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

Motorists breaking travel rules can be fined $230 for failing to follow instructions or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order, at this Highway 3 check area near Manning Park. Photo RCMP
RCMP begin stopping drivers on BC highways – check point at Manning Park

Four check points are set up Thursday May 6 around the province

The Aquilini Investment Group has agreed to a proposed contract of five years to run the Abbotsford Centre. (File photo)
Proposal to run Abbotsford Centre offered to Canucks ownership group

Planned five-year contract to cost city $750K annually, starting Jan. 1, 2022

Integrated Homicide Investigation Team Sgt. Frank Jang said outside of Langley Sportsplex at 91a Ave and 200 Street after a man was fatally shot in April 2021. (Black Press Media file)
LETTER: Casual drug users have link to gang killings, says Langley letter writer

The Lower Mainland is in the midst of another gang war and the illicit drug market is part of it

Dr. Bonnie Henry B.C.’s provincial health officer, updates the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
BREAKING: Willoughby added to list of high-transmission COVID zones

Anyone 30 and over in the area can now register for a vaccine

RCMP were called to collision in the area of 200th Street and 44th Avenue on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 around 4:30 p.m. (Anngela Bayer/Special to Langley Advance Times)
PHOTOS: Langley RCMP called to crash after car turns in front of Jeep

The incident happened on Tuesday and resulted in minor injuries

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

Surrey RCMP is investigating after a serious three-vehicle crash at the intersection of King George Boulevard and 128th Street Thursday afternoon (May 6, 2021). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
VIDEO: Serious crash in Surrey sends 1 to hospital

Surrey RCMP say one of the drivers fled on foot, but was later found at an area hospital

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

John Paul Fraser, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. (Screen shot)
Salmon farmers warn Surrey jobs on line as feds end Discovery Islands operations

344 full-time jobs at risk in Surrey and 1,189 B.C.-wide

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

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read