Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Polymer Clay Adventures- The Jesse, Part 1

A representation of my wonderful nephew Jesse, (remember it is my first time.)
Been a while... since posting anything about my latest creative endeavours so let me share a bit about where I am at, creatively speaking that is...
At the end of December 2014, I finally received an inexpensive package of Polymer Clay. After hanging out with my young friend Luke S. who has been creating polymer clay critters for years now, I finally decided I wanted to see if I could work the rather stiff clay. As a part of my disability, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, I have not the most strongest of muscles, all over that is. Arms and hands included. However, thanks to God, in spite of no longer being able to use my other limbs and such, I have always been able to use my hands. I can use them even though I can't lift my arms or move them away from the central area of my body (my core muscles).
Well, thanks to the inspiration young Master Luke provided, I thought why not try. Able to find sample packs of this polymer clay on ebay.ca, I was able to test it out. Needless to say, was I excited to discover, that I could manipulate the clay and create objects. At first it feels like  a stiff cold plastercine. You know what Wallace and Grommet are created with, using the Claymation process. However, the more I held it in my hands, the more it warmed up and became more easily pliable and workable. The rest is history...

What is Polymer clay?
Polymer clay, contains polymers, or a plastic formula, that requires curing or hardening it by essentially "firing" it, in a low temperature oven. The clay I use, requires the temperature to be 275
Fahrenheit, 30 minutes for each quarter inch of thickness. Definitely read the package directions. The baking process is critical to cook out, or set the polymers, in order for creations to become sold, firm and ready to use in other crafts or ready to look at and enjoy, like my first ever human figurine. That is what we are sharing today.
Since I have spent most of my life creating handmade cards for special occasions, I consider this clay figurine, a three dimensional special occasion, "card" or greeting. Wanting to document the stages of creating the first time, ever life like, (supposed to be life like that is) figure of a young man I love deeply, my nephew Jesse... I will show you how what started out as, not so great looking to - whoa, not so bad. If it isn't clear from the image, my nephew graduates university this year, and isn't big into attending ceremonies like that. Too bad, say I.
It can still be special. I assumed the best way to get the message across would be to include a graduation hat in the composition some where, along with a graduating field mouse, added for fun. So lets take a look at the stages of...Eeekk! what is that?... to what we see above. I must tell you, I was pleased with the final results, I learned a lot along the process and will apply what I learned, if there is ever another time. As a bonus, you might get a few pointers along the way.
Armature, Ready, Begin...
After the armature was created using tin foil and wire, wrapped and shaped into the basic head, with a torso, arms and legs. The polymer clay needs a skeletal system, kust like we do. Too bad wire and tinfoil wouldn't work in us! Well, there was a time when I had a 10 inch stainless steel rod holding up my spine...but I digress.
Sorry I didn't take the photos of the armature, but I think you gat the concept. Then I wrapped the conditioned scrap clay onto the form.
it paid to draw out the completed idea prior to starting the project. Once the basic first layer of clay, was on, I baked it for a bit,  to harden the surface so it would be easier to focus on the forming of his head and face,
The genesis of Poly Jesse. Copyright Anita Berglund May 2015 
To begin the building up of the figurine process, I mixed up some flesh tone coloured clay, using white, a bit of a red, a yellow and touches of greens, just until you get the flesh tone you are going for.

Colour selection and mixing Tips:
Note to anyone trying what I did, I strongly recommend to you and me, make sure you mix more than you think you will need. When you  mix custom colours like a flesh tone, it is tough to remix that identical hue again. Trust me on this, I used up every last spec of it and could have used some more. But, it worked out.
Also, I have learned that poly clay can darken a wee bit once baked. Keep that in mind when colour mixing and the selection of overall colours.
Face Off!
The total height of the finished figurine is about 7 inches. That means, the face and head are but a fraction of the entire piece. It may be a fraction of the overall size, but the face, my handsome nephew's face, was the most difficult part of the entire project. Remember, this was my first time ever building/sculpting a realistic figurine. Well, it was intended to be realistic. The face alone, took me about three solid days of work. As you will notice in the photos below, his face changes a lot. He went from looking like an extra terrestrial, to and old bald man with a large nose, to History's Ceasar and then finally, some resemblance of the Jesse we know and love. The eyes, were literally gouged out at least seven or eight different times. Just when I thought they were perfect...they weren't. Check out some of the stages. I don't have every transformation, but you'll get the idea.
"Face" 1- Copyright Anita Berglund May 2015
"Face" 2- Copyright Anita Berglund May 2015 
"Face" 3- Extra Terrestrial?  Copyright Anita Berglund May 2015
"Face" 4- Copyright Anita Berglund May 2015 
"Face" 5 is it Jean Luc Picard?- Copyright Anita Berglund May 2015
"Face" 6- Mr. Burnz?  Copyright Anita Berglund May 2015 

"Face" 7- Copyright Anita Berglund May 2015

It was at this stage of development, when I was beaming with pride because I thought, even though 
Jesse's face was far from resembling him at all,  just having a smooth face with features and part of a scalp with ears, wow, what an achievement. Well,  God has great ways of humbling us, especially me. Excited that my dear Dad popped by, I assumed he would see what I saw. Well, not quite...upon seeing the result of about three days work at this point, he grinned as he remarked  about about having my "model," available - glancing toward my beloved husband, Craig. You decide...My Husband (he's the human below on the right) ...

Then this picture of my beloved husband. He's the one in the background of course!
.. Part 2 to be continued.