Last week I was asked to do an epic funeral tribute. A 3D frog sat on a lily pad for a wonderful lady. I have previously done work before for the same family so they trusted me to do the tribute justice. In order to keep costs down for the family, and as I was asked to make the frog look realistic and not to look like Kermit, I decided I would design and make the frog base myself rather than buy in a ready made commercial base. The commercial bases are pretty pricey and I felt I could do just as good a job using an oasis mega brick, two normal sized oasis bricks and a piece of quarter inch ply wood.
The frog took just over two days to complete and I actually remembered to have a camera at hand to take photos along the way! I do normally wait a few weeks after a funeral to post any photos but ‘the frog’ became a massive talking point in the shop as it took up most of my work space counter. Many customers wanted to see the finished tribute after seeing it at various stages of its conception and customers have even popped back to the shop just to look at the photos. So its going out there for all to see and all to admire! Thank you once again to such a lovely family for having faith in me to do another epic tribute for them.
Mega bricks… one brick is 32cm x 45cm x 23cm compared to a normal size brick which is 11cm x 23cm x 8cm. Here is one mega brick with a small drinks can next to it to give you an idea of the size of brick I would be working with.
My first focus was to sculpt the body. This would be the majority of the brick. I cut the end of the brick off at an angle to give the frog a more upright stance. The cut off was later used for legs. I cut a lot of the brick away with a craft knife but oasis is very easy to shape just by rubbing it away whilst it is dry. You can use bare hands, which I have done in the past, but on such a large piece I knew my hands would be in a right old mess by the end so I purchased some dimple palmed gardening gloves and these worked wonders!
The next step was to fashion some big old back legs! I cut the wedge I had previously removed from the mega brick and again, using my hands, I shaped the oasis to look like legs. I was still not sure at this point how I was going to do webbed feet so for now I left the foot area large and square.
Then it was onto the front legs. For each leg I used a normal size oasis brick. Again I fashioned these into legs using my hands. I wanted the front legs to provide some support for the body so had them slightly tucked under the body propping the body up.
Most tribute designs sit on an oasis covered foam base but I knew when the frog was wet and covered in flowers it was going to be heavy. I didn’t feel the foam base was going to be able to take the weight whilst the tribute was moved around from place to place during the funeral. I decided to use a piece of quarter inch ply wood. I drew the rough lily pad shape I wanted and, with the help of my husband, cut the shape out using a jigsaw.
I roughly spray painted the outside of the lily pad green so that if any of the galex leaves (that were to be added later) came loose there would still be green visible rather than wood.
At this point the frog looked very large and rather chubby. I knew that once the flowers were on the frog would look even fatter so I slimmed it down all over. Oasis is very, very dusty when rubbed dry. It is advisable to wear a mask! I also had a hoover hose taped to the desk so it would hoover up the dust straight away. Once I was happy with the frog I glued it to the plywood base using a hot glue gun.
My initial plan was not to soak the whole frog but to surface spray it. Unfortunately the water was not penetrating the oasis as much as I would like and I was getting pushed for time. I slowly poured water over the frog and tested the oasis for dryness by pushing a small wire into the frog. Wet oasis has a different sound to that of dry oasis when something is pushed into it.
Once wet it was time for the flowers! I used feeling green spray chrysanthemums. These were already the perfect colour and would give a warty appearance to the frog. For the belly I used zembla lime spray chrysanthemums, slightly lighter and gave a smoother appearance. Once I started with the flowers I had almost covered the frogs body before I took a photo. (Its very easy to become absorbed in the work!)
The frogs eye was left bare at first while I planned how I was going to do it. I didn’t think flowers would give a very realistic eye so I downloaded pictures of actual frogs eyes, printed them off and laminated them. By attaching a wire to the back of the laminate the eye could be fixed to the side of the frogs head rather easily.
The webbed feet proved tricky and I ended up making the toes using the zembla lime spray chrysanthemums. Its very difficult to get flowers to look like webbed feet!!
Once the feet were done then it was time to work on the lily pad. I used galex leaves for this as they look like little lily pads. Using a glue gun I hot glued the leaves onto the ply wood, overlapping them so it would look like the frog was sat on a bed of lily leaves. As the family wanted message cards to go on the tribute and I didn’t want them pushed into the frog (I felt it would detract from the overall look) I made two little ‘bumps’ for the cards to go into.
And that was it! One 3D frog on a lily pad made from scratch by yours truly.
I love being given the opportunity to make designs like this. A question I often get asked is ‘Is it possible?’ as in.. is possible to make a frog, a chaffinch, a push button accordion? My answer is always ‘anything is possible!’
Judith x x x