"Walking carefully on thin ice, mama polar bear comes face to face with mister walrus." Are they about to strike a conversation? That would depends if they are friends or not! Are they? You might ask yourself that question when you see my latest paper diorama, "The Polar Night", which is now available for sale at Entertaining Elephants, a local LA children's store.
I honestly didn't know much about polar bears until I asked Google, which as usual gave me a ton of images and facts to digest. You could do that as well but the tricky part is selecting just a handful to tell one story in a unique way. That starts with researching facts and looking at a whole lot of images (until I almost feel like a polar bear myself!).
5 polar bear facts that inspired my diorama
1. Polar bears eat seals. Normally they camouflage and sneak up on them either from behind or when they come up for air (for that they have to be real quiet). But in this cool vintage engraving above they almost look like friends, which is odd, but I like to play with that kind of ambiguity.
2. Although they go for seals 95% of the time, polar bears also eat walruses (the weird looking seal in the engraving above is actually a walrus). Though it's harder for bears to catch them or avoid their sharp tusks when the walruses are underwater. But whether seals or walruses, arctic foxes like to eat leftover carcasses left by the bears.
3. Only the moms care for the young. After mating the father's is off doing its own thing while the mom digs the den, delivers the cubs then takes care to raise them for two and a half years. I guess nature is not always fair! (You should watch this National Geographic video with flirting bears, so cute and funny)
4. Polar bears don't hibernate, unless it's a female who's expecting. Other than that they stay up year round. Also, polar regions have what's called a polar night, during which it's dark pretty much all the time. That's why I named my diorama "The Polar Night".
5. With climate change polar bears are walking on thin ice, and because of that may become extinct. That's because they need the ice to be able to hunt seals. When it melts they have to go on the mainland and eat whatever they can (berries, grass, moss, and sometimes even trash humans leave behind). But they need fat to be healthy.
So what does the story sounds like? I imagined something like this:
Walking carefully on thin ice, mama polar bear comes face to face with mister walrus. Not far behind is her eager but cautious little cub, stumbling and doing his best to keep up.
Despite his greatest effort to stay quiet on his first hunt, he couldn't stop the fragile ice from crackling under his stubby feet. Too bad, mister walrus heard them coming and jumped in the water. No walrus dinner tonight! Darn. Arctic fox down below was hoping to feast on the leftovers.
But where is papa bear? Chilling by the igloo, watching the stars? Or maybe.. he's spying on the nearby seal? The family might have a nice meal after all!
The making of
Next it's making the props, prepping the box, and assembling the whole thing. Watch the video below to see how I did it!
If you like what you see and would love to have your own, feel free to contact me via email to discuss a commission. Or, if you like it but would prefer something flatter (and cheaper), maybe you would enjoy my whale print.