Christmas: The Pre-Reindeer Era was a piece commisioned as a
holiday gift. The automaton depicts Santa making deliveries in that legendary time before he acquired his famous
flying reindeer. Poor Father Christmas must do the flying himself -- arms flapping and eyes squinting in the cold wind
-- with his bag of toys trailing behind him in tow.
The piece features a detailed house and landscape over which Santa Clause flies. The roof of the house was covered with
individual miniature wooden shingles. The bag is made of balsa wood to reduce weight. The internal mechanism employs
a scotch yoke. Santa is mounted upon a blacked brass piston assembly.
The scene is tinted with a light metalic blue to create the effect of a frosty, moonlit Christmas Eve. A pearlecent medium
was added to the paint to enhance the effect. A faux-frost effect may also be found in the corners of the windows.
Stages of Development
The initial sketch was very small. To get a better feel for what the flapping Santa would look like, I converted the
sketch into a simple animated GIF. The in-progress shot shows the piece before the clapboards were added to the house,
or the walkway and steps carved into the snowly lawn. The store-bought turned wooden tree marks the location
for what would eventually become a hand-carved tree.
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