Margaret Furlong Blog | Everyday Life & Porcelain Design Inspiration



Earlier this week on our daily walk after lunch, I shot these photographs. Flower petals and cottonwood seeds surrounded by a cottony substance cover the ground in delicate profusion.

Bleeding hearts line the path and steps along the east side of the house. There are the classic large blooming pink and white flowers, pure white ones and modest pale pink, wild bleeding hearts filling in between.

I love the contrast of bleeding heart blooms with the fresh new leaves of the hostas. There is also a brilliant fuchsia azalea in the background that just matches and repeats the pink of bleeding hearts. These blossoms herald the spring and take us into summer!

Today I have finished the original model for the Summer Angel’s head and she is now wearing a crown of shells. I began with a 3-dimensional sketch based on my pencil sketch and after many more 3-dimensional sketches, the final design finally evolved.  The shell crown continued to work, but I simplified the halo and unified it with the butterfly design with the simple little curl at the center. In reproducing the pencil sketch in porcelain, the details were too fine and would therefore be too fragile for the production process as well as in the final fired form.

It is delightful to make a move in the design process that unifies and completes a composition. But actually sometimes these simple direct answers can elude me until they seem to come out of the blue and alleluia the design is done! I am thankful to God for all and every design He gives me.

One nostalgic aspect of this design is that the shell crown is a variation of the shell crown of the very first 5” Limited Edition Angel, The Caroler, which I designed and made in 1980.

This week I am devoting my time to designing the 5” Summer Angel. This angel is the second angel in a series of five angels titled Seasons of a New Millennium; actually the 5th series of five 5” angels since I began in 1980. Wow that’s a lot of fives – it’s also interesting that the Biblical meaning of five is “Grace”. I am sure that only by the grace of God that I will have finally been able to complete the design of this angel.

I started this series in 2000 with the Spring Angel and it is now 12 years later that I will introduce the 2nd angel. This has been a long wait for my collectors. I had a not so recent conversation with a dear and faithful collector, Sydney Uthoff. She asked me when I would be introducing my Summer Angel. She went on to comment that it had been a long wait for summer to come and now I can joyfully let you know that Summer is almost here; in fact in few short weeks we will be offering this new angel who holds a butterfly. The butterfly is such a magnificent symbol for summer; full of lightness, movement, beauty, warmth and last but not least the symbol of metamorphosis. I chose the butterfly to represent summer 12 years ago and now am aware that this theme is perfectly appropriate for the reintroduction of the 2nd angel in the Seasons of a New Millennium series. The theme of the whole series is “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.”

The photographs above include some of the processes that I have been doing this week. I always start with sketches and sometimes the final design looks just like the sketch and other times it evolves into an entirely different design. This is always an exciting process because as a design evolves it is a rhythmic process where I give myself over to the design and let it flow to see where it takes me. I know that I have to work diligently and be completely confident that the final result will be good. Otherwise the rabbit trails and mistakes along the way have the power to discourage me. I am thankful for each design and feel fortunate to be on the receiving end.

Although I had lots of different ideas for the butterfly, my final selection has ended up to be a rather simple shell butterfly with a round overall shape and a scalloped edge to echo the shell body. I have pressed and shaped and formed these delicate parts and pieces and I am refining edges and putting them together to form the final butterfly design.

You can see that my design table is a bit messy. Even though my table is large I find that as I work almost every square inch get covered with models, tools, clay scraps and sketches until I am cramped and working on the edge of the table with no room to spare. It’s time to finish when there’s no room left.

The last image shows the initial model that I will now caste in plaster. There’s still work to be done in finalizing thicknesses and refining the final form for the master mold. I’ll give you updates as I finish the butterfly and work on the head design.

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