It’s A Boy!!!!l It’s True….

Life has a way of not turning out as you had planned. Sometime it turns out even better. I think the key in life is that you have to” Let go”. So let me get  you going with my story.

I joined SPAC this year. SPAC is a group of artists  out on the Peninsula that have regular meetings and workshops to learn and explore new mediums and to showcase their work. Why would a photographer join a group where their show doesn’t accept photography as an art form you may ask? I was unaware of that at first and second I joined because I wanted to grown learn and explore as an artist. They had workshops the month of February and I signed up for a few. You have to sign up early. Wow they fill up like hotcakes! Note to self for next year.

So I take this sculpture course by  Duncan Currie  a full day adventure with clay as my medium of choice. I am prepared to get mucky and all is good, or so I thought. My previous sculpture experience was an ashtray I made in elementary school. Yup I said it an ashtray. It was still vogue to smoke back then and I made it for my dad when he use to smoke. I say use to smoke because shortly after I made the ashtray I found out about the dangers of smoking. It was then that I smashed all the ashtrays in the house, only to figure out that didn’t work. I would grab his pack of smokes and crush & break all of his cigarettes in the pack except  two. I did this consistently over time every pack I could get my hands on and it just got too expensive for him to smoke, and he quit!


Back to the story, I do manage to get sidetracked, but in a good way! Only other sculpting experience was snakes in Playdoh. ( still love the smell of that stuff). So I was full of enthusiasm and was good to go.

WHAM introduce the lump of clay! GULP…What the heck now was I suppose to do with ALL that! It’s all for me I ask?” Yup” Duncan Currie says. Yikes….This clay was given out after a wonderful lecture about how organic clay is, and how it is so connected to the earth and what makes good qualities of various clays. The talk was so truly inspiring that  I wanted another helping of granola and wanted to go wiggle my toes in the earth…. LOL it was that good ,and I longed to pull my Birkenstocks out of the cupboard! Here on the west coast it is the only place in the world where I know wool socks with sandals are ok together…they are our winter boots!!!! Seriously…I am not lying.


Some of the ladies in the class brought reference materials to use for their creations. Some had pages of reference. Whoa, I didn’t bring anything like that. Adapt Adopt and Improve. Not a problem I have my iPhone.  I will use my phone and find inspiration and be an eco warrior and save some poor tree in the process! I find my photo for reference in record time…BONUS..

Time to get you hands dirty. I tell my kids if you come home clean you didn’t have FUN! A motto I believe in wholeheartedly. Time to work the clay. Like sooo many things in life you have to warm it up before you can achieve results. The clay is no different! enough said…apply that to other parts of your life….and be happy!


Clay all warmed up I go to look at my reference photo. On my iPhone that is turned off and into sleep mode..wipe mucky finger and punch in the password after touching the home button. UGH…. being an eco warrior is not going to work if I want a useable phone at the end of the day as I see red stains already on the case where I touched it. So much for that. Wipe hands. Thinking outside the box. I knock on the administrative door of CACSP . Community Arts Council of the Saanich Peninsula. Frankie answers. I ask her a favor, I ask for her email address, I send my reference to photo to her and she prints it off for me. Good thinking, one phone saved, one tree branch ….errr rest in peace… Technology is wonderful when it works along side me. Many thanks to Frankie for doing that! I am grateful.


I get back to sculpting… as you can see in this photo of the sculpt. You are a product of what you see and ingest. I have heard that and believe it now. My sculpt was looking like Dolly Parton!! Where did this come from? I know exactly. I binged watched too many Nip and Tuck Episodes on NetFlix. They did sooo many breast augmentations it obviously had an affect on me. Seriously my gal was looking way to Dolly for my liking and I start a reduction plan. So I thought Duncan Currie comes by to see how things are progressing.  He politely suggests I get a ruler. ” A ruler” ?  I think to my myself….What the heck do I need a ruler for I am not measuring anything? I am sculpting what would I need a ruler for? Sheesh… He stops the hinting, and finally says it. My proportions for this poor Dolly is not correct. Imagine it was not just the double D cups that I gave her! He then goes down on the floor and assumes the pose for me to see the way I learn ( without rulers) that I am sadly so out of wack it is almost painful to look at.  My realization that Dolly was part elephant man and I didn’t even know it!



My immediately thoughts are turn this poor chick into an ashtray. I was comfortable with that and besides I had previous experience with ashtrays why not? Without turning ” Dolly/ElephantMan” into an ashtray, I decide it is best if I take a break. Walk away from the clay. Meanwhile the others are sculpting away. The gal behind me was  almost completing this kick ass gecko. hmmmm maybe my gal to transform into a gecko? Nope. The gal infront of me is doing a human torso! I think she used rulers….Everything was right and looked amazing. I can safely say she has done more in clay than just an ashtray!


I want to quit. ….cough cough….is that a cold coming on? I better pack up and go home before I infect the group…LOL Have time to make Dolly into a quick ashtray and get out. I laugh at myself and just when I want to get the hell out of dodge. I think of the Brits. ” Keep Calm & Carry On”. ( used as part of the Second World War Campaign in 1939 was on pamphlets and posters)

Time to take drastic measures and do something other than an ashtray…that was so 1970’s  anyway…I was not in a retro mood. I decide to start making the proportions right. That is when it happened!!! Right before my eyes!!! IT’S A BOY!!! the clay morphed itself into a Boy!!! Dolly got all masculine and I said good bye to the elephant man! ( kinda within reason) Dolly is a Don, George, or some other man.

I had no idea my lump of clay was “boy” clay and not ” girl” clay. So Ken was born. I say Ken because he was like a Ken doll growing up …Umm he was a man but not really. The proportions were getting there and then I was there in his groin region thinking this isn’t right. Now I never thought in a million years that I woke up that morning and thought I would be sculpting a small penis for my ” boy” clay. But there I was making “Ken” into a real man….I almost felt like Geppetto who wanted a real boy. I didn’t want the old Dolly to be a Ken. I do know this for certain. I didn’t want to search the internet for examples! LOL

Well there I was, and it was a first for me, ( maybe my last ya never know) I was there intensely sculpting a small penis. The room was cold that was what I was going with it, or the Seinfeld episode with George and the shrinkage problem I don’t know. I say intently not intense….ok ….fine both.. I know this to be true because a fellow classmate came in to take a close look at what I was doing, and so feverishly working on. ” oh my ” she exclaims and quickly moves on to complement the gecko lady on her sculpture. I now notice the cold room is suddenly hot and I am blushing and laughing on the inside. Thank goodness I was almost done.DetailBits

Critique time from the instructor…. Your gal is now a guy. I see. proportions are good, what is he doing? My man was lying on a board looking like an autopsy was about to be done. ( but his junk looked good! My opinion not that of the instructors…he didn’t mention it) So to answer the question….What is he doing? “Suntanning”, I say.  I could tell a suntanning guy naked in the art world might not go over as well as I planned. So I bent one knee up for effect….Wow that transformed him into GI Joe.  Yup GI Joe naked and suntanning with a purpose. Or NOT.


I got it I’ll put him in the masculine pose that the girl aka ” Dolly” was in. Yikes….what was I thinking… I think that is NOT the answer. I am in pain and so is my newly sculpted man. I know it is time for drastic measures. I have that feeling of ” ASHTRAY” but I resist. He is a few critical moves away from becoming that Dolly Elephantman Ken GI Joe ashtray I have always wanted…even if I don’t smoke. I decide to walk away from the man. Cookie break. In desperate need of chocolate I pick the cookie with the most chocolate chips in it. Ahhh…



With a new found sugar rush about to kick in I get back to work. This man needs my help. Ya know what something funny happens. Not funny ha ha funny but something funny happens because I start to like it…or maybe that is the chocolate kicking in ( kidding) It is no masterpiece by any means, but it sure beats my ashtray! I am happy with my results.


All the while I forgot what the instructor……………said at the beginning. You have to have hollow points or your work will explode. Crap….double doo doo, I just has happy with it…can’t I just be happy with it and leave it at that,. Let him explode in a blaze of glory…after all I did kinda name him temporarily GI Joe? He would like that way to die?  Right? No for the better of others, my exploding man could damage other ” real ” art. not that exploding things isn’t real art…that is a different  more theatrical performance based. FINE..I look back at Gecko girl, she is in full swing with this concept ( without being told) Her creation is turned upside down and being hollowed like it was a high school dissection class. Speaking of dissection the gal infront of me with the torso was about to start hollowing hers.


The instructor comes by with a chopstick. That immediately makes me hungry for Chinese, Thai or Vietnamese. This is proof positive that Pavlov was RIGHT. Only thing missing was a bell ringing to make me drool.  Back to the chopsticks. I have to impale my man! It is a weird feeling impaling my little guy and this also proves I can not become “ Dexter“. It makes me uneasy impaling his figure repeatedly but it is a necessary evil.

The one that hurt the most was the one right through the knee cap and up into the thigh going all the way up to the hip area. For some odd reason I think of Nancy Kerrigan and the Tonya Harding incident. ” oh my knee” I hear. I remember watching how cool she was to rehab and come back from that bar in the knee incident to win silver at the olympics and for Toyna to have a ” skate lace” malfunction which messed her ” chi ” all up. Karma can be a real bitch at times.


I plug the holes and find that my man is collapsing . He is not holding strong in the pose I gave him. Really dude? Really? I didn’t ask him to freestyle like that. Sheesh. After a struggle and negotiating with him and  the assistance of small individual yoghurt container ( thanks Gecko lady) we come to some sort of compromise. I think we are both happy with it…because we are not struggling anymore.Impaled

I pack up my extra clay with thoughts of making a quick ashtray for nostalgic reasons. I thought not.  I was somehow beaming like a school kid bringing home that special project you made. I am proud ” he ” didn’t turn into an ashtray. I brought him home, and let him dry in the sanctuary. I will drop ” him ” off to get fired. I will update you on how that goes. So my final answer….. I don’t want to officially name ” him” I don’t want to get too attached in case the little bugger decides to pull a stunt during the firing process and explode. I am now content. I will keep you posted on how he does. Contact me if you feel YOU want to name him!!!! I will accept names on reserve…or is that bad luck?AlmostDone


In the meantime ” he”  has taught me …..Don’t be afraid to try new things.


Don’t be afraid to change your course of direction if need be.


Life has a way of throwing you surprises and at the time you may not appreciate them, but if you stop resisting, let go and release. It might just turn out better than anything else you ever imagined. So on that now. I say YES to Life…and I am truly grateful.


I never would have imagined I would write a LONG blog post like this…there are firsts for everything…embrace them.BUMMER it’s done…get it the last image…LOL


Tracey Harper MPA F/PPOC-BC F/SWPP F/CAPA  CDC, and  a few other things…most importantly LOL should be in there for smiles.

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