11 January 2011
As part of my meanderings down Memory Lane to look at creature commissions I've made, I want to share with you the making of Wee Dinosaur.
A lovely lady called Jane contacted me back in September 2010 asking if I'd be able to make a wee dinosaur for her boyfriend's birthday. Now, I hadn't made one before, but you know me well enough by now to know that I love trying out new designs, so I was delighted to accept the commission.
When I first started, I had an idea of what he would look like - Jane was happy to leave it up to me which particular dinosaur to make, and although there might have been easier ones to make, it seemed that a Wee T-Rex wanted to be made.
I started off with the head. I made the top half first of all, and shaped it carefully so that the eyes and nostrils were in the right place. I added half circles of clay to the eyes to give him that sweet, dopey expression! I made the lower jaw separately, and then added teeth using small amounts of off-white clay. I made sure that the teeth in both jaws fitted around each other, and then I joined the lower jaw to the head using a length of wire and liquid polymer clay.
I next made the body next using a single piece of dark green clay with a pale green panel along the belly, which I marked with lines made by the blunt side of a tissue blade. I then attached the head with a length of thick wire to create a stronger join. The hind legs came next, which have a length of wire running through them, bent at the top to join the legs to the body. I did the same with the two stubby front legs.
It took a bit of trial and error to get the back legs in the right position so that he could stand up safely, counterbalancing the weight of the head against the weight of the body and tail. I think he looks as though he's sitting back on his tail, which adds to his overall laid-back quality!
The finishing touches were the claws and the spikes down his back. For his spikes, I mixed up a dark green and then cut out a number of triangles of decreasing size, and I fixed these to his back using liquid polymer clay (what would I do without it?!) Once he was baked, a coat of satin varnish gave him a nice finish.
He's one of my larger creatures, standing about 6cm tall and 9cm long. Using wire armature is a super way of strengthening a piece, particularly at the joints where the piece is most vulnerable. I use different gauges of jewellery wire, depending on the piece - it means I get to use up materials I bought ages ago but never got round to using! Nothing is ever wasted in a crafter's house...
One thing I'm really enjoying is doing more sculptural designs. It's possible to maintain the simple design but marry it up with some structural engineering which really helps bring them even more to life! And one thing I'm learning about myself is that whatever creature I make, it always seems to come out looking cute :)