Sandy Christensen’s Clayful Characters

Sandy Christensen’s Clayful Characters

"Old Age and Beauty"

As we traveled south along highway #2 towards Watrous, Saskatchewan for our interview with ceramic artist Sandy Christensen, the sheen of Little Manitou Lake came into view as the gentle relief of land gave way to its shores. It was inevitable that we would visit these therapeutic mineral rich waters for a soak and a float, known as the “Dead Sea of Canada” and one of only three such bodies of water in the world. It was there at Manitou Beach that we also learned the history of Danceland, a 5000 square foot horse hair dance floor that has been around since 1928. Our spontaneous tour of this historic building came from 85 year old Ken Mackie, a veteran dance participant walking laps around the perimeter of the expansive dance floor at about 5 miles per day. Ken has a sharp wit, is humourous, and is an interesting fellow with many stories to tell. It is ironic that we met Ken before Sandy not knowing that he could have been the subject of inspiration for one of Sandy’s creative clay characters.

arts-quest-sandy-christensen-2

Sandy Christensen has always had an affinity for clay, even as a young girl making mud pies. So it was serendipitous that when a woman who had moved back to the area and began teaching pottery lessons that Sandy jumped in and didn’t look back. Without this turn of events she notes that she may have done any number of other activities and never truly found the love for clay. Sandy soon discovered that even though she enjoyed making pots on the turning wheel, what she really loved was hand-building.

"Coffeetime"

“Coffeetime”

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Sandy loves to create ceramic characters and the stories they tell. In her completed works you will see playful youngsters doing what they typically do, familiar sibling interactions, and one little girl taking a stubborn stand against her father to protest…(insert your imagination here). But above all you will see what Sandy loves to create most, the venerable elders such as Ken, with their character lines and endless stories as she catches the essence of these “real” people in their daily lives.

"The Grass is Always Greener..."

“The Grass is Always Greener…”

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Many times Sandy will get commission statues to do for a member of someone’s family, and if that family truly knows the subject; how they dress, hobbies and especially funny quirks or memorable past situations, then Sandy will strive to capture that in her piece. She knows she has nailed it when the unveiling of the characterization evokes fits of laughter. So true to character is Sandy’s interpretation that families occasionally display pieces at funerals as fond remembrances of their loved ones.

"The Conversation"

“The Conversation”

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Sandy reveals that one of her favourite past-times is people watching, and so it makes sense that many of her ideas comes from observing how people look, what they say and what they are doing. She has noticed that if you look at people from a certain region, maybe from a certain occupation or of a certain advanced age, they tend to look very much alike. She notes that as we get older many of us will acquire a similar body shape, the greying hair and usually prescription glasses, revealing a stereotype that she enjoys incorporating into her art work. It is said that the eyes are the window to the soul. For Sandy’s pieces it is the face that is the window to the character. Although everything is important and must be in proportion, Sandy spends the most time on the face, trying to get the accurate likeness of the person and evoking the desired expression. What matters to Sandy is that these little clay characters make you smile.

Enjoy our interview with Sandy and please feel free to share her interview on social media and email. Comments are welcome too!

20 Responses to Sandy Christensen’s Clayful Characters

  1. what a gift! superb, congratulations on bringing so much life and energy into your sculptures who evoke what life is all about.

    • Sandy Christensen says:

      Thank you Elspeth… this is pretty new to me and exciting. Your paintings are beautiful! I love the colour and especially the texture.. I’m always looking for the 3-D effect. Sandy

  2. Joanne Fleming says:

    Wonderful interview!

  3. Sandy Christensen says:

    Thank you Joanne… they did a pretty good job of hiding the wrinkles.. very comfortable folks to talk to. Sandy

  4. Kim Schellenberg says:

    Yes Sandy; you are a fine observer of the Rural Saskatchewan Spirit! I can ‘hear’ the conversation of the two men at ‘Coffee Row’. You capture the quiet, undaunted strength of a people whose wrinkles, grey-hair & twinkly eyes testify to the extended dance/battle they have attended/waged with Mother Nature. ‘Love’, ‘Hope’, & ‘Grace’ results from character-building life-struggles, & you build these qualities into your characters. Love you & what you do.♡

  5. Linda Teneycke says:

    Congratulations Sandy. As always, your work is terrific. This is a great interview. Are you still doing soapstone carving?

  6. Sandy Turner says:

    I so love all your clay characters, Sandy, and don’t know how you manage to get such facial expression with clay. Great interview.

  7. Jenny Plotzki says:

    Great interview Sandy!

  8. Hello Sandy…this has been a really pleasant surprise to hear from folks. I’m glad you enjoyed the piece. Sandy

  9. Hello Linda… Coming from an artist as yourself I really appreciate your thoughts. The soapstone has taken the backseat to clay this last year because the community and me got involved in a lot of art. I am looking forward to getting back to it soon. Sandy

  10. Thanks Kim…I appreciate words from you as an artist yourself. Keep up your good work. Sandy

  11. Frank Wilson says:

    This is an excellent bit of recognition for a major talent in the province! How nice it is to see Sandy highlighted in this fashion. How lucky we are to have this expertise living in our community.
    Cheers, Frank W.

  12. helen herr says:

    Hi Sandy: Look forward to talking to about this site. Good pictures
    and written report. Always enjoy your figurines. Helen

  13. Toni Ambrose says:

    Great interview , Sandy. Good to see you recognized this way.

  14. Thanks Toni I’ll be passing along any understanding I learn from all this. Sandy

  15. Bonnie says:

    What lovely work Sandy, every piece makes me smile!

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