In order to breathe life into my Cracker Packer figures I need to work with live models. What I need are two women, one taller than the other, to model for me. Using actual Cracker Packers is not an option because of the distance between my studio and their homes in Carlisle. The next best thing? My wonderful sisters, Sandra and Jenni. Later on, I also draft in the wonderful Rosie.
Models are a central part of the process. Working with them can be a real joy. And working with my sisters, particularly so. They are incredibly supportive – my cheer leaders, my motivators. They are also incredibly patient as I measure every inch of them and make them stand in awkward positions for hours. What would I do without them. Importantly, they also bring nice little treats to the studio for us to snaffle.
Like Rodin, I use the traditional technique of sculpting the figure unclothed first, before sculpting the clothes. However, for the Cracker Packer from the olden days (Jenni/Rosie), I initially sculpt her wearing a corset, as this changes the body’s appearance significantly.
McVitie’s kindly provided one of their current white housecoats for Sandra to wear. From talking to the retiree and current Cracker Packers, it was likely that jeans would be worn underneath with safety shoes on their feet. Sandra brings her jeans and I buy some cheap safety shoes.
As for the Cracker Packer from the early 1900s, I’m so lucky that Rosie is also a fabulous seamstress and an expert in period costume. She takes away the archive photos to study. Back comes this fabulous Cracker Packer costume for her to wear. This is worn over the Cracker Packer’s own clothing.