Creating a Coleus Mama for Alice in Sweden ~ DAY 1

By Janet Colvin (UniQueTreasures) on March 19, 2010

Alice's husband contacted me about creating a very special Coleus sculpture for her with the only stipulation being that she could watch as we created it. I am going to post the creation of this sculpture in stages. Each day as we work on it, we'll take plenty of photos and some videos. I will compile the photos and put this all into a slide show presentation, adding to it as we go along. But the articles will be only that day's work, with links to the other articles AND to the slide show.

Click on the play button to hear music as you read this article.

Alice in Sweden has a birthday coming up in June. I "met" Alice several years ago in the Coleus forum on Dave's Garden.  Since then we've become friends and communicate through various programs.  Alice is a real sweetheart and when her husband asked her what she wanted for her birthday, she told him she wanted one of our sculptures.  

Her husband contacted me about creating a very special Coleus sculpture for her with the only stipulation being that she could watch as we created it. I am going to post the creation of this sculpture in stages.  Each day as we work on it, we'll take plenty of photos.  I will compile the photos and put this all into a slide show presentation, adding to it as we go along.  But the articles will be only that day's work, with links to the other articles AND to the slide show.

Now the thing about coleus is..... there are soooooooo many colors and combinations of colors in this plant.  But there are NO BLUE COLEUS!  Alice's favorite color is BLUE, so she asked me to incorporate some blue into the lady.2010-03-19/UniQueTreasures/52bf62We started out this afternoon looking over some of the "heady" items we've got in our stash. We've got all kinds of things that we can use for a head.  Everything from Dolphins, to Hearts, Big glass ones!  Anything we think can possibly be used for a head is in this box.  A big ORANGE rose that had the stem broken off looked like it would be perfect for a head.  Connie nipped off some jagged glass where the stem had broken so it would sit flat against the copper coaster that we were going to use for a garden hat.  Connie went into the house to look for a glass drill bit.  We want to drill a hole in the base of the rose so we can put an epoxied screw to hold that coaster on her head.

(All Images will enlarge when clicked to open)

 

2010-03-19/UniQueTreasures/8188ebWhile Connie is searching for the glass drill bit, I am looking through some beads to find some BLUE beads.  Can you see the little "nose" on the rose?  I'm trying to find beads that will be proportionate to that nose. 
I think I'
ve found the perfect BLUE beads for her eyes.

2010-03-19/UniQueTreasures/648427About the time I decide which beads will be used for eyes, etc. Connie returns to the shop and in her hand is this paper weight that had a big yellow flower and 2 "floating" butterflies inside. 

 

 

Immediately we both decide this would be a better head than the rose. This isn't unusual for us to change gears at the beginning. 

 


2010-03-19/UniQueTreasures/104837So now I am thinking those bright blue beads will clash big time with that yellow.  Connie tells me to look for some yellow beads to put in there with the blue and it will be fine.  So I'm digging in the multitude of boxes of beads we have to work with.  Can you believe I couldn't find a single bead that was just the right YELLOW that was also glass.  Some beads have a coating on them that bakes off and leaves nothing but a white bead after being out in the sun for a while.  We learned the hard way on our own sculptures to be very selective about the materials that adorn the sculpture.  So I start picking out some pretty RED beads and BLACK beads that will coordinate with the BLUE beads to make some flowers for her garden hat.

2010-03-19/UniQueTreasures/52bc7b 

 

OK now what?  We need something substantial for a neck to hold her head up.The copper tubing we use comes in several thicknesses.  One in particular we call RIGID is used more for in the wall plumbing.  The bad thing about the rigid copper is that while it's really sturdy, it's not "sculpture friendly" for bending.  A friend of Connie's brought her a whole bunch of copper tubing and wiring from a beach cabin that was demolished 2010-03-19/UniQueTreasures/868349when Hurricane Ike hit Crystal Beach a few years ago.  We have some shorter pieces of it in a bucket and Connie picked out one piece that already had a fairly nice bend going on.  We knew it would need to have a "S" bend to hold the head and then come back down for the dress.  Connie cuts the ends off of the piece and then begins to flatten one end by pounding on it with a hammer.  This flat end will go against the flat side of the paperweight.  She heats it up to soften it a bit for maneuvering it into the shape we need.

2010-03-19/UniQueTreasures/e3a22d We decide to make a skull cap (like we did for the mermaid) for this Coleus Mama.  This time though, instead of making it all one piece, we are going to create leaves that will go around her head, almost "Greenman-ish". 

 

2010-03-19/UniQueTreasures/c256cc 

 

Connie begins to cut out pieces of copper.   She heats them up to manipulate them around the head.  She then cuts a circle that will go behind the flattened copper pipe for the leaves to be welded to.  We have to make sure that whatever we do will support the weight of that big paperweight without letting it fall out.  We have to leave a place to insert the head so add some wires, which will be "pin curls" to the brim of the hat.

 

 


The neck is securely welded to the back plate.  We get the pieces welded to the back of the skull cap. We add some wires for her hair.  Too many hands were needed to get videos of everything, but you can see some of the action here in the video.

2010-03-19/UniQueTreasures/d2459fSomething we always have to keep in mind is the order in which we do things.  We're always planning ahead with each step we take.  Everytime we add something new to the sculpture, we take a chance on turning something else loose when the copper heats back up.  Some wires need to be thinner to fit through the beads we select. Those don't take much heat at all to secure to the copper.  Others can be fairly thick gauged.  The thicker the wire is, the longer it takes to heat up the copper to attach it.  There is a lot of fitting and removing, fitting and removing of the big glass head.  Connie makes all of this look fairly easy, but every time we take that head back out, we take a chance on dropping it and breaking it.  We had a few close calls while creating the skull cap. 

 

 

 


C
onnie put a perm in her hair so she will have a full head of curls. 
Time to try it on for size.  

 

We add a few wires that will be loops.  These loops will hold some beaded chains I'll make to secure the hat onto her head.  They will be "tied" under her chin to prevent the head from coming out of the skull cap.   

 

This is the end result of Day 1.  We are really pleased with the results so far.  We've got plenty of time to get this one finished.  As we complete each phase, I'll add it to the overall slide show, which you can watch at the link.  The slide show will have full size photos and videos that we make as we go along.  (Slide show can be seen here at Coleus Mama for Alice)

 

 

 

 


Related articles:
beads and the sculpture, Coleus Mama, copper sculpture, curling copper wires for curly hair, custom creation, garden art, how to videos, one of a kind, ooak, welding copper

About Janet Colvin
I love unique and unusual things. Connie and I create Copper Sculptures from new and recycled materials. I love thrift shopping and love a good bargain.

I'm married to a great guy, with 2 beautiful daughters and 4 incredible grandchildren and we live in Southeast Texas.

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
Coleus mama Alicesunne Apr 7, 2010 9:38 AM 5
Love the process! Boopaints Mar 29, 2010 1:28 AM 13
Coleus mama for Alice Alicesunne Mar 28, 2010 4:26 PM 24

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