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)

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

TEASER PHOTO ONLY
Surrey woman a face of World Ovarian Cancer Day campaign in London, New York

‘It’s so important we find better treatments,’ Catherine Eiswerth says

Surrey-White Rock MLA Trevor Halford and Surrey South MLA Stephanie Cadieux. (Contributed photos)
BC NDP ‘chose to create a system of chaos’ by holding back COVID-19 date: Cadieux

South Surrey MLAs criticize provincial government after BCCDC documents leak

The map shows the number of COVID-19 cases for the week of April 25 to May 1. The darkest areas indicate communities with a daily average of more than 20 cases per 100,000 population. (BC Centre of Disease Control)
Surrey and Abbotsford battle for top COVID hotspot in Fraser Health

Two communities are among areas across province showing highest transmission

A woman walks past a long lineup that snaked through the parking lot at the Cloverdale Rec. Centre April 27 after Fraser Health allowed people age 30 and over from “high-transmission neighbourhoods” to access the AstraZeneca shot. The temporary vaccination centre is located on the Cloverdale Fairgrounds. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Cloverdale now considered a ‘high-transmission area’

Anyone 30 and over can now register for a vaccine

teaser
Top-10 ‘Maxim’ magazine contest model got her start in Surrey

Kajal Kumar hopes to earn $25K cash prize and a cover photo shoot

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland third behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

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

Mandeep Grewal was gunned down outside an Abbotsford bank in October 2018. Police said a violent gang war to control drug-line territory was going on at that time. Drug charges have now been announced against seven people. (FILE PHOTO: John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
7 people face 38 charges related to gang drug activity in Abbotsford and Mission

Police say investigation began in 2018 into expansion of Brothers Keepers’ drug line

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The postponement of the event was put in place to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read