[quote_right] Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment. [/quote_right] I’ve finished my turtle pocket-watch! Unfortunately, I’m going to have to try a different way of hinging polymer clay in the future, but on the bright side I really like how the paintwork came out. I really wanted to achieve a realistic turtle shell texture so I did some research first. I found some interesting tutorials, some crappy tutorials and some partial tutorials that I’d have to pay for to get the complete version. That information got all blended up in the ol’ meat-filter between my ears and I made it my own. I’ll explain so you can blend it through your meat-filter.
Whereas I might have used a dark pastel powder, I began by using a technique I saw performed by Drew the Artist (a friend and old boss for whom I’ve stretched canvases) on a few occasions before. With both a dark brown and very light tan acrylic paint, I mixed the colors on the fly and created a unique dark-to-light transition on each individual scute of carapace. The top shell of a turtle is called the carapace, and what looks like individual plates of that shell are called scutes (they’re actually big tough scales growing on the skin over the turtle’s ribs).
I felt that the unique color transition for each scute gave it the most natural look (but took SO long). After the paint dried, I dusted the whole piece with a dark brown pastel-powder mostly because I wanted the whole shell darker and minimally to cover my mistakes (but we won’t talk about that).
After getting the overall tone to my liking, I then painted the whole shell with a clear acrylic gloss. This seals in the paint and powder and allows me to continue adding more detail without picking up the powder on my paintbrush and muddying the whole piece. Once the clear acrylic dried, I spattered it with a few light flicks of black paint. Spattering paint in a controlled manner can be done simply by using an old toothbrush dipped in paint and pulling your thumb across the bristles so the paint flicks onto the surface of whatever you’re painting. In the following video found at Artfaux.com, Arthur here uses a homemade tool consisting of a small round brush, wine cork and a “bar” that I think could be just a sewing needle (feel free to fast forward to 1:12 where he whips out his tool).
Similarly to this fella, right after spattering the paint, I brushed it “oh, so gently” with a very soft bristled brush. Very VERY gently is the key so it creates a… I don’t even know what to call it, a “turtle shell look”. After giving it some time to dry (30 min will do) I repeated the last step of spattering black followed by lightly brushing. I sealed it with one last coat of clear acrylic and gave it 4+ hours to competely dry before attempting the opposite side.
To the right, you can see the image I was working from while painting the bottom side of the shell, also called the plastron. Rather than create a 2-tone transition on each scute, I tried to mimic the design shown here. Starting with the same dark brown used on the carapace (top shell), I painted the lines with a very thinly bristled brush… besides heavily watering down the brown paint, there was not much more to it than that. I didn’t darken the bottom side at all with chalk pastel powder as I had done with the top. Instead, because a turtle’s plastron tends to be much lighter-colored than the carapace, I went straight to lightly speckling it with black paint. Once dried, I applied a coat of acrylic gloss. I made sure to move the hinge a little while the clear coat dried to be sure it didn’t dry shut permanently.
After painting the inside of both halves of the shell with a flat dark-brown I continued making sure the paint didn’t glue the hinge shut. All went well without a hitch, but my final method for hinging the two halves was just not strong enough. After only a small amount of trial opening and closing the hinge worked it’s way through the thin hardened clay. Thanks to Skygrazer sharing a hinged piece from another polymer clay artist, I definitely have a solid plan for the next time around.