The Daily Courier
New Ogopogo sculpture revealed
Summerland now has its own Ogopogo sculpture created by artist Valorie Nielsen at the request of a local couple.
“Ogopogo will be placed beside their swimming pool with the lake in the background. It will look like she is swimming in the lake,” Nielsen said.
Nielsen realized her Ogopogo was female when the facial features she was sculpting turned out to be soft and feminine. After initially contacting Nielsen about doing an Ogopogo sculpture in 2013, the couple, who wish to remain anonymous, put their on hold until mid-December 2017.
“I wonder if you can build me that Ogopogo for Christmas,” the man asked Nielsen.
She could not oblige him on such short notice; however, she quickly set to work doing extensive research, planning the project andordering the necessary type of clay.
“A big challenge was building the armature. I used a combination of plastic cups and pool noodles insider dryer vent tubing for the humps and neck, and a traffic cone for the tail,” Nielsen explained. She then rolled out the clay, cut it into strips and placed them on the armature. “I had to make a special tool to create the tools,” she said.
The two-metre, 68-kilogram sculpture took six weeks to dry before being fired for 105 hours.
“I used concrete stains and acrylic paints to finish her plus a sealer,” explained Nielsen, who spent 80 hands-on hours plus the countless more hours of research on the project.
Born and raised in the Okanagan, Nielsen was always creative whether decorating cakes or doing wood work.
“When I turned 40, I asked myself what I wanted to do with my life and decided to become a potter,” she said.
She enrolled in a pottery night school course and then worked with the Penticton Potters’ Guild until deciding to work from her home in Summerland.
Eventually, her husband, a building contractor, added an extensive studio to their home and in 2001 she began devoting herself fulltime to pottery.
“I now have the freedom to go wherever my creativity takes me,” Nielsen said.