Searching for Metstli (Part 3 of 3)

I've been dragging this story for a while, and what a best time to write it than one year after I took part in the amazing Pictoplasma Academy! 

In the previous posts I showed how all the little pieces were being made and the development of the characters, and this was all relatively easy ... the hard part would be to put everything together and finish it off. The big question was if the air-dry clay would hold on the wire and if the pieces would stick to it. There was only one chance to do this, and to be honest if this hadn't worked out I have no idea what I would have done ha! 


The tricky part of this process is that I had to trust there were enough pieces - since it all had to be stuck into the air dry clay within 24hrs. Also I had an idea of how it would look, but it was still a big improvisation and "going with the flow" thing in the end. 


And once it was all set, it was time to let it dry. When I saw it all set up in grey tones (except a few things I had painted to try colours) with the soft salmon, I actually really liked it! Made me re-think if I should paint it at all... And of course something had to go wrong. The next morning I found cracks - probably from adding too much water to the clay. This meant reparation time and definitively adding color! 

Painting all the details that were already stuck had its own tricks. But In the end it was great to  be at the final stages! And when it was all finished it was just the biggest achievement ever! BUT it still had to get to Berlin! Carefully packing everything and taking it home was the worst. Thankfully it made it in almost one piece.. just some minor details that broke - but were easily fixed! 

After intense weeks of work, sleeples nights and just talking to my dog.. I made it to Berlin. That week at the Pictoplasma festival was too full of emotions and experiences that I can't put into words. It was great to have such a diverse show, see completely different approaches to character development and to have professional feedback on my piece. 

For some reason I am still not sure how to continue with Pali's world. I think I've been stuck in the idea it has to be something grand and amazing. Prints, a book, a comic too many options and too much of a personal project to move carelessly around it. I hope I can find a way to close this chapter as it has defined so much of who I am as an illustrator and where my passions lie. 


To finish this ridiculously long blog post, I would like to thank everyone that was there during this amazing journey - special shout out to Matt who without I would have never applied to pictoplasma to start with and came to help at each crisis, Raul, Anna & Nathan my pictobuddies that are so far but yet so close and we pushed each other onwards till the end, the Pictoplasma team without this would have never been possible (Rilla thank you for your positive energy!), Ad who was a life saver with his mad welding and carpentry skills, Victoria for being there and having the guts to get that studio for us, Adam Szuly Photography who took the amazing shots of my work-in-progress and end piece (even when his back was killing him), Joost & Tjido my family and love. 

Yep that was cheesy as hell... 

Searching for Metstli (Part 2)

In Part 2 of the "Searching for Metstli" series,  I want to show how the characters of my Tree of Life were made. I started with what I thought would be the easiest working towards Pali, the main character and most complex one. 

I had first intended to make 6 characters: 

  • Metstli - The moon
  • The Coyote - young, fun and trouble maker 
  • The turtle - goddess of rivers
  • The wise lizard - old and full of knowledge
  • The Armadillo - Pali's friend 
  • Pali - your cactus spirit and main character!

But it was quickly obvious this was too ambitious - so in order to be sure I would finish this piece I decided to cut down the characters of the tree to 4. This turned out to be a smart move! 

The process

For all of the pieces I started with a wire frame, for the bigger bodies some aluminium foil filling and then Super Sculpey.

After the sculptures were finished and baked, I sanded the pieces and added a primer coat. They were painted with acrylics and finished off with a matte varnish. 




A Bumpy Ride

This process was not always smooth! I had problems with my little oven that didn't regulate temperature so well, and was too small sometimes. The most dramatic moment was when trying to attach Palis head and her body... She was burnt and one of her feet burnt! 



Success with foil package! 

Success with foil package! 

Had to take a break... and after allot of interent research I found a smart way to cook my pieces: with an aluminium foil bag. It's slower but much better!!! Sanding and filling made the pieces slik again. 



The Turtle

Goddess of rivers the turtle carriers the depths of water in her and supplies rivers and other water sources with this basic element for life. On one of her journeys she came across the Coyote, who was thirsty and tired. She told him to continue his path and he would find water, but being stubborn the coyote (without recognising who she was) decided instead to eat her. After being very sick and thirsty, he throws up and now understanding who she is, he sows all the pieces back together. This is why her shell is made up of pieces. 

A GIF showing some pictures of the process until the primer is added. 

A GIF showing some pictures of the process until the primer is added. 


The Coyote

Symbol of youth and adolescence, his decisions are not always the smartest ones. He is known in many legends as a joker and trickster- so he wanders the deserts looking for amusement. He has a close relationship with the moon, since he made his friend, the hare, jump so high he landed in the moon. 



Pali is our main character and hero of the story! She's a small cactus spirit that helps cacti buds grow and flowers bloom. She can do her job thanks to her magic poncho that channels the moonlight to increases her powers. She grew up with family of pigmy owls and therefore has allot of knowledge. Her home is a tall cactus, but she frequently visits her friend Armadillo who helps tak care of the cacti buds. 


The Moon

I don't have so many pictures of the moon as it was actually my final piece and I was freaking out slightly. On Metstli we can see the white hare, the image that Pali sets out to find in her adventure! Metstli comes out to play when the coyote howls to her. 


This was just the beginning...

Next post will be the building of the tree, painting and the finished piece! 





Searching for Metstli (Part 1)

Hi everyone! 

Again one of my sporadic blog posts to talk to you about my latest personal project: the Searching for Metstli sculpture! I think I will split this story in 3 parts so you can look at all steps. 

It all started, as you might know, in September of 2015 as I attended the Pictoplasma Academy, where I developed my "owl kid" character to have a story of her own and a world. After those epic 10 days, we had 6 months to work on our piece for the final exhibition in May. 

Through the upcoming posts, I want to show you some of my work-in-progress and the story behind this colourful sculpture and my main character Pali! 

It all started with tons of research, a trip to Mexico to visit family and an urge to use my heritage in some way, as I have realised that it influences allot of what I do. So this image bowl is what I send and my master plan... 

I have been fascinated by "arboles de la vida" (tree of life) since I can remember! So many details and colours, its one of my favourite craft works from Mexico! But I had never really thought about how they actually make them... so that was part of my research as well as deciding which materials to use. I went for Super Sculpey, a polymer clay that doesn't dry until you bake (and I had previously worked with it during Pictoplasma). The base would be wood and the frame made out of wire. the traditional tree is made completely out of natural clay. 

I made a sketch of what it should look like and started making a"list" of how many elements I had to make (this list was such an underestimation!!!! hahaha). And then, well I slowly started working on some pieces and seeing what was realistic and what wasn't. 


Next time I will show you how the characters developed and when tragedy struck...