Friday, October 22, 2010

FINALLY!!!! Just Hanging Around - A Simple Tutorial - Part 3

Sorry to be so long in getting back to this but that's the way things happen sometimes.  Everybody is well and getting back to normal.  So let's get back to our gecko!

Just Hanging Around – A Simple Tutorial - PART 3

OK - Let's recap.  We've cut a piece of pvc pipe, made a inner and outer plug from polymer clay and baked.  Then we added brick patches and layered on torn edged stucco.  Finally we smoothed the stucco with our fingers.  We used stamps or other tools to add brick-like texture to the darker adobe brick areas, then used the corner of our texture sheet around the brick patches. Moving out from there, we added texture to the entire stucco surface including top and bottom.  Then we cured in the over for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Now our stucco covered adobe brick covered pencil cup is ready for us to add the whimsical gecko.

Let's start with some tile work.

There are plenty of tutorials on the internet about how to make a kaleidoscope cane so I'm not going to go into that. Make one using your southwestern colors and reduce it to about ¾ inch square. Cut enough slices at about 1/16 inch thick to go around your pencil cup. I put mine on the diagonal and had to slightly stretch a couple of them to make it all meet. (Figure 16)

To make it easier to get the tiles lined up fairly accurately without having to depend on a ruler, I wrap an elastic pony tail holder that fits snuggly around my pencil cup and measure at a few points around to make sure that it is level.  A rubber band would work for this also.

Before I put the "tile" on the stucco wall, I brush on a light coating of Genesis medium or liquid polymer clay. Don't press too hard or you will distort your "tile". Cure for about 10 minutes – just long enough to firm the clay, not to cure it.

Now for our friendly gecko!

I will readily admit that I am NOT a sculptor so I cheat. I looked on the internet and found a clipart picture of a gecko that I thought would look nice on my stucco wall. If you can't find one that you like, email me using the Contact Me information and I'll send this one to you.

Next you'll need to mix a nice southwestern rusty red/orange color – or whatever color you want for your gecko. I mixed some reds, yellows and some scrappy gold metallic in until I was happy with the color. Once it is well conditioned, pinch off a good sized chunk and make a log(Figure 17).

Now for the cheating part…  I use the clipart to determine the shape of my gecko. It looks in this picture like the gecko is actually a good bit larger than the picture but that is just the angle of the camera and the thickness of the body. I have the clay about 3/8 inch thick at this point. I started with the head -- pinched a neck then pulled the head into a point. Next I began pulling, rolling and shaping the "body" until I got it about the right size – pulling any excess clay on down into the tail. Last I pulled the tail out nice a long and checked the curl on the end! (Figure 18).

TIP: One thing I learned the hard way is that the clay likes to pick up the toner from your clipart and redeposit it in places that you won't be happy with – so I would recommend taking a couple of strips of wide packing tape and covering the printed area.

Once you get your gecko's body the way you want it, set it to the side to rest.

Now let's add some feet.                        Roll a snake almost as big as the picture of the leg you are adding. Lay it over the picture and press down until it is no more than about ¼ inch thick. Try to keep the edges rounded. Then use whatever tool works best for you to cut away small areas until you can see the outline of the leg from the clipart. I have a small dental tool that I use for this but you could use a craft knife. I use whatever tools are handy to shape the ins and outs of the legs (Figure 19).

Get the shape as close as you can but just leave a rounded end. We'll refine and add the toes later. Smooth any rough edges and taper the end that adjoins to the body.

Continue until you have all four legs shaped on the plastic covered clipart (20).

Now let's put the body in place. 

First you'll need to decide where you want to place your gecko. I test him in a few places because I don't want his feet running over into one of the brick patches. (This is where I found out about the carbon from the clipart transferring to my baked clay! I was NOT happy!)

Once you are happy with the placement of your gecko, brush on a thin layer of Genesis or liquid polymer clay on the bottom and gently press him into place – just enough to make sure that he stays put while we add the legs (Figure 21).

And add the legs.

Brush a then layer of Genesis or liquid polymer clay on the bottom of each leg and press it into place following the clipart. I usually have to tweak both the body and the legs at this point (Figure 22).

My favorite texture tools:

I have a rubber stamp collection that I've been working on for years! So whenever I start a project, one of the first things I do is check my rubber stamps to see what I have that will work. Here I'm using two to add texture to our gecko and make him more interesting (Figure 23).

Let's add some texture:

I use the big stamp right across the middle of his back, then use the smaller stamp everywhere else. I use the stamp to round the edges where needed and to flatten. I tweak again after this is done if needed – particularly on the legs (Figure 24).

Time for toes!

Use a small piece of pipe or a straw to cut small equal amounts of clay – four for each leg. Roll into a ball. Lightly brush the area around the end of each leg with Genesis or liquid polymer clay. Add four balls spaced around the end of the leg, then use a ball stylus to impress a hole in each one. This will both add texture and adhere the "toe" to the leg (Figure 25).

Add some eyes:

I use black teardrop beads for the eyes. The little bit of twisted wire through the hole in the bead helps to secure it into the clay. I use my ball stylus to punch a shallow hole for the eye placement and press with my finger until just the end of the bead is showing (Figure 26).

Now take a look over your gecko. Does he need tweaking anywhere? Is the texture on his back good and clear? When everything is the way you want it, put it in the oven a bake for 1 hour at the recommended temperature for your clay.

All we have left to do is antique and highlight. We'll do that last step once he's thoroughly cured and cool.  I've got a weekend workshop with Klew (Karen Lewis) this weekend, so it will be next week before I can post the final steps that give Just Hanging Around that "finished" look.  Ya'll have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Change of Plans!

Remember yesterday I said I would go home and finish the pictures for the tutorial?  Didn't happen!  My daughter and her kids were involved in a nasty rear-ender that totaled her van but didn't do any major damage to them, thank you God!  They were all shaken up pretty badly but only my grandson had to be checked out for a sore shoulder before he could play football tonight.  Long story short -- no pictures got taken last night but I promise I'll get them done and posted just as soon as I can!  I know ya'll are all on pins and needles to see how I make the gecko -- particularly those of you who know just how much I don't love to sculpt!!!  Sorry for the delay but life does get in the way from time to time.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Family Reunion was great but it's time to get back to work!

We had the annual gathering of the Speights/Miller side of my family this past weekend and it was a great event in spite of tears shed for three treasured family members we lost this year.  On the flip side of that, we had two young ladies who are expecting and lots of kids running around!  And enough food to feed a small army! 

But now the weekend is over and things are beginning to get back to a semblance of normal.  I should be able to finish taking pictures for the last installment of the Just Hanging Around tutorial tonight and get that posted for you tomorrow or Wednesday. We'll be sculpting the gecko!  In the meantime, I got word that one of my Reel Jewelry lanyards was included in an Artfire treasury called Autumn Revival.  This treasury was created by one on my fellow PCAGOE members, Christi of RiverValleyDesigns.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Just Hanging Around…A simple tutorial – Part 2 – Adding texture

OK, in our last post we created a two-layered plug to change the pvc pipe into a "cup". Then we mixed the brick color and randomly pressed on some patches and thinned out the edges with our fingers. Finally we mixed the stucco color, tore ragged strips, placed them artistically around the brick patches then filled in the top edge, bottom and open areas between patches with the stucco clay.

Today we're going to add texture to the brick patches, then smooth and texture the stucco. So… let's get started.

Changing clay patches to faux brick:

I'm going to show you three different ways to make bricks.

(1) The first way is definitely the easiest and involves just pressing a geometric stamp into the clay. I have had this little stamp in my collection for years so I can't tell you where to get one exactly like it but just look for something with squares and/or rectangles. Don't worry about stamping onto the stucco clay, we'll be texturing that later.

(2) The second way is to use a brick or geometric texture sheet. There are quite a few of them available for purchase. The one I have is made by Makins and is available at Hobby Lobby and Michaels. Note that these are basically two-sided. If you press one side down, you get raised bricks. If you flip it over, the bricks are recessed or indented. You want to use the raised side. Again, don't stress over making indentions in the stucco clay. We'll fix that later.

(3) The third way -- if you don't have a stamp or texture sheet that will work to give the look of brick, here's how you can create bricks. Remember, these are just small little places and you are creating an impression of brickwork. You can use a small knitting needle, a needle tool, even an old credit or gift card. You just want something that will make straight line impressions in your clay. What you will do is just press lines in the clay to create individual bricks.

Now wasn't that easy?

Add texture to your stucco:

Earlier this year our local polymer clay guild offered a workshop with Julie Picarello. One of the really neat things that she gave us was a texture sheet. If I remember correctly she said these texture sheets were made from larger sheets of a material designed to make safety treads on stairs. If you haven't been lucky enough to have taken a class with Julie and added this neat texture sheet to your toolbox, a piece of course grit sandpaper – around 80 – will work.

To add texture to your stucco, start with a corner of your texture sheet [sandpaper] and press right up to the edge of the clay you have around each of the brick patches. Try to get texture but without smooshing the clay too much. Stay on the stucco clay. You don't want this kind of texture in your bricks.

Now move outward from there, smoothing seams as you go. Don't forget to texture the bottom and the upper rim of the pencil cup. Don't worry about getting excess clay inside the pencil cup while you are texturing it. I slightly round both the upper and lower edges of my pencil cups.

Use your craft knife to trim the excess clay off the inside of your pencil cup, then use the smallest amount of pressure with your texture sheet to smooth and roll that inside edge. This serves a dual purpose. Not only does it look neater, it also helps to close any tiny gaps and air-pockets you might have along that raw edge.

Check all your edges. Make sure your texturing has blended the seams and all areas of the pencil cup are textured. Cure for 10 to 15 minutes – just enough to firm up the clay.

Friday, October 1, 2010

It's time to vote for your favorite "Southwestern" challenge piece!

We've been talking this week about the Just Hanging Around Pen Cup that I made for the PCAGOE (Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy) Southwestern challenge.  Now it's your turn to participate.  You can vote by going to the PCAGOE blog and vote for your top three favorites. 

Check out the entries:

In addition to helping choose the winners of this month's challenge, 5 lucky voters will be winners too!  Five lucky public voters, chosen at random, will win a beautiful polymer clay prize created by one of our many talented artists.

Voting begins October 1, 2010 and ends at midnight, Eastern U.S. time on October 7, 2010.

And for those of you following along with the Just Hanging Around tutorial, I'll be back with the next installment on Monday.