Note: We have a rule in the Holmes household that any gift that is meant to be enjoyed during Christmas should be given before Christmas. So don’t worry, this blog post isn’t spoiling my alliance partner’s holiday gift. Not that she reads my blog anyways…
“Community” is my new jam. It’s the show I watch on Thursday night, then put on again later that night while I’m writing. The alliance partner loves it too. In fact, after the claymation episode a few weeks ago (‘Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas’) she could not stop laughing at the sight of Senor Chang (Ken Jeong) in claymation form.
So I decided to make her a Snowman Chang of her own.
The original plan was to find a generic snowman figure, paint over or sand down the features of the face, and turn it into a reasonable facimile of the claymation figure.
Every freaking snowman figurine was either wearing earmuffs or a winter jacket or a Hawaiian shirt. Hallmark and about a half-dozen other stores totally let me down. I thought about making my own out of clay. After all, a snowman is basically just three balls. I made them all the time when I was a kid growing up in St. Louis. But what about baking it? I don’t own a kiln and don’t know anybody who has access to one.
Crayola air-dry clay! Who even knew this was a thing? It’s basically a kiln in a big plastic tub. Thank you, Internet.
Only one problem with this stuff though, if you’ll look at the bottom you’ll see it claims that this product is white, which if I’m not mistaken is the perfect color for snow.
Nope, it looked more like this…
Yeah, there’s no flash on this picture, my bad, but it was more of a muddy gray than a snowy white. No worries though, that’s what paint is for.
So, I went to work. I rolled a torso and a base. I’ve never actually worked with clay before, but anything that has the potential to make a mess is cool with me. I rigged some wire supports to keep Senor Chang in one piece. Also, I set some wire outlines for his arms. I wanted him to be posed in a similar stance as he was in the show when he said, “I’m Chang.” He had a hand on his hip, and his right thumb pointed at himself.
I then fleshed out the arms, wrapping clay around my wire bases. This was harder than I had anticipated, as the clay didn’t mold as easily as I would have liked. Also, I wish I had made the arms shorter and fatter.
From looking at some source photos, it seemed like Chang’s head was sitting on top of his scarf. So, I gave him a neck.
Next up was Snowman Chang’s head. Unlike most traditional snowmen (or snowwomen, we don’t discriminate here) his head is larger than his torso.
I didn’t have a clay scalpel (I’m positive that’s not the proper term for that tool, if any sculptors visit this post, please feel free to correct me) so I used a pushpin. His face isn’t that detailed, so it wasn’t very difficult to recreate his features.
And then we wait. This style of clay only takes a few days to dry, then it’s hard and ready to finish off.
So here’s the final result after a few coats of paint and a scarf.
In hindsight there are about a dozen things I would’ve done differently. His head shape is off, he’s too tall, his face is too big, his eyes are a touch too small…etc. But, whenever the alliance partner looks at it now she laughs in the same way she laughed when she saw the original. And in the end it was probably that laugh that I was actually trying to replicate.