Santa's Workshop

   by Connie Andrews for Re-Invent a Work of Art (2013)

Inspiration Piece: Discovering Santa

Inspiration Artist: Norman Rockwell

I had so many ideas for this Re-invent a Work of Art theme, it was hard to limit myself to just one. I decided on Norman Rockwell's painting titled "Discovering Santa" after seeing that the wood block in the Mystery Kit was almost the perfect size for the dresser in the original painting, and the thin pieces of hardwood were almost perfectly sized to create the door in the painting. So that was enough to make my decision. Everything else was based from that block of wood. I decided to put a little twist on the original painting and have Santa actually creating the surprised little boy who just "discovered" Santa.
I first sketched the little boy and the drawers onto the wood block. Then I started to carve the figurine from the chavant clay. I used two of the plastic pellets for the eyes after I bored out the sockets in the tiny clay head. Every other part of the boy is clay.
Next I "flocked" the board with a thin layer of the glue and shredded floral foam which I kind of smashed and sprinkled in a fairly even layer to represent the carpet from the Rockwell painting, which coincidently was almost the same color as the floral foam.
To create the dresser, I cut a chunk out where the bottom drawer was to be using a scroll saw. Then I constructed a drawer and the other drawer fronts out of the thin hardwoods. The drawer fronts were glued to the wood block. I created legs from the chavant clay and glued them on. The dresser has these same plastic pellets painted antique gold for drawer handles. The little jewelry box on top was from a piece cut off of the smaller block. It also has a thin hardwood front on it as well as 2 painted plastic pellets for the handles. I made the "mirror" on top of it all from a piece of thin hardwood sprayed with shiny silver paint and then glued on thin strips of hardwood that I cut with a razor blade and mitered the corners with a miniature miter box cutter. Then I painted all the wood on the dresser, jewelry box and mirror to make it look like a wood grained pattern. I glued the bottom open drawer to the dresser so that it was in the open position. Then cut and placed a cloth cut from the artist's canvas to represent Santa's clothes coming out of the drawer.
The little brush on top of the dresser is made from little cut sections of rope that I pressed into a rolled, and then flattened, piece of chavant clay. the little canister on top of the jewelry box is modeled from Sculpey clay that was then baked. Both the top of the brush and the canister were then painted silver.
For Santa's hand, I made a wire framework with the enclosed wire. I then stuck the framework into a common rubber glove and packed about half of the shredded newsprint inside the glove to bulk it up. I then bent the glove to make it appear to be holding a paintbrush. I used the remaining newsprint as a paper mache, using water and glue all mixed together in a bowl, to cover the visible part of Santa's "hand." I let it dry and then had to cut the glove inside the palm and pull it from the dried paper mache. I wanted it to look like Santa's gloved hand, so I rolled out the rest of my white Sculpey clay very thinly and applied it as loosely as possibly in a thin layer on top of the paper mache hand.
I made the brush by taking a dowel and adding chavant clay to form the shape of the wood handle. I sanded the end to make a tapered end and added a bit more clay to lengthen it. I cut the bristles from unbraided rope and made the ferrule by rolling out a piece of chavant clay, wrapping it around the brush and the bristles and then tapering it down to fit. It was painted silver, the brush handle was painted to look like wood. I dipped the brush into juicy red paint on the end and painted part of the Santa costume with it. Then I placed the brush into Santa's hand.
I fashioned Santa's beard out of shredded pieces of the rope. I completely unbraided short sections of rope and glued all the strands to one long piece that ran the other way, just like the beard looks in the painting. I made the santa hat from the piece of loose canvas and created the appearance of furry trim around it with a thicker version of my flocking method. I made the ball on the end with chavant clay, then flocked it with floral foam, and painted it and the trim white, while the body of the cap I painted red.
The door was made from the long thin hardboards. I glued two big pieces together and then cut the decorative trim pieces using an exacto knife. I then sized them all to fit and glued those on. I painted the door to match the door in the painting. The hinges, doorknob, plate under the knob and the strikeplate are all made from hand molded and then baked Sculpey clay, painted gold, then glued onto the door.
The wall behind the dresser is the painted canvas board. It is supported by a corner section of the box that has been cut away and is both under the floor and behind the wall.
As a finishing touch, I sprinkled the little plastic pellets into the scene to represent the moth balls from the drawer.