Brandon Isaak with two of the "mini-legends" he's made of clay. "But I do not just do musicians or legends," says the Surrey-area musician. "I did a series of hobos and the guy in my one hand is Homesick Joe. In the other hand a commissioned piece of Bob Marley." (submitted photo: Cindy Mae)

Surrey musician’s clay ‘Mini-Legends’ make the most of pandemic’s quiet days and nights

‘It’s actually turned out to be quite a booming little business,’ says Brandon ‘Yukon Slim’ Isaak

Acoustic-blues musician Brandon Isaak is busy sculpting a side career as a maker of “Mini-Legends.”

With extra time on his hands, due to fewer music-playing gigs during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Surrey-area artist turned his attention to clay sculpture.

“I build the skeleton out of wire, and then you put clay around the skeleton,” explained the Whitehorse-born Isaak, also known as Yukon Slim.

“It takes a long time to get it all right,” he added. “I use a little pasta machine to roll my dough out flat, my clay, and I work off photos to capture as much of the character as I can. That’s basically what happens.”

On Facebook, the award-winning musician has launched a “Mini-Legends” page to showcase his “custom-sculpted folk art figures built at your request.” He’ll build anybody if you send him photos.

“Some of the orders are for me to do somebody’s son, for example, and I’ll get a photo of the person – sometimes it’s a blurry photo or a silhouette of somebody, so that’s interesting,” Isaak said with a laugh.

“And it doesn’t have to be a musician – that’s just what I like to build for myself, and that’s what most people ask for.”

Recent works include figures of Bob Marley, R. L. Burnside, Johnny Cash, Sonnyboy Williamson and Robert Johnson, among others.

“I’ve done some local musicians too, like Mike Schau,” Isaak said. “A radio DJ in the States just got hold of me to make a Samantha Fish, so that’s pretty much just a mini skirt with a guitar, right. But it seems I specialize in ugly men, so that one is interesting – I have to do legs and high heels, so we’ll see. That one might end up being on the house, we’ll find out,” he added with a laugh.

(Story continues below Facebook posts)

The figures are about nine or 10 inches high, and each require 14 to 18 hours to make. Prices range from $300 to $500.

“I try to keep it to around $300 if possible,” Isaak said. “Some people think it’s a steal of a deal and others are like, ‘Oh my lord, that much?’ But really, I’m working for, what, $16 an hour at that rate, so it’s minimum wage. But it’s a labour of love and I enjoy making them, so that helps, right.”

In “normal” times, the White Rock-raised Isaak plays his music four or five nights a week at various venues in Metro Vancouver, but that number has dwindled during the pandemic.

“We always kept busy, but now it’s a bit different – tough times for everyone,” he said. “I have three gigs next week and more after that, so it’s kind of picking up again. But you know, the pay is less than half, quite often. You’re taking a hit because you know these places are taking a hit, so we’re trying to make it work for everyone involved. These places are going through hard times, too.”

(Story continues below video)

Meantime, Isaak keeps getting creative with clay.

“I dabbled with sculpting and stuff, paintings, but this is relatively new, me doing the full-on bodies and all that,” Isaak explained. “It’s actually turned out to be quite a booming little business. I’m back-ordered, and I’m sending them to places like Mississippi and all over Canada, so it’s pretty cool. I’m getting so many calls – four calls today, you know. It’s quite something.”

Look for Isaak’s music and more online at brandonisaak.ca. His gigs this month include Langley’s Smugglers Trail Brew House (on Jan. 14 and 19), Kingfishers bar and grill in Maple Ridge (Jan. 16) and Farm Country Brewing in Langley (Jan. 29).



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

ArtLive music

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

More childcare spaces are opening in Langley. (Black Press Media files)
Langley gets 144 new daycare spaces

Government funding is expanding childcare

Tako van Popta, MP for Langley-Aldergrove. (Tako van Popta/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Langley MP Tako van Popta to hold virtual town hall to discuss firearm legislation

A lot of my constituents have serious concerns about how Bill C-21 will affect them, van Popta says

The Langley School District has issued COVID-19 notifications at three schools. (Langley Schools)
Six Langley schools on COVID exposure list, three added Wednesday

Parents are asked to continue to send their kids to school

A HUB Cycling award will go to local winner Geraldine Jordan of Langley, with her youngest daughter Casandra Jordan. (Elisabeth Jordan/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
HUB Cycling award winner Geraldine Jordan of Langley, with her youngest daughter Casandra Jordan. (Elisabeth Jordan/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Langley cyclist wins award for local advocacy

HUB has honoured Langley’s Geraldine Jordan

Critter Care posted this image of one of the bear cubs that are now waking up from hibernation and will need donations of fish and chicken to eat (Facebook image)
Critter Care appeals for assistance in feeding their bear cubs

Thirteen black bear cubs are all waking up from hibernation with big appetites

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Burnaby Mounties responded to 56 complaints and issued 10 tickets to people flouting COVID-19 restrictions in February. (Patrick Davies/100 Mile Free Press)
COVID denier fined $2,300 for hosting gathering in her home: Burnaby RCMP

The woman told Mounties she does not believe the pandemic is real

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

Most Read