I decided I needed a little break from painting, but I’m still feeling the artistic drive. I haven’t made any sculptures for a while, and I hear it calling my name. It’s been at least a year, in fact; the last sculpture I did was a replica of a crested gecko. I posted about it last year (see here). I also did the little furry dragon in the picture here, a little before that.
I was inspired last week while perusing Etsy. I found this dragon sculpture by Kate Sjoberg (Red Wyvern Studio), and I thought, That’s so cool! Nothing like seeing something awesome to get your creative juices flowing. My thoughts branching out from there, I found this dragon here, and this other one here. And for a long time I have thought that the sculptures by Ellen Jewett (Creatures from El) were gorgeous and very inspiring.
I knew I wanted to make a figuring of one of my three-headed chimeras. I also wanted to make something larger than I have before, something that would give me space to render the details I wanted him to have.
So I started doing research. I wanted to use polymer clay–a clay you cure by baking in the oven–but which brand? I have usedIII, and was not impressed at the quality at all. The poor little dragon I sculpted breaks far too easily. My other sculptures are made from Fimo. So I researched clay brands. I researched techniques, how to handle larger sculptures, watched a few videos on Youtube. I researched how to make glassy eyes, and how to support the creature’s wings… I researched for hours.
I also like to come up with a plan, to know what I’m getting into. Especially something this big. This is what I came up with (Note, this is just what I chose to do. Everyone is a little different, since it’s a pretty flexible process):
- Sketch the sculpture. I didn’t do this for my other sculptures, but I can see it would help immensely in the process. Especially for measuring lengths and proportions during stages where the form is ambiguous.
- Build the armature. Make the internal structure with wire, mesh, and tape–such as masking and floral tape, which will be fine at the low temperature the clay bakes at (~265 F). The wire gives strength to the sculpture to keep it from sagging while baking or breaking once done.
- Bulk up the armature. With crinkled aluminum foil (and more tape), build up the internal parts of the sculpture. This keeps the clay thin enough to bake completely, and also saves on clay. After the aluminum foil, bulk up further with SuperSculpey. Bake. (During this stage I will also bake the eyes and horns to be added later, so they don’t mush while I’ll putting them on.)
- Form up the outside. Using Fimo clay, add on another layer of clay to the creature, bulking out the form and proportions. No details yet, just the basic form to work with later. I’ll add the baked eyes and horns here.
- Musculature. With more Fimo, add on the muscles, and sculpt the layers of clay to give definitive shape and form.
- Detail. Here I’ll add the scales, hide texture, lines, etc. The stuff that turns a cartoon creature into a realistic-looking creature. I suspect this may be one of the longer steps. Once done, bake.
- Paint. Then I’ll paint it with acrylic paints, adding more color and detail. Once I’m done, I’ll give it a short bake to set the paint. Yay! All done.
Theoretically. So far, so good, though I chose to do the heads and the body separately. More on that and making the armature next week!