22 April 2011
After introducing Scott of the Antarctic Cat, I thought now would be a good time to shine the spotlight on Coco Chanel Cat. Requested by the same lovely person who commissioned Scott, I enjoyed the same process of researching a historical figure with a very striking and recognisable style.
|Coco Chanel from this blog|
I found a wonderful catalogue of pictures charting Coco Chanel's life on a blog (you can visit the post by clicking on the link above). I used this picture as inspiration for the sculpture.
First of all, I created the underlying cat shape using Fimo Puppen, a flesh-coloured clay generally used for making dolls. It bakes to a lovely translucent finish, although it can be a little hard to condition compared to other clays. I created separate legs (I know! cats with legs!) by using a wire armature for extra strength, and at this stage, I hadn't yet attached the arms and tail at this stage.
For the skirt, I rolled out a thin sheet of black clay and cut it to size. I left a small slit at the black, which you can just about see in this photo. For the top, I created a simple striped cane using black and dark gray, which I then cut into thin slices and positioned at 45 degree angle to each other.
Coco Chanel definitely had attitude, and I wanted to convey this in the piece. So I positioned the legs so that one foot was slightly further out than the other, and curved the piece so that she was standing quite belligerently. Of course, having hands on hips helped with the attitude too!
As for her accessories, I made the strands of pearls from tiny individual dots of pearl clay fixed in place. For her belt, I used a strip of black clay and embedded a length of thin chain, which always formed the handle of her handbag. For the belt buckle and the decoration on her beret, I coiled thin wire into a spiral and hammered it flat. For her hat, I embedded a glass seed bead in the centre. I just love getting the tiny details right in pieces like this! It's a little hard to see in these photos, but I created a diamond pattern on her handbag by pressing netting into the side before curing it.
The tail was one of the last things to be fixed one, and I had used a length of wire wrapped in clay (just the way I create the mouse tails) and bent slightly to create a tripod effect. It makes the piece very stable and makes them more realistic (as far as a cat made up to look like Coco Chanel can be said to be realistic!)
Many thanks again to Liz for this lovely commission - and we're going to be working on a very exciting commission for Christmas soon involving a mouse-filled ballet scene! I can say no more, but I'm looking forward to it very much!