April 20, 2010

Clay people?!?

Yes, Blog, I’ve embarked on my latest crazy creative endeavor. Like I said recently, when I really like something so much it hurts, I have to try it myself just in case I can do it. And awhile back I discovered Nicole West, the most astonishing polymer clay sculptor I’ve yet to see. Here are just a couple of her incredibly gorgeous creations:

Teacup Fairy

Lonely Goldfish Mermaid

I like these so much it hurts, Blog. And I figured, they are so grand, if I could someone make something even one-tenth as nice, it would be pretty decent. I looked on Amazon for the best book on sculpting human figures in polyclay that I could find, and this is what I found:

It’s all the reviews suggested and more. The instructions are so detailed and well-conceived, it’s possible even a total newbie such as myself could succeed. And I am determined, Blog. I am skipping no steps and applying myself 110% to this project. It’s the only way I stand a chance.

So, the first step was to make the tools you need. Quite a challenge in itself. I did quite a bit of shopping to come up with all the items I needed to construct the tools, as you see here below. Some of these things are already supplies or tools, but some were combined in a tricky fashion to make unique tools. And yes, Blog, I even had to go to Home Depot and get a tubing cutter! (That what that blue thing is.)  And another art supplies storage box (heck, they were on sale).

You use your tubing cutter to cut the big knitting needles into chunks. One pointy needle tip is used in a tool, and the rest of the parts are covered with clay to make sturdy handles. I actually figured out how to cut tubing! Awesome. I also got to use the electric drill, to drill holes in that piece of wood. This is as close to woodworking as I get.

Okay, so after a few hours of labor, here’s what I crafted:

A – Platform to hold clay parts (like heads) on wires during work (bolts and washers to add a little weight for stability).
B – Big knitting needle tool, for modeling.
C – Sewing needle tool, with big and small needles, for modeling super tiny detail.
D – Curvy end tool, with big and small curve ends, for modeling curvy shapes.
E – Tapestry needle tool, with big and small needles, for modeling small detail.
F – Eyeball mold.
G – Tray for holding eyeballs on pins for drying after painting.
H – Dish for shaping ovoid head armatures from aluminum foil.

The tools I made are ugly because I used random gooky leftover clay hunks. I now have no random gooky leftover clay hunks left!

I needed to get a lot of other supplies besides these. Like calipers, also from Home Depot, which I will use for accurate measuring of clay so I can get the proportions of my clay people right. I’ll use Tacky Glue, fabric glue AND Super Glue in various ways. I got a nice supply of heavy wire for armatures. And some inexpensive doll hair (the good artists use mohair but that stuff costs a ton). And a fine new set of acrylic paint in tubes (a steal at, of all places, Wal-Mart). And some super tiny new brushes. And of course, a bunch of beige clay, bought over the Web!

My existing clay and jewelry making tools and supplies (like pliers and glaze and pasta machine) will provide the rest of my needs. Along with my sewing machine (for wig and clothes making) and the eyelashes I ordered off eBay.

In other words, Blog, this is quite an undertaking. But I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. This weekend I’ll make some heads and see what happens. I’m planning on relying heavily on beginner’s luck.

My Impossible Clay People Dream? Well, first of all I’d like to make some gorgeous fairy-like female creature for which I can make a terrific tiny costume. And secondly, I’d like to make some really hot male, perhaps in a revealing Roman toga.

But before that, I’ll have to see if I can actually make something that appears vaguely human.

My confidence was slightly boosted this weekend, Blog. On a whim, I decided to submit my stitchpunk doll, Herbert G, to an author (Barbe Saint John) soliciting content for her upcoming book, 1000 Steampunk Inspirations. And he was accepted! Enthusiastically! The book comes out in March 2011 from Quarry Books. This is the first time I’ve felt like a real artist in any way. It blows my mind to be included in a book full of the work of real artisans.


Tomorrow is the big day! Our thrilling 50th post! Blog’s mystery interviewee is the perfect “big name act” for the occasion. Your last hint as to his identity: His age is a subject of debate, but we’re putting it at 27. All will be revealed tomorrow, and BYOB!

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