Victorian Skater Pond Scene #1: Sophie and Claude in a One Horse Open Sleigh

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 08-14-2010 01:14 PM 6657 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Victorian Skater Pond Scene series Part 2: Meet "Mr. Snowman" »

This is a project that I will show as an ongoing work in progress.

When I was a little girl, my grandparents had the most wonderful Christmas decorations. They had some beautiful hand-blown glass ornaments from Czechoslovakia among other treasures. One of my all time favorite decorations that they had was a little skating pond scene which they placed under the tree every year. The pond itself was a round mirror and the figures were made of (what I now know is) painted lead. We would use that canned spray snow and spray it around the edge of the mirror to make a snow bank and we would also make little individual snow banks to kind of stick the figures in so they would stand up properly. It was a wonderful memory of my childhood to be able to set up that pond scene and it means very much to me. My grandparents are both now passed on and I don’t know what happened to it.

In my recent travels on Google images, I came across some pictures of a set of skating pond figures that were up for auction at an antique dealer. The original set was made by Nuremberg and they were made of painted lead. This was the identical set that my grandparents owned, although they had only about 1/2 the pieces that were shown. When I saw the set, those wonderful memories immediately flooded back to me.

Since I now do scroll sawing and also painting, I decided to recreate the wonderful skating pond scene and also offer it up to one of the magazines I have been published in called “Christmas 365”, which is a new quarterly publication that deals with Christmas and holiday decorations. I drew up and created a set which consists of about 25 pieces, and includes trees, snowmen and a small foot bridge. The editor from the magazine loved the set and I sent it to her sometime in April. It is pending publication right now and will probably be published in 4-6 issues, as the painting instructions on each piece are quite detailed.

In showing my own set to family and friends, I have decided that I am going to make two additional sets. One to pass down to my son and his family (he really appreciates all the things I make and I know he will love it) and the other to my “family” here in Canada who have adopted me and treated me as a family member since I arrived here. Both had really loved my set when they saw it and I know that they will appreciate it very much.

I will present the pieces as I complete painting each one. They will be documented in an album so you can follow progress and watch as they are added. I have also placed the pictures of the original set in the photo album so you can see the original set. If you click on the title of the album under the picture, I believe it will allow you to see the entire album. I only really copied a few of the pieces, as I kind of modernized the new set and did some additional figures such as children and trees and such. I also have my figures centered around a large dimensional Christmas tree. I still may do some additional figures when I am finished, but for now, it is what it is.

This is really a different kind of painting for me. I don’t really think I am a good cartoonist, but I do think that I did adequately draw the figures for the set. I hope that by recreating it, I will bring some good memories back to others and bring the joy of simpler times into their hearts.

I hope you enjoy taking this journey with me.

The first figurine I finished is the One Horse Open Sleigh:

From SLDP103 Skating Pond Figures

Sophie came from one of the wealthiest families in town. Claude on the other hand, had to work hard for his money all of his life. While Sophie grew up with the finest clothes in a big beautiful house, Claude spent his youth tending the family sheep farm with his father. When he had grown of age, Claude decided he wanted to attend Veterinary school and become a country vet. His many years with animals and his deep compassion were the perfect combination for choosing such a career.

Just before he graduated, he met the lovely Sophie. They immediately fell in love. Although she had many suitors, no one made her laugh and smile like Claude did. Sophie knew that despite their opposite social backgrounds, she wanted to spend the rest of her life with Claude. They married, and to this day they are happy with each other. One of the highlights of their evenings is to take long rides through the countryside in their beautiful sleigh, handed down from Sophie’s family. Often they would end their ride in town and ride through the park to enjoy the beautiful scenery and bustle of the town.

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

6 comments so far

View Jordan's profile


1400 posts in 4337 days

#1 posted 08-14-2010 02:04 PM

I think the design AND the painting are exquisite! Actually, the people are much better than the ones from the originals.


View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 4132 days

#2 posted 08-14-2010 02:07 PM

Thanks so much Jordan. On the first set I didn’t do faces and I really don’t think they are necessary. I think if I try to do them they will look goofy so for now at least I am leaving them alone. I hope to see some of your paintings one day. Do you ever have them posted? I bet they are beautiful!

I will keep adding to this blog as I do the pieces. :)

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 4248 days

#3 posted 08-14-2010 02:43 PM

Beautifully cut. Beautifully decorated. Nice depth in the shading. I agree with Jordan, much better than the originals.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View RonPeters's profile


713 posts in 4092 days

#4 posted 08-14-2010 05:00 PM

Sometimes too much detail is too much detail. No faces makes them universal. One can use their imagination.

You know, you could write a book?! Great skill, great stuff! Love your art….

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4515 days

#5 posted 08-14-2010 10:21 PM

i agree with all said here, and the mention of a book i think is a wonderful idea…have you ever given any thought to that could do a wonderful job and have so much to teach and i think many would be interested in a book …think it over…....sorry about the bites…lol…the whole story is sorta of …is amusing yet i know its been a real struggle for you with them…but over all the whole story here is one that does give me a smile…the berries….the pie…then the bites…maybe you can laugh at all of this when your healed up…i hope so….grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View SallySpiral's profile


5 posts in 4024 days

#6 posted 09-14-2010 02:59 AM

I absolutely love the skating pond and its characters – brings back so many good memories! You are the best!

-- Jeannie, Adirondack Mts.

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