Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Day one at the grizzly class

I arrived here in Billings Sunday evening. The first thing that I noticed was that it's WARM here! Yesterday marked the first day working with Jan Schoonover learning how he creates his amazing bear sculptures in leather. We're working at Jan's house. That has the benifits of being right there where he works everyday. I had the chance to see what he's been working on lately (some really neat stuff). He also pulls out things that he's done earlier in his career as we talk about all kinds of stuff. I bet most of you didn't know that Jan used to design, build and race speed boats, did you? At one time he held 7 world records as his boats went as fast as 120 mph! One of the boats he built and raced crossed the wake of a tug boat on a river and went airborne. He said that it was clocked at 113 mph. The really scary part was that at the time it was 26 feet in the air at the time, upside down. He was throw out just before it came back down into the water, flipped over and sank! Jan showed me a couple wooden models of boats he has built in the past, and of one he still hopes to build in the future.

Well, we did work on the bear too :o) We started by tracing the pattern. Just that part of the process was eye opening for me. The tracing pattern was two parts. The first was a normal tracing pattern for a bear. The second was a smaller part of just the nose that has been distorted so that once all the cutting, stretching and filling is done, it will still look like a bear. We then cut, beveled and added some of the hair texture. Once this was done we started to cut the nose and mouth of the bear loose from the leather. If you saw our leather now, you'd probably think this was a practice piece gone terribly wrong, but I have confidence that Jan knows what he's doing :o)

Here's a couple pictures of where we're at after day one.

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