The IceBlock [16]: A Gift

Hi everyone :) I got home later than usual today, and was really stumped about what review to write, so I thought I'd do an IceBlock post instead. To be honest, since this post is going to be all about what's photographed up there, I don't really think labeling it as an IceBlock post is very appropriate, but...well, if I happen to make more of these things, then I might do a 'crafts' section or something, but for now it seems excessive to give it its own tab on my blog.

Anyway, my boyfriend's birthday is coming up, and I really wanted to do something special for him. I think it's funny that I always gravitate towards more artsy activities, whether I'm good at them or not. When my brother and I were younger, he was the one into art, and I was the science nerd. He's still ridiculously talented when it comes to art, but it seems that my multitude of interests have shifted to the arts over the past few years - interests I'm both good and bad at. I find writing to be my strength, with music performance coming second, but when it comes to drawing, painting, sculpting...pretty much creating something out of nothing, I fail.

So I choose to do those very things when I want to do something special for someone.

I think it's because it feels like doing these activities requires a lot of effort and dedication. Or maybe it's because once I've finished my project, I feel proud of myself for accomplishing something that's challenging. And then there's the fact that these difficult tasks - the process of doing them, anyway - relaxes me. It allows me to concentrate fully on a single, tiny goal that I know is tangible as long as I am persistent. Reaching that goal proves something.

When I decided to make my boyfriend a small panda figurine out of clay, I took on quite a few challenges: creating a three-dimensional figure from a two-dimensional picture, painting by hand, and minor sculpting. I've always had better luck making a 'copy' drawing of a picture (that is, referencing a picture and drawing it), so I suppose that's why this project was even possible, since I referenced a picture and didn't create it from scratch. But I really lack talent when it comes to painting (my nerves make my hand shake) and usually even when I have a reference to go off of, my creation still manages to look odd.

Well, I spent two hours sitting in front of my computer with white and black clay (the amateur kind from Michael's), some clay tools from my high school single-semester ceramics class, and the following picture open on my computer's screen:

A panda from one of my boyfriend's t-shirts.

I don't know why I call my boyfriend "Panda" at times, but I do, and if I'm remembering correctly, he bought a shirt with the above picture on it because of me. It only felt appropriate to make him a figurine out of clay based off of the adorable panda design, so I did.

It took 2 hours of conditioning the clay, molding it into the nine required pieces (two arms, two legs, two ears, the body, the head, and the tail), and then putting the pieces together. It then took about 75 minutes of supervised baking in my family's home oven before Day 1 was concluded.

On Day Two - Labor Day - I cleaned up any color imperfections with white and black acrylic paints. After that, I painted the upper portion of the upper body - between the arms - black. I then created a paper stencil based off of the above picture so that the eyes would be spaced properly when I painted them onto the face. They didn't paint on cleanly, so I had to fix them up by hand (which was terrifying). Likewise, I painted the nose and mouth by hand and, I'll just say it now, that's where I messed up the most. I'm highly critical of myself when it comes to anything and everything, so when the mouth didn't turn out like the upside-down 'v' in the above picture, it was hard not to notice.

But if makeup has taught me anything, it's that trying to fix mistakes usually just makes things even worse. When it comes to drawing, anyway. (Eyeliner, anyone?)

After 24+ hours of letting the paint cure, I was finally able to glaze my panda figurine (last night after work). I gave it three coats and now - 10:42 P.M. - it's safe to say that the glaze has had ample time to dry, and the panda is ready for transit. Take a look:

Front view.

Angled view.

Side view.

Me holding it for size reference.

As you can see, the eyes are bigger than those on the panda from my boyfriend's t-shirt, the upside-down 'v' of a mouth is more of an arched frown, the head-to-body proportions are a bit off, it leans a bit to the left, and its head leans further back than intended (it tilted back as it baked because of its weight and how I attached it). But I'm still thrilled with how my little panda came out, because I know that the tasks it took to complete this project were ones that were out of my comfort zone.

I can't wait until my boyfriend sees this gift in person. I put a lot of work into it, to do the best I possibly could, and - like I mentioned earlier - I might try doing something like this again sometime, since I love cute figurines. It would allow me to improve, and to put forth an even greater 'best' the next time around.

I don't know why I decided, of all things, to share this with you all. Maybe to inspire you to step out of your comfort zone once in a while. Or to tell you that even though we may not be great at the things we wish to do, it doesn't mean we shouldn't do them. Our efforts might not yield the best results initially, and it'll be frustrating as hell, but try to shrug it off and realize what you're capable of, knowing that, with dedication, it might not be so hard anymore.

'Til next time. ('<>')>


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