Entries in polymer clay (7)


Dragon Bust

This winter, I had an urge to go back and sculpt another dragon bust (my last one was back in 2005, you can find it in the gallery here). Here is the end result! I do have lots of WIP photos that I will compile and put in a separate entry, but for now here is the finished piece. It is polymer clay and epoxy clay over a wire and foil armature, on a wooden base, painted in acrylic. It is 11.5 inches tall. The eyes are glass cabochons that I also painted. Thanks for looking!



Cernunnos Unearthed

Do you remember my Cernunnos sculpture? I do. It's been sitting in my studio mocking me for a long time. I started it so long ago. 2010 I think? I could probably look back through this journal to find his origins, but that'd be depressing. Today I cleaned all the half-painted Christmas ornaments off my desk and dug him out again. I sculpted all the fur on his neck/head. I know it looks odd two-toned, just try to imagine him painted. I do the initial sculpture in polymer clay because I need the working time it affords me. Then when I feel like the difficult part is done (usually the face/eyes) I bake it and position it on the body armature. At that point it's no longer suitable for baking (either the armature has components that shouldn't be baked, or it simply doesn't fit in the oven any longer) so I sculpt everything else with epoxy clay, which has a limited working time. So the brown is polymer clay and the grey is epoxy clay. Anyhow, I think he just needs his left hand finished and then I could move onto painting and clothing him. Cross your fingers for me, maybe I'll be able to maintain the momentum to get him done!


Cernunnos: Feet and Antlers

Cernunnos' feet are mostly done. I need to sand them here and there and maybe use the dremel to bring back some definition in the achilles tendon. I bulked it out a little too much there and now I think it looks too round above the heel. But that's the nice thing about the clays I use, you can always attack them with a dremel bit to carve down areas if needed. I want his feet to look rough, like he spends most of his time barefoot, but I hope to accomplish that more with the paint than with the clay. Wish me luck.

Then I started on the antlers. Cernunnos is supposed to have seven-tined antlers, so I looked at lots of photos of stag antlers and got an idea of what I wanted to do. I cut several armature wires and shoved them down into the holes I had left in the polymer clay head. The center of the head is packed foil, so the armature wires puncture it easily and stick a little bit. I squirted a bunch of glue down into the head as well and then had to let it dry before shaping the wire. Brian laughed because it made Cernunnos look like he had antennae, so of course I had to take a photo.

Once the glue was dry, I filled the rest of the gaps in the head with epoxy clay, let THAT cure, and then I was able to shape the wire into my basic antler armature. I've since also added some epoxy clay to the places on the antlers where the wires overlap, to help lock them in place before I sculpt the antlers fully. I love working in epoxy clay, but the way I use it does involve quite a bit of waiting for cure time.


Flying Spaghetti Monster Ornament

The mold for the snowman ornament turned out well, I just tried pouring the first cast of it today. Moving right along, up next is the flying spaghetti monster! I gave him a santa hat and tried to make his spaghetti look like the curls of Santa's beard. Now I have to make the mold for this one, and then we'll see how a cast looks painted. Right now all the parts of him seem to blur together, to my eyes. But once I've got one painted it should look better. I hope.



Also known as The Sculpture That Wouldn't Die! I cleaned up the studio last week and sat down to try and get back to a larger project. Cernunnos has been waiting patiently all year, so I worked on him a bit. He's a perfect example of how my sculptures sometimes don't go exactly as planned.

Normally I will make the base separate from the figure so that they can be packed separately for moving/shipping. The whole sculpture started with Cernunnos' stag head, and the size of the head determines the scale for the rest of the figure. He's turning out to be a fairly large figure, but I made the same sort of armature for him as I do for my smaller figures. Bad idea. Once I attached the head to the wire body armature and sat him on the tree base, the weight of the head bent the armature right down the middle. He looked like he was trying to do yoga. My solution was to reinforce the spine of the armature with some epoxy clay and attach it permanently to the tree trunk he'd be sitting on. Oh, and I had already started wrapping the armature in wool strips to preapre it for needle felting the body, so in some place the epoxy clay is slapped over the top of the wool. This is what happens when I work on projects in fits and starts. I lose sight of the whole plan and have to improvise as I go. Anyway, the body is now quite strong and firmly perched on the tree. The legs and arms are not set in any pose yet, and the head still needs more sculpting (antlers, ears, etc.) but the basic form is there. It looks  little ridiculous with the plaid wool strips and the random lumps of clay, but here he is right now:

The color change on the tree bark from brown/pink to gray is because I switched from polymer clay to epoxy clay. Once the figure was attached to the tree, I couldn't put it in the oven anymore to bake polymer clay. Epoxy clay is a room temperature cure and you can make a seamless transition with it so that's why I am using it for the rest of the tree. Once it's painted, you won't be able to tell the two areas apart. Oh, and I will have to sculpt the rest of the head, the hands, and the feet along with the rest of the tree, AND paint them all before I make the soft body and cover it with clothes. Otherwise I will splatter paint all over his garments. This whole sculpture is turning into a logistical nightmare! But I will finish it. Promise.

As a side note, here's how I made that tree bark texture. I used silicon mold making putty and an old manzanita branch to make bark molds. The maznanita branch is one Brian picked up years ago somewhere in California. The actual bark fell off the manzanita long ago, and the wood dried and developed fine cracks in it. They were the perfect scale to make into molds to mimic larger tree bark cracks. Mix up the putty, press bits of it onto the manzanita branch, let it cure and voila! Instant tree bark molds. I pressed them all over the polymer clay surface and then tooled the clay a bit to join up the different mold impressions into a believable whole. It worked great and saved me hours of direct-sculpting miniature bark.



Santa Cthulhu Ornament

I've had so many requests for Christmas Cthulhu items this year that I'm having a hard time keeping up! But here's a new one that I've made. I sculpted the original in polymer clay, made a latex mold with an epoxy clay backup mold, and then used polymer clay again to make a few push-casts. Each one is hand-painted, and I'm selling them on Etsy for a very reasonable price. Happy holidays!


Smellybug's Maquette Tutorial

I just ran across an old bookmark of mine to a tutorial that was posted several years ago on ConceptArt.org. I still think it's one of the best sculpting tutorials I've seen in a while, I learned so much from it. Just seeing progress photos of this artist's work teaches me a lot. I guess that's why I post my own progress photos, in the hopes that someone else will pick up a good idea now and then.

Anyway, if you want to see how Smellybug takes this concept image:

And turns it into this polymer clay sculpture:

You must definitely go read the whole thread!