Once upon a time… Modelling and Casting was one of the compulsory subjects at the School of Arts and we spent weekly long hours playing with plaster, water, clay, soap and wooden tools in the basement of an amazing 100-year old building by Felix Navarro. Most of the stuff around was already very cheap. Nevertheless, we were supposed to recycle our pieces after evaluation by diluting the sculptures in water and grinding it with wooden sticks to remove the air bubbles.
But for now let me show you some other sculptures made of the current queen of the doughs, the Lady Gaga at the crafts shop: Polymer Clay! On the one hand this newborn lets you model carefree as if it were play dough or even make it flow like a liquid. It might harden a little when no force is applied but it keeps its malleable features as opposed to dry clay or plaster. You bake it in your own oven at normal temperature and the resultant piece is not even crumbly. Cons? well… it´s TRULY expensive.
Our final exam consisted of a selfie of us with this brand-new viscous, cold, costly dough. We used all tricks to build the inner part of our self portraits with something cheaper – and to make it lighter too!
(I bet I got that A just for the shoes! They are exactly like the ones I was wearing out back to those days and, most importantly, they keep the sculpture up without any help.)
Sure, It´s no masterpiece, yet it remains as my particular Parthenon – If I get blocked modelling I just look at it, remember the thousand techniques I (could have) applied and rack your brains harder to transfer that know-how into the current deed.
Here comes the problem-solving part of the topic: Recycling + Saving Money
Just to give you some ideas: I built the skeleton with thick wire. Anatomy lessons are unnecessary, stick dudes work well enough. Next step: get some aluminium foil and cover it all! The more the better (and cheaper!). Add extra layers where it´s supposed to be thicker such as thighs, head, belly, butt… Ultimately, it is time to grab the dough and take it seriously. Oh, last but not least: Forget about your fingers. They are too round, too grassy, too fat! You don´t want a fingerprinted sculpture, do you? Consider starting to collect all sorts of sticks and pointy tools straight off: ice-cream stick, ice-cream spoons too, drum sticks, needles, chopsticks, pens, brushes, wires…all all all, Gotta catch ´em all! – Affluent enough? then get your own sculpture tools set, don´t be so tight-fisted 😉 and lend it to us.
It will take a long while until you create stunning breath-taking portraits like this Ben Kenobi. In the meantime you can carry out experiments. Take any birthday or occasion to oblige yourself to try something new with clay and spread your amazingness around your loved ones´ homes. Grab your collected tools and try textures, structures, techniques…
Here you are! a taste of my polymer experiments:
Tiny Mushrooms for my sister
beads (more in this old post)
Charms – easiest/best thing ever if you forgot your mum/girlfriend/grandma/etc b-day. Do you like the golden frame´s texture? Press any cotton fabric slightly onto the clay and done!
Here I unravel the image transfer trick. Easy-peasy as in this post.
Tiny Still-Life or model toys for a doll´s house. I especially enjoyed experimenting with tools to get the textures of the powder sugar and the confetti frosting.
Now is your turn! Let me know about your favourite recycled tool for modelling, how would you build the innards of your figurines, the challenges, what kind of paint you use… I´m looking forward to reading your comments on this polymer clay madness! and remember: Have fun!
Thanks for your visit!