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Protection and Prosperity

My giant totem is finished and installed!!!

I had the idea for a large totem a couple of years ago.  I imagined a giant, 20 foot, totem erected in the middle of my town.  I have not figured out, yet, how to get the county to go for that idea.  Then, last summer I started making some smaller, table top size totems.  You can see one of them in a blog post here.  Mark had some fabulous ideas on how to finish them and between us, we have created some great pieces. Then, in the fall, he said- we need a big totem for our house.  I hemmed and hawed thinking it would be such an enormous project.

But, in October we went up to lumber yard and chose our log.  We looked at a lot of wood, but settled on a piece that had been sitting, drying flat in a stack of logs for a while.  It is about 14" diameter and 9 feet tall.  We had the yard cut a flat side which turned out to be about 11" across on one side of the log.  We got it home and there it sat in our side yard for a couple of month.  Fall time is very busy with shows for me so I didn't have the time to work on it, but we made an outline pattern so that when my shows were done, I could start drawing the animals.

In mid December I finally had time to start.  I chose the animals and started drawing and then just dove in and cut the glass.  It took 2 firings per piece and a lot of time in painting and frit work to finish each section.  The coyote is cut in 3 parts, there is 1 part for each of the skunk and the raccon, and the eagle has the body section, the head section and then 8 seperate pieces of glass for each wing.  Plus there are 4 divider sections between the animals and below the coyote. I worked on it pretty solid and finally finished all of the glass pieces a couple of weeks ago.

The weather has been cooperating fairly well this year with small snow storms in between long sections of warmer weather.  I was able to glue the glass onto the wood pole during a bout of 50 degree weather.  That is still fairly cold for my adhesive, but we set it out in the sun during the day and let is set for about 10 days to ensure curing. The head and wings are mounted on custom cut 1/4" plexiglass.  We mounted the hardware to the plexi and then glued the glass to the plexi and brought them into the house to cure.

The animals on this totem are a coyote holding a fish which symbolizes prosperity, a raccoon holding a pinecone which symbolizes curiosity, a skunk holding an acorn with symbolizes protection and a big, bold eagle which symbolizes creativity.  Each of these animals was chosen because they are very common around our home in the San Bernardino mountains and they impart feelings that I wanted associated with our home.

I am so happy with the finished product.  And the fact that installation went so smoothly.  This was my first attempt at anything so large and it is only installed at my home, but I am still so proud of myself and my husband for what we accomplished.

Here are some photos of the process of installation and the final result.

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"Protection and Prosperity Totem" 2013 copyright, Cheryl Chapman
Finished size - 10 ft tall, Wingspan of 5 ft wide. 

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