Sunday, January 17, 2016

Polymer Clay "Wood"

My eleven year old art student has been asking me to let him model with polymer clay so a few weeks ago, he looked through my polymer clay how-to books and picked out a couple projects.

"Wood" polymer clay masks were one of the projects he picked.  I told him I would experiment with making wood and we would try making a mask.

I found directions, each set different, in four how-to books.  Most of them called for using four wood-like colors but one book called for three.  Since this was a my first attempt I decided to use three colors.  One of the other books suggested using metallic colors mixed with the wood colors to give the wood a sheen.  I used that idea, too.

I used scraps of clay from other projects so I can't give you the amounts by the usual method of one block or one quarter block.  I used circle cutters from my box of cutters which I bought on-line.  I chose a large, a mid-size, and a small size because several of the books suggested using different amounts of the various colors.

It took a while to mix three appropriate colors.  Below is the first combination I chose.  I decided the colors were too contrasting and remade colors choosing colors that were a little closer in value (but still contrasting)  I also decided to mix the colors more thoroughly.

Below is the second set of colors I used. Later I premixed enough of similar colors so my art student and I could each make a wood cane.  His class is one and a half hours long, not long enough for him to mix his clays and also make a mask.

All of the sheets were rolled through the pasta maker at the second thickest setting. The largest circle was cut from the mid-value brown, the smallest circle was cut from the deepest value brown and the mid-size circle was cut from the lightest brown.  Approximate sizes of cutters in the photo.

Next I rolled each circle into a ball, and flattened them with a clay roller so I could put them through the pasta maker again.  I rolled the mid-value color first on the second thickest setting.  In order for the lightest brown to be a large enough sheet to cover the first one, I had to roll it through on the fourth thickest setting.  The dark value had to be rolled even thinner.  I stretched the second and third sheets gently to make them the size of the bottom layer.  Now I had the the various thicknesses several of the how-to books suggested.

Next came stacking.  

Cut stack in half.  Lay one on top of the other.  Do NOT lay the dark against the dark. 

 Cut again.  Note the tiny lines where I released the air trapped under the dark layer.

Stack again.  Cut on the green line for yet another stacking.

Note that the stacks are not precise.  This didn't seem to be necessary.  It is necessary to remember NOT to lay dark against dark or mid-color against mid-color.

Form the stack into a rectangular box.

Bend the box.

Bent box.

Form the clay into a rectangular box and bend again.

Repeat until you like the "wood" rectangle you have made.  It took me three times bending and reforming into a rectangular box to get what I liked.

 Final rectangular box.

Sliced box.

Slices laid so the inside cuts are visible.  These are always surprises.

I laid one slice sliced edge up and rolled it thin enough to go through the pasta maker. ( This slice was from a later rectangular box.)

After being rolled through the pasta maker.

Cut an oval that will use about half of the sheet.  The oval will become the mask.  The rest of the sheet can be used for the nose, ears and other additions to the mask.

A drinking straw can be used to cut out the eyes.  The ring in the nose is a jump ring which can be bought in a jewelry craft section of craft stores.

Cut a heart in half lengthwise to make ears.

Lay the finished mask on a sheet of clay rolled at the second thickest setting on the pasta maker.  The first time I didn't do this and the ears fell off.  The backing sheet also adds color to the eyes. Cut carefully around the mask with an Exacto Knife.  It is easier to cut off sections rather than cut around the whole mask in one cut.

Bake at 275 degrees for 25 minutes.
I baked the mask on a curved metal bowl but it could be baked flat.  Fortunately, I remembered to cut a hole at the top with a straw so I could hang the head on a keyring after it was baked.  The hole could be drilled out afterward, also.

Below is the mask my art student made.

Here is another mask, this time with two holes cut into it so it can be hung on a necklace.

1 comment:

  1. That was a cool project to do, I bet he liked the result! :)