My wife Pam was the final helper, filling minor imperfections with Winterstone icing. Our focus was on the princess' legs and bag. We were tempted to use a broad spatula to smooth the bag and remove all indents from sculptor's fingers but that would make the bag too perfect for a princess wearing it as clothing so we left most of the finger indents intact.
The next day I worked alone, sanding the entire sculpture except for the hair, making final adjustments along the way. I discovered some clumps of Winterstone on the princess' face near the hairline. Since they were too stubborn to be sanded away, I used a file to shave them off then sanded the area to remove scrape lines made by the file.
Using the same file, I deepened the contours between the fingers and toes and shaped the nails. It felt like I was giving the princess a manicure and pedicure.
The face is the most critical part of the sculpture. Human nature will cause people to study the face to see the characteristics and emotions. Subconsciously they will notice unnatural imbalances and instantly know whether the face is nice or odd. To avoid making a critical mistake, I used a pencil to draw the eyes and mouth on the sculpture. The circle for the left eye looked good but the right one was a bit too large and needed erased and redrawn twice. The left side of the mouth curved down in a beautiful smile but the right side was ragged. Erase and redraw. Repeat until it looked balanced. I stepped back to get a better look and decided that the centre of the mouth was too close to the nose. Erasing and redrawing it lower gave the princess a more emphatic smile. I drew small dimple arches at both ends of the mouth. They were too horizontal, making the princess' smile look wry. After being redrawn they were too vertical and unnatural looking. A few attempts later they were perfect.
For the next few days I sprayed the sculpture with water to help the Winterstone cure harder. Meanwhile, I studied the smile and compared it to two pictures that Michael Martchenko had drawn in the storybook. The picture of the princess waving goodbye to the dragon had very simple facial lines. The first picture in the book showed a beautiful face with more complex details. The face drawn on the sculpture was an ideal midpoint. With the utmost care, I attached a diamond bit to the end of my Dremmel rotary tool and slowly carved the face using light lines first then gradually deepening them with repeated gentle passes. The princess looks perfect but I'm not posting a picture of her here on the web site. I'm keeping it a secret until the unveiling at the library.
Now that the base was bigger, I needed more slate to cover it so off I went to Ceramic Decor to buy twenty more tiles. While there I asked if they would be interested in sponsoring the project. I'm willing to cover all costs for the sculpture but with the slate supplies around two hundred dollars, any help would be appreciated. They handed me a business card for Angle Inglis, their Retail Operations Manger who wasn't there at the time and and suggested that I follow up with her. Later I sent an email to Angel explaining the Paper Bag Princess sculpture and within minutes after pressing the send button my phone rang. It was Angel saying that Ceramic Decor would be happy to contribute the tiles plus supplies. She too was a Robert Munsch fan plus Ceramic Decor had done work for him in the past and they were very willing to participate in this tribute.
When I stopped by to drop off ten tiles needing cut and to pick up free glue and grout, Angle refunded my previous costs for slate tiles. Thanks! I left the scale model of the sculpture at Ceramic Decor for a few weeks for them to display and receive credit for their contribution. It has been wonderful to have Ceramic Decor step up and help with this tribute.
One day while working on the sculpture I realized that the base was too small. It needed to be slightly higher to give the princess a greater visual impact and it needed to be wider to protect her from people passing by and inadvertently bumping her. I decided to add a lower base piece, the same height as the top base piece but one foot wider on all sides. This would create a sitting ledge for children wanting the be near the princess.
Digging through the stack of wood inventory in my basement I found an old sheet of plywood that the developer had used for a sign when the neighbourhood was being developed. He had discarded it many years ago once the development was complete and I had dragged it into my basement for possible future use. It leaned against the wall doing nothing but collect dust for more than a decade, waiting to be called into duty. It was large enough to use for the sculpture's base and as a bonus, it had a map of the neighbourhood painted on one side. How symbolic! I took a permanent marker and drew a tiny sketch of the sculpture on the lot showing where our house was built, then made a note saying, "This is where the Paper Bag Princess Sculpture was created.
I turned the board so that the map faced down, cut it to size then glued and screwed two by four boards around the edges. Someday, maybe far in the future, someone will be moving the sculpture, tip the base onto its side and discover the map and note written on the bottom. I love the hidden message.
In this busy season of Christmas, I took a few weeks off sculpting to free up time for shopping and a multitude of festive activities. Now I'm back at it.
The legs and feet were completed except for minor touch ups and so were the arms and hands.
During these final stages I often had flash-back memories of events that happened along the way. While applying a thin layer of Winterstone icing to the crown I recalled Evan Lew telling me about a big problem with the crown's prongs. The memory made me smile.
While applying a thin-as-skin layer of icing to the princess' face to cover small blemishes I recalled Peyton Clarke's natural abilities smoothing the clay with her finger tips. She, along with many other helpers demonstrated amazing artistic abilities. I smiled again.
As I looked at the shortening list of things to do, I see the end in sight. I contacted Kitty Pope at the Library to pick an unveiling date. We tentatively picked February 19th at 5:00, just before a board meeting. The media will be invited along with some special guests. I hope that all of the volunteers who helped build the Paper Bag Princess sculpture can join us for the unveiling. We will send each of them an invitation once the details are settled.
Thousands of potential sculptures lie within each and every uncut stone. Sometimes the destiny is obvious when I see a stone and sometimes releasing the sculpture within is a long journey following countless hints and inspirations.