The Fairy Fellow’s Masterstroke

The Fairy Fellow’s Masterstroke

It took 6 months and learned much along the way, the very least of which is: never do anything like this again! Stick to one figure at a time…
I obviously couldn’t do the whole painting out of polymer clay, so I settled for the centre section containing all the action. Even then, I removed half of the characters, and shuffled others around for convenience. Turning a two dimensional scene into a 3D sculpture is quite a challenge. The painting’s light source, shadows and depth are all frozen in time, and don’t necessarily have to follow the laws of physics. Not only did I have to decide what I was looking at in terms of real space, but I was instantly faced with another dilemma: what should you see from behind? The back of the base had a huge amount of real estate to fill… and the Fairly Feller himself has his back to us – what does HE look like?

Using my imagination, I came up with the King’s obviously portable throne (kept level with sticks), and a detailed little fairy door in the side of the cliff. I put a name across the arch in honour of a friend of mine; someone who could have been a rather independent fairy in another life. There are other in-jokes, as well. The satyr squatting on an acorn has age-spots on his bald head, one of which is the exact shape of a unicorn tattoo I have recently noticed. There is an out-of-place Blue Jay for a baseball loving friend, a trumpet (or horn) for a musical bartender etc…

As for scale, I have kept the acorns, grass stocks and flowers life-size, meaning the largest of the figures here would be 6 – 7 inches tall if they actually existed. I think this adds to the illusion that we are looking in on the tiny fairies magic world. The base was made from a one pound block of Sculpey, and is hollow. Keeping this support for eight figures from collapsing during subsequent re-bakings required a careful bit of engineering. Inside is a latticework of wooden supports, several of which run through the front lip, holding it firmly to the base. The figures in the top row all have sturdy wire through their feet, and down to the bottom of the base, so that their weight is supported.
I also used my usual assortment of wire, sticks, glue and a very cool little chain for the pick-pocket’s watch. For the broken acorn shells, I simply made a large curved section, painted the inside slightly lighter, and then broke it up into little pieces.