The power of the almighty googly eye does not cease to amaze me. My plans to make a kind and wise looking tree were thwarted by those eyes, turning said tree into a purveyor of nightmares. It began innocently enough, with the new season of Game of Thrones inspiring me to think of a project about enchanted forests and trees, and the role they’ve played in so many wonderful books and movies. Think of the Ents in Lord of The Rings, the grumpy apple trees in The Wizard of Oz, Grandmother Willow in Pocahontas, and the troll trees in Bridge To Terabithia…which brings us to talking trees. Just remember, when making your own, the use of googly eyes is optional.
Category Archives: clay
“If people did not sometimes do silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done.” Ludwig Wittgenstein.
He’s got a point, and that’s what this project is all about. Making a silly creature means letting your imagination go wild and the sillier, the better. Think wings, multiple eyeballs, crooked and disjointed parts, anything goes. Then we can move onto something more intelligent.
Ganesh is the elephant-headed Hindu god of wisdom, success, and good fortune. He is one of the most popular Hindu deities whose birthday is celebrated during the Ganesha Chaturthi Festival falling between August 20th and September 15th. This god is hugely popular, and is prayed to before starting important things such a new job or even before writing school exams!
Ganesh has a long trunk, big ears, and a large pot-bellied body of a human being. His four hands each hold a symbolic object. In his upper right hand he holds an elephant goad (rod) which helps remove obstacles and be steered in the right direction. The noose in Ganesh’s upper left hand helps to capture all difficulties. His lower right hand is used to bless his devotees. Finally, a modak (sweet rice ball) or a lotus flower is held in his lower left hand, as a symbol of human evolution and joy.
Several months before the Ganesh Chaturthi celebration, beautifully decorated clay and plaster models of Ganesh are made by artisans. They are used to decorate homes and local communities throughout the festivities. We will be making a clay model of Ganesh. Now that you’ve learned a bit about this god, why not see if there’s a celebration in your community, so you can experience the festivities first hand.
Charlotte Gainsbourg’s song Greenwich Mean Time planted the seed for wanting to make a crooked house. If you listen to the lyrics, you’ll find the song’s inspired by this old English nursery rhyme:
There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse.
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.
This had me wandering about the internet for examples of unusual and crooked architecture, of which there is plenty. You can view some amazing images here: UNUSUAL ARCHITECTURE .
All cultures have some form of good luck charm, like the rabbit’s foot or four-leaf clover. In Ancient Egypt, charms were known as amulets and were usually in the form of plants, animals, or sacred objects. They were thought to provide protection against evil or danger, as well as bringing good luck. These ornaments or jewelry were even placed with the deceased to ensure they had a safe afterlife. Some amulets are currently on view at the Art Gallery of Ontario. I had children make these clay necklaces, inspired by the exhibition King Tut: The Golden King and The Great Pharaohs.