Friday Two Cents: A New Québec Inspired Build


 

 

twoCentsOldNew

As I stated in my previous posts, I have been engaged in several artistic projects this Christmas season. One of them was to create something new for my Christmas town. A couple of weeks ago I mounted my Christmas town in the school. I started this tradition about 7 years ago at the same time when my niece arrived. I created the Christmas town several years earlier and over the span of about 10 years I added new buildings and other items to create a 19th century Dickens style town. Every building in the town is hand painted by me and I even created several unique pieces including the hill and the castle on it.

In the past few years I have added little things to the town such as trees, horses, people and a flying Santa sleigh and reindeer. Yet I have not created any new buildings, well until this year. Drawing on my experiences on my Québec trip this summer, I was inspired to create a traditional Québec home and a flying canoe or ‘la chasse-galerie’.
Stage 1) I began by creating the basic shape of the building using cardboard. I wanted a single story with two chimneys and a front and back veranda. This is typical of many early homes in Québec. The front slope of the roof is longer and curved but also the side of the roof is almost flush with the building.
Stage 2) I then got plaster of Paris and coated the entire cardboard building. It did not look pretty but I knew that I would be carving the home shape and details once the plaster dried. This stage was the most time-consuming and labour intensive. I could not simply scrap of chisel away. I had to be careful not to press too hard or the plaster would crack. Once I got the basic shape of the building I carved out little details such as the doors, windows, chimneys, verandas and a pine tree.
Stage 3) Once the carving was done, I painted the entire piece with white acrylic paint. While that was drying, I got some Fimo clay and began moulding a canoe with people in it. I modeled it after many images of the Voyageurs from early French Canadian history and culture. Fimo clay is malleable at first but it becomes hard once you bake it in the oven.
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Moulding a flying canoe or ‘la chasse-galerie’ using Fimo clay

Stage 4) I placed the clay flying canoe in the oven for about 30 minutes; I then continued to paint the building. Typically the early buildings used stone from the indigenous rocks of Canada. A lot of it was grey and irregular shaped. I painted this onto the exterior of the building with other details of the tree, doors and windows. I then used a clear acrylic varnish to paint the snow areas to give it a semi-gloss look.
Stage 5) Once the flying canoe cooled down I painted it and the people using acrylic paint. I painted the canoe to represent a birch bark canoe. I then painted the paddles and people accordingly. If you look close there are 7 people, one in the back steering and 6 paddling. As well I painted them with beards and wearing furs.
Stage 6) After the paint dried I wrapped a white pipe cleaner around the canoe and placed the ends in the chimneys of the building. I drilled small holes in the chimneys earlier to accommodate this idea.
I then placed the new building in my town with the flying canoe for the entire school to see. Many of the French Canadian teachers recognized the flying canoe or ‘la chasse-galerie’. Everyone loved the new Québec inspired addition to the Christmas town.  
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