Polar bear for the 150th Anniversary Art show
Another exiting felting post by Jan Scott
This is the Guilds display for the 2017 Ottawa Valley Farm Show in March of 2017. Lynda is hiding behind her loom, Ann is about to spend the day making felted beads with the kids, and Merilyn is spinning beside the empty chair where I was working. We do put on an interesting demo!
The Farm show is a huge display of farm equipment, seeds, antique display, farm oriented venders, trappers, government department’s booths, the wool growers co-op, and various breed and rare breed associations. It is really a huge event drawing people not only form the Ottawa Valley but the rest of eastern Ontario. It’s always early March so weather can be an issue. We had a blizzard the second day of the show.
I was getting lots of interest in the pieces I had already completed for the 150th Art Show.
It was time to start the next project. So before the demo it was time to decide what to do next. After much debate between Moose bison and polar Bear I decided to continue with the arctic theme.
By now you are likely starting to guess my working process. So yes it was back to the internet to find reference photos and work out a composition likely from a composite of pictures. Working with a square is a lot more challenging. The eye naturally is drawn to shapes that feel comfortable, shapes that follow the golden mean or Fibonacci to figure out stripe progressions (Rectangles). Shape that have proportions you find in nature. Squares are definitely more of a challenge. But I’m use to a good challenge, you should see my un-spell-checked spelling!
So the quest was on find an image I could made square. but not be too static. So either intensity or dynamic composition was what I was looking for. So find images that cought my eye, then crop to square.
As I perused the inspirational options I thought about the talk Robert Bateman had given at Halliburton last summer. He spent some time discussing some of his earlier work mentioning his frustration painting a polar bear in a snow storm then the next painting was a black timber wolf at night in a dark forest. He had mentioned that white wasn’t just white. So to look carefully and not assume you know your subject just because it’s “white”.
Some images were very interesting but just didn’t want to be square.
Then I spotted this one. The intensity of the look was amazing. The shapes were simple but if I could get the eyes it would work really well. The image dew you in, there was such contemplation and stillness. It was like looking a momentary paws in the action. I liked it! Ok I had my inspiration.
Day one demo
I brought my large foam pad, core wool (Rideau Arcott), and various shades of white grey browns yellow red and blue. (I as optimistic but didn’t think I would get the understructure done in one day.) I got dropped off around 7ish, parking can be very crowded so it was better to get there unusually early and I could set up and get started. Glenn had over time so it was a late pick up as well so I was there for over 12 hours. I got a lot done.
I had premade my background felt layer at home using my wicked 10 needles in a row tool. It was again impressive how well it worked on flat felting.
For the understructure I mostly worked upside down to help get the general proportions correct. I could have made a graph over the photo to make a more exact copy but I wanted the photo to be more an inspiration than an exact likeness.
I was explaining the backing layer that the understructure would be attached to.
I got a lot of “what are you making” in the morning, then by afternoon it was “is that a dog?”
Most said they would come back later to see what I had accomplished on their way out.
A couple more quick shots of the demo in progress before we go on to day 2.
This is a very cool loom from around the 1970’s. It was fascinating to see it working.
Ann had a lot of help making felted beads using pencils. She is really amazing!!
Merylin was busy spinning some of her Sheep’s wool she had dyed herself. She has a beautiful painted wheel.
Day 2 demoing
I had booked off 2 of the 3 days of the demo. So again I got there unreasonably early, got help to get the display set up again.
Today we had Gord with one of his great wheels (he has several)
I had the understructure to my liking and started working from the top down
Amada was spinning on her Hitchhiker wheel. She dose amazing natural dyeing some of which was on display.
As you can see in the foreground of the picture I had progressed to adding colour to my under structure. By the time I hit the eyebrows I was starting to get comments of “is that a polar Bear?”
I chose blue face Lester since my memories of my Grandmothers Polar Bear rug is still vivid in my memory. Since I think the last time I slept on it was over 40 years ago it really did make an impression. It had a yellow tint to the white fur, the fur was stiff but not really course. It was smooth if you patted it in the direction the fur grew. It was a wonderful polar bear I don’t know what happened to it. I hope it is still being loved by small children sleeping on it.
This is the progress at about ¾ of the way through day 2. I was definitely felting faster on this one.
Day 3 of the Farm show demo.
I had a short day of work so rushed back for the final day of the demo. We had a pretty full demo team and the weather was a bit better than the previous days’ blizzard.
Laurie and Julie are Weaving, Merylin was spinning and I was still felting.
I got a lot more of the face done. But it was slow going due to hand blending each section I was working on. I was still finding the hand blending less uniform, which was what I wanted, than using the carders. Also with the different lengths of fibre I was blending with the blue face Lester it was a lot easier to work with it just by hand. I wound up with alpaca as well as wool to get the colours I had wanted.
I had a couple more evenings of touching up the colour and the Polar Bear was complete.
The pieces made another appearance at the demo for Dickenson day in Manotick Ontario.
This is my show and tell the meeting before the show.
Here are all the pieces I did for the 150th anniversary show.
While I was making Polar Bear I thought about my western Grandmother and about my brother who has done most of his work in the North so I am giving this piece to my brother Dave. This is his Bio so you will see why I was thinking of him.
(Dr. David J. Scott is the Executive Director of the Canadian Polar Commission in Ottawa. Prior to his current post Dr. Scott had a long career with the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), finishing as Director, Northern Canada Division.
At the GSC he also served as acting Director General, Planning and Operations Branch, and led the GSC’s Gas Hydrates and Northern Resources Development programs. From 1999-2003, he was based in Iqaluit, Nunavut, as the founding Chief Geologist of the Canada-Nunavut Geoscience Office.
Dr. Scott holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geology (McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada) and a PhD in Geological Sciences (Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada) where his thesis research investigated the tectonic origin of two-billion year old oceanic crust in Arctic Quebec. He was a Research Associate in uranium-lead geochronology at the GEOTOP laboratories of the University of Quebec at Montreal. He has published and presented over 80 technical papers.
I am very proud of his many accomplishments. I wonder if he will put it in his northern office his southern office or keep it at home. Where ever he puts it I hope he enjoys it.
I have a PS to this Post Jan won the peoples choice award for her Polar Bear at our Canada 150 Show.
17 thoughts on “Polar bear for the 150th Anniversary Art show”
Wow Ann, I think your polar bear is fabulous, the features are just spot on, great job. The Art show looks great, lovely to spend the day like minded people, never a hardship!
Thank you but I can’t take credit. That is Jan, she is very detail oriented . I am more slap dab.
Yes, very sorry, I put the wrong name in! Sorry Jan, I love him!
Thanks! Ann has been vary insperational in my felting jurrney and i am looking forword to seeing a poler bare done by Ann. im shure it will happen vary soon!!! and im shure it will be vary cool but likey a bit flatter than the ones ive done. i hope the guild will do another art show or challange this year.
Jan, what a wonderful Polar Bear and congratulations on your win. Well deserved!
Thankyou! i thot i had a good chance urly on then more and more excelnt pices came in and my hope dwindled. so much so i was standing over at the side of the room ready to take a picture of whoever had won when thay were about to anounce the winer at the guild meeting. It was a big shock! (i herd that Froggy came in second! he is the rude one that keeps showing his but in photos)
What an interesting post, thank you Jan. The polar bear is fabulous – not surprised about your win!
Thankyou! it was definatly a suprized but it had been vary popular as the show was beening hung i still thot there were a lot of excelent options for vewers choice. My Brother had been looking at the cataloge of the show (i gave them the cattaloge as well as the Poler bare at christmass) he was vary impressed with it just as a photo. he seemed vary suprized when he unrapped it!
Beautiful bear! Would love to try something like this! Congratulations!
Lise definatly try it! fine a pictuer that realy make an impact on you, get other vewes so you can check proportions, work out all the kinks in the under structure. turning and working with the image upside down sometime makes it easyer to get your proportions correct too. then think of it sort of like a gissi painting. (look at your image in black gray and white.) then mix your wool in layer to get the shade you want or lay in the fur (if your working with someting furry) against the direction the fur drapes , so do the under layer first and work up. it realy makes more sence when you are doing it! I hope some day to be up to teaching felting. but if you ask Ann about the hats ive made with her, you will find out i tend to do odd things at least with hats, so it may be a while before i feel up to teaching. I will look forword to seeing your not flat pictures here soon too.
What an extraordinary bear! Congratulations – your win was well deserved!
Thank You!! it brot back lots of memorys about my Grandmothers Poler Bare rug and about visiting my Grandmother when i was vary young.
Great post, thanks Jan! I’m glad your brother liked his present, it really is a great Polar Bear (if your brother ever feels like doing a guest post, I’m sure we could fit him in, his work sounds fascinating!) I always love how interested people are in the photos of the fairs you and Ann do.
im vary prowd of my Brother, he dose realy interesting things. (and i enjoyed his storys about doing geology in the north. – the muskox incient, the bear that folloed in back to camp….) i wanted to be a paliontolgyist and study dinosors but was shure you should be able to spell your profeshion. so by grade 6 i couldnt spell Paliontologist or Dinosore so i thot i should give up on that idea. so i wound up being a massage therapist whitch i sometimes get spelt rite. i think if i had not given up i would be showing you felted dinosorses likely some with fethers (like arkioptrics)!
Doing Demos is a lot of fun and important. it promotes interest in your art form and can inspier people to try it themselves. its just hard to get pictures when it gets realy bissy!! the next demo should be the Farm show.we have lots of people drop by who own sheep and ask grate questions! Im shure Ann will have a grate blog post about demoing too
I find it encouraging the way kids are included. Look at Ann’s face, too often here kids are ‘told off’ for touching and just discouraged generally as pests.
The bear is fabuous Jan! Along with your other sculptures. I enjoyed your rememberance of the polar bear rug. I’m sure your brother will love the bear. Thanks for sharing.
Thankyou i have been having fun! Yes Dave Loved the Bear! he was realy suprized to open his present and find out it was the poler bear he had been just admiering in the book! he looked vary suprized! thanks for reading all my odd postings!