Monday, September 29, 2014

"Lucas & Thomas" - A Commission of Two Brothers

This is a recent commission from a couple that have an 8 year old that loves airplanes, and a 7 year old who loves to steal cookies. Well they like to do other things too - typical boy things - but we decided to focus on these two aspects of their personalities, because, frankly, I thought they would translate into interesting mechanical pieces. The clients wanted the pieces to be hand-cranked, which I like to do from time to time.

Here's how them came together...........

This is the beginning of Lucas's body; he will be "flying" an airplane.

Lucas's body on the left and Thomas's body on the right. A line coming up through the legs will control all the motion.

Here I'm working out Thomas's arm that will reach onto the cookie jar and pull out a cookie. Getting the angle right was a bit of a challenge.

Here I'm figuring out the arm and hand that holds the cookie jar. This arm doesn't move.

I carved the arm and the inner surface of the hand - now on to the rest of the hand.... 

Their two heads - more caricatures than realistic representations.

 The two bodies, all carved and ready for paint. The 4 'doors' protect the mechanisms on the inside.

 All painted, aged, and ready to be assembled.....

Another view.

I'm checking the mechanisms here before adding the head, and the covers that protect the mechanism.

Thomas, all dressed. Putting him together was a bit of a puzzle - final assembly of my figures usually is.

Making the bases. Of course I wanted the bases to be similar, so I had to build them from scratch.

 I carved each of their names in the top and stained both boxes down. I like to see darker wood when I sand through the paint.

Here they are all painted, aged, sanded, and waxed.

Making the mechanisms. I used a couple of gears to gear down the cranks. This prevents the pieces from being wound too fast.

 "Lucas" 10.5" x 15.5" x 8"

A closer shot.

 His head turns and looks at the plane as he glides it back and forth.

Head shot.

The plane, the plane - purchased off of eBay.

 The mechanism underneath - simple, precise, and made to last.

 "Thomas" 10.5" x 15" x 8"

He turns his head from side to side as if to see if the coast is clear - and then steals one more cookie.

I love this shot - it shows a lot of his personality.

 His head.

 The mechanism - one cam, lever, and line to move his head - and one set to move his arm.

 The two boys side by side.

I sometimes wonder at all the tools it takes to make my work. And sometimes I take pictures of my tabletop.

Again, thanks for looking!



  1. What amazing gifts for the parents and the boys. Heirloom keepsakes for the family forever. The boy's own sons and daughters will treasure these long into the future. Bravo!

  2. Yes Shelley, that's the idea. The parents have been buying select artworks for the boys over the years - what a great idea!

  3. When you say 'made to last' I can't help thinking that the polymer clay won't last nearly as long as the wood. I have pieces made from sculpey that are 20+ years old, and are cracking off the armatures. What kind of polymer clay do you use? And how do you paint it? It seems like oil would dissolve it and acrylic would slough off eventually. I usually mix clay for skin tones and use ladies' makeup for complexion graduations.

  4. Hi K-Fran, I use a mixture of Super Sculpey and Primo. I paint it with acrylics. So far, I haven't seen any problems with the polymer clay.