Naming a character that I create is a very personal experience for me. I have had many comments on how unusual the names are that I give some of my creations and thought it is time to jot some of my thoughts down. Please forgive me if this post makes no sense whatsoever. I have no formula for assigning a name and therein lies much of the fun. In my experience, the name is sometimes as critical to the character as the sculpting details.
While I sculpt, I find that there are two distinct scenarios that come in to play. The first is when I know the name from the beginning. There are times when the perfect name comes to me, and I just know that I have to create a character to go with the name. In these cases, the sculpting process is usually a mad dash to the finish line where I have a clear and distinct vision to follow. I already have the character's life framed in my mind, so I already know what he looks like, how he moves, lives, thinks, and breathes. Sculpting is simply a matter of giving all these notions a physical form. It can be frustrating when the form doesn't seem to cooperate with the concept, but for the most part the process is already deeply rooted in my mind and I just have to follow what I already know. ( If that makes any sense)
The second scenario is when I start to sculpt without a clear idea of the character. I will have a general idea of where I want to go with a piece, starting with a shape, pattern, or texture that caught my attention somewhere as I daydreamed, and I use a very loose 'stream of consciousness' style to my sculpting process. I allow my imagination to wander while I sculpt, sometimes wandering far off the initial rough concept into uncharted territory. When this happens, it is almost as if I am being introduced to a stranger. I have to observe the creature and get to know it before a name is given. As the creature develops before my eyes, I discover things I never knew...where does this thing live, what does it like, how does it go about its day to day functions? Normally at some point when I have learned enough through the very act of creating, the perfect name will just pop into my head.
So why all this introspection? Well, it is because I have a piece that is giving me trouble. The sculpting is nearly done and no name has come. I am beginning to panic as I fear I have missed the magic moment. I feel like I know a few things about this new piece. She is quiet. She is slow. She has a very ancient feel to her and most likely would smell of dry dirt. She has an affinity to dry-rotted wood, and very much likes to chew it into a fine paste. She is of the earth. I do not yet know if she is a threat to have around or if she is a blessing...I prefer the latter as I look into her eyes. She has a sadness and calmness about her. She is maternal.
But still no name. So what next? I will most likely study her and think about her for a period of time until the name comes. Then I will finish her painting and offer her up for adoption. I hope whoever purchases her does so because she calls to them in the same deep way as she is being created.