Exploring the Essence of Being Creative
If I were a stand up comedian, I would start my skit about the complicated relationship with my dog with the following lead in line: “One day I stopped at a strip mall to pick up a used video game at GameStop, but instead I left with a puppy from the pet store next door …”
And that’s how it really happen. Whether you believe in fate or coincidence, for some reason I was compelled to walk into that local pet store in Virginia where I instantly fell in love with this little guy:
After calling my family and asking their opinion if I should buy a dog (they all thought it was a bad idea), I decided to sleep on it for a night. I was so anxious ridden the next day, that I called the pet store before lunch and asked if there was any way to reserve the Shiba Inu puppy till I got off work. The girl who answered the phone had been at the store the night before and remembered me playing with the puppy. She said technically there was no way to reserve the puppy, but that I should hurry to the shop as quick as possible after work. I found out later that she had fibbed to a lady with some young kids and said that the Shiba Inu was already purchased, even though I had not formally committed to buying the dog. She had confided later that: “I knew that he would be happier with you.”
I wasn’t quite sure what to name him at first. I did have a momentary lapse in judgement when I wanted to name him “Jack Sparrow”. Luckily, I named him Meeko instead, after the mischievous raccoon from Pocahontas (slight resemblance, non?):
Anyways, I did not realize what I got myself into as a Shiba Inu owner. They are definitely no Golden Retriever (like my first dog Paris)! Recently, a fellow owner from the local Shiba Inu Meetup Group described the breed personality perfectly: “My dog is complex…some dogs look at you and say I’m hungry, rub my belly…but my dog is like: ‘I am dissatisfied with the outcome of the recent election and I still remember from last week that you put my squeaky toy away in the drawer, don’t think I’ll forget that anytime soon”.
Meeko may not have complex thoughts about politics, but he does sometimes sport the: “I am very unhappy about this situation Mom & Dad” look…..like on St. Patty’s Day:
And even though he likes to pretend he is the alpha dog on our street, he does have neuroses that we are still working on. For example, we just learned last July that he really hates the sound of fireworks (and thunder for that matter). The neighborhood families were lighting off leftover fireworks on July 5th, which caused Meeko to go in hiding. When we came home from tennis, we thought he had escaped from the house, but in fact he just found a pretty solid hiding spot instead. One that he could not get out of on his own:
Anyways, that’s a very brief introduction to my dog that inspired the first handmade Christmas ornament of 2012.
I used the following Sculpey III colors for the ornanament: Gold, Tan, Chocolate, White and a little bit of Red and Leaf Green clay for some festive holly detail. My apologies for the lack of photos, I did not realize I would be writing a blog at the time of this ornament.
At first I wanted to make a full Shiba Inu figurine with a little Santa Cap. I found that the Sculpey III clay was a little too malleable to form the entire body. So I simplified the ornament just to the head, since the Shiba Inu ears and coloring are very distinct. Below is the general form blocked out in gold and white clay. (The ornament did spend a lot of time looking like a pig instead of a dog.)
Next I blended in some thin pieces of tan clay around the snout and cheeks to create some depth. I then added some white and tan clay around the ears to imitate Meeko’s ears. I also used the thin hole piercing tool (I’m pretty sure there is a more official name) to texture the white fur in the front.
Then I use the dark brown/chocolate colored clay to continue adding depth around the snout, forehead, and ears. Then I gave the little guy a set of eyes, nose, and mouth.
At this point, my fiance (boyfriend at the time) took a break from watching the football game and provided some positive reinforcement that it didn’t look a pig anymore. (Haha.) He also suggested I texture all the fur and not just the white section.
So I took his advice and added more texture in the back and around the cheeks. I also gave the ornament a red tongue to match the festive holly. I had decided to ditch the hat because my polymer clay rendition looked too bulky and awkward.
I embedded a small black jump ring at the top of the ornament than wrapped in tin foil and baked it for 30-40 mins in my kitchen oven. (Please note, the common guidance is to cure polymer clay creations in a separate clay dedicated toaster oven/conventional oven as a safety precaution. As a chemical engineer, I take that type of warning seriously and soon purchased a toaster oven for subsequent polymer clay curing.)
After letting the ornament cool down, I took some white ribbon I had lying around and hung the little Shiba Inu head from our jade plant, as a temporary landing spot until we got our Christmas tree. My friend Liz jokes its the Ghost of Meeko Past.
Considering that I have not attempted sculpting since the 6th grade, I was pretty happy with the end result. However, it did completely drain all of my resolve to sculpt with clay. With my full cache of polymer clay packages from my JoAnn, I knew I had to find another project or risk fighting the return line at JoAnns.
So I turned to Etsy.com for inspiration. I soon discovered that many people made beads out of polymer clay. Not only that, but people sold polymer clay beads and polymer clay jewelry pieces. I decided to go out on a limb and try to make some beads. All I knew was that I wanted to focus on experimenting with color, since there are a lot of polymer clay artists that focus on floral beads. I also decided that I probably had enough material to make more beads than I know what to do wtih, so maybe I should try my hand at selling some on Etsy. And so I decided to try to transform from an Etsy observer, to an Etsy Seller. Stay in tune for my article: Hatching a Plan for my Etsy shop.