When we were approached to make a Traditional Swaying Doll in Terracotta, we felt that this was going to challenge us! Every order is different in its own way! This posed not only a challenge to make it look good, but there was a functional aspect to this challenge!
The traditional swaying doll is mostly used to show that life will be unsettling and might rock us, but we can bounce back and maintain equilibrium. It is this concept that makes one to reflect on life and be able to let go of their worries!
This is the same concept used in rolly poly dolls and other balloon doll that kids can hit and it can regain its balance after swaying around. So we followed the concept of having a two pinched pots joined to make a hollow ball and then attach a hollow head. The base had a hole so that we could fill in something that could make the base heavier!
The doll looked amazing. It was the correct size that the customer had asked for. It looked pretty as hell. But it couldn't sway!
Even with the additional base weighting, the overall balance was off. To make things worse it would just fall over to any side as the base was uneven as I used my fingers to pinch the base into shape. Even those small bumps were enough to make it fall. This was a failure!!
What can you do when things fail? You followed the rules and did everything the right way. But somehow the project failed!!
That's where some sayings help: "Try and try until you succeed!" "You may fall down, but success is in picking yourself back up!"
All those sayings can motivate, but it takes a different kind of a trait to move forward. I started asking everyone I knew for advice and tried out different suggestions. Thankfully the client agreed to allow me to experiment some more!
I took the advice of an intern at Claystation (Ayushi Vijay) and had a few shapes made (thrown) on a wheel. All these resembled an egg but the base was made thicker to lower the center of gravity. Now that these were made on the wheel, there were no bumps on the base and they would be able to sway without a problem.
With every element added I had to check for balance again! Some places were made thicker and some were very thin. Some details were skipped so that they wouldn't throw the doll off balance and we opted to paint the detail needed rather than sculpt it.
This was our second attempt!
With time slowly running out I couldn't afford to go one method at a time till firing and wait to see what happened. So took time to apply all the methods into as many as I could and allow them to slowly dry uniformly and then take them into firing.
We finally hit the jackpot and found that two were working correctly after firing!
Here's a video showing them swaying after painting. One figure turned out to be taller than the client needed. So we had to part with the other doll. Do click it to see more pictures of the one we proudly delivered! We finally succeeded!
There were a bunch of things that we learned from this project!
- Know as much about any project and test them out first
- If needed, don't be shy or have your ego destroy you; ask for advice
- It all will make sense in hind sight, for now apply all the suggestions!
- Give credit to those who helped you! (Ayushi, Akshaya, Suchitra, Arpita, Dinkar, Ganesh Meshak and the ever supporting people at Claystation)
While we are on the concept of getting out of our comfort zones, please do check out another challenge!