I’ve finished sculpting the teddy bear! “For real?” you ask? “Fo reals!” I says.
If you’ve been following along, you may recall I did a previous post about knowing when your finished. It was really less of a “how to” and more of a brainstorm with help from… you. Two things really sunk in for me after that post: the concept of focusing-in on what specifically I’m not yet happy with in my sculpture, and the relief that I am not alone in my struggle to finish. Before, it seemed like I would step back, look at the piece as a whole and wonder “how do I make this finished?” It was daunting, but merely because of my perspective.
The previous post was about starting this irresponsible teddy bear. I had been curious for some time about incorporating lights in my sculptures, but with the wats, amps, volts, ohms, soldering, shocks and warnings… there are too many things in this venture I know NOTHING about. “Where to start”, I asked myself, and decided that there was a good chance of survival if I start with one LED and one watch battery. As much as I hate to set a bad example, a smoking teddy bear shielding his lighter flame from the wind, was the perfect idea for one LED. What else is there really?
Specifically, I envisioned…
For starters, this is a picture from last week’s post for reference on the new additions. The piece has already been baked so that it hold it’s shape while I added new clay and detail (it just makes further sculpting easier). It is possible to bake polymer clay multiple times. The trick is to add Vaseline to the baked clay before adding new clay so it’ll stick and fuse in the oven when you bake it again.
On average I added about 1/8″ of clay all over except on his elbows, they’re right where they need to be. My attention was planned and focused on specific areas face, paws and legs. The face needed a nose, ears and a thicker brow. I wanted to define his paws better around the lighter he’s holding. Also, the legs needed to be bulked out more in general and I wanted to add wrinkles in his hip where the knee is raised.
By far, the majority of my effort was on the raised leg and hip. It was really the first place I noticed that needed attention. In the images above you can see how stiff it looks… just flat, “blah” and boring. Below, it appears more natural, like his stuffing is all shifted and scrunched because of his raised knee. I used thin strips of clay to slowly build that area up, turning it from side to side, just trying to match the way I imagine a teddy bear’s gut to crease and bulge.
I’m still trying to find my source for the following tip but without any luck. SOMEWHERE I recently heard someone mention “flash-cooling” polymer clay. That is, just as soon as it comes out of the oven, plop it into ice water to cool it off fast. It’s supposed to help the clay harden and in effect make it stronger. I figured it was worth trying; at the very least it wouldn’t hurt anything. I kept the glass in the fridge till I pulled the bear out of the oven. I grabbed the bear by the wires coming out the foot and held it in a glass of water for about a minute.
Compared to other pieces that were left to cool on their own there doesn’t seem to be a notable difference.
I got real lucky with the method I used to fit the battery into the base. What I mean by “lucky” is that not only did my first idea work, my first idea worked on the first try:
I’ve been using poker chips as the bases for most of the little sculptures I’ve created recently. I had received a poker set as a gift and as you can see it is coming in very handy. The base for this piece was made using 3 poker chips sandwiched together. The first red poker chip needed a hold drilled in it to feed both wires through I plan to glue his feet to it after it’s all painted. The watch battery was the exact same thickness as a poker chip, so I drilled a large hole in the next green poker chip big enough to fit the battery into, while also making space on a side for one of the wire to fit through. The third chip is used to sandwich it all together.
As I mentioned, the battery is the same exact thickness as a poker chip; with the positive wire sandwiched on one side of the battery and the negative wire sandwiched on the other side, there were gaps due to the thickness of the wires. To allow the three chips to stack flat against one another I had to carve a niche into the top and bottom poker chips to recess the wires. Bada-bing, bada-boom! If you have any questions, bada-send’em my way.
I’m now in the throws of painting this piece and will post a picture to my portfolio ASAP.