Getting out of the comfort zone

Tanjore doll making

Every now and then life throws a few curve balls at us! For me this was trying to make a tanjore doll that would sway and eventually find its balance. The customer approached me to make a wedding anniversary gift that would convey a message. The idea was to make a tanjore swaying doll! The client had seen this in a kannada movie earlier and thought that it would be a good idea as a gift with a message. The idea is that life would push us and maybe make us unstable. The idea was that we could always bounce back, or in this case find our balance and lead life rather than have other things lead us.

Swaying Tanjore doll - Attempt1 clay
Swaying Tanjore doll - Attempt1 Final

I took up that challenge and started sculpting it. The idea to make a swaying doll is similar to Roly-Poly dolls that were once popular. The base had to be round and had to be heavier than the entire doll. That would have to lower the center of gravity and the doll would just sway back!

It was decided that the doll would be made in terracotta clay. This would have its own problems of moisture, shrinkage, warping and lasting the firing process. The first attempt hit a snag. The doll looked awesome! The only problem was that the base wasn't a complete smooth curved surface as it was made by hand. Uneven shrinkage altered the weight distribution too! The doll wouldn't come back up once swayed! I had to inform the client as there would be a delay in delivery.

Swaying Tanjore doll - Attempt1 sculpt
Swaying Tanjore doll - Attempt1 GIF
Swaying Tanjore doll - Restart

I had to get the help of the cool people at Claystation to make one for me like they would make a pot, throw clay on a wheel. They made a few different bases of different sizes and we allowed them to shrink and dry uniformly. That way we could push it around and check its balance. Once that was figured out the head was sculpted on top. This time to avoid risks, I made two more of these just in case one didn't survive the firing or some warping could end up throwing off its balance. As much as I could, I checked the balance every time I added a bit of terracotta clay!

Swaying Tanjore doll - Paints
Swaying Tanjore doll - Attempt2 Views
Swaying Tanjore Doll - Front

Luckily they both survived the firing and were swaying the correct way! I then sanded the bases just to be sure that there wouldn't be any problems. They were painted with arcylic paints! You can take a look at the final piece that I delivered to the customer here.

The idea that I would like to convey is that we will face difficulties and that might force us to admit that we made a mistake too! We have to persevere and only then can we acheive our targets, or they will just end up being failed attempts. It is wise to kill your ego, get counsel and sometimes ask for help!

God bless you and may challenges shape you up rather than destroy!

Swaying Tanjore doll - Attempt3 restart