post 2 – in ‘Polymer Clay’
A few years ago I bought pair of vintage earrings from a car boot sale….
I can’t remember how much I paid for them but I have this feeling that it was something like £2.00 or £2.50. I wasn’t buying them to wear, I bought them because they’d charmed me and I’d fallen in love with them. I ‘needed’ to own them so that I could look at them – and for a while they sat on my dressing table where I could see them, and pick them up too, because they’re so amazingly tactile and they feel so lovely in the hand!
A few weeks after I’d bought them I looked at them and had an idea that maybe I could make something a little inspired by them, perhaps a pendant, either on a beaded necklace or hung on a coloured rope type necklace. So I took them to my work desk and, using them as inspiration, I made a unicorn using polymer clay.
All made from white polymer clay. The head, neck and ears were pretty easy to form, – a long(ish) sausage, thicker at one end and tapering off at the other– but I decided to make the neck a lot shorter than the necks of the unicorn earrings, and also the face a little plumper. I wanted to give my Unicorn a shorter nose too, as I wanted him/her to look a little more ‘comely’, sort of a bit more friendly and maybe a tad more magical.
Once the head and neck were formed it was at this point that I had to decide where to put the ‘hole’ for the necklace part. I knew I wanted a hidden hole, so had to work out where the hole would have to be in order for the pendant to hang properly and where I could hide the hole with ‘hair’. I’ll admit at this point that pushing a knitting needle through the head of this incredible magical beast felt SO cruel. Ugh, … I felt like the RSPCA would be knocking on the door any minute and I’d be arrested for cruelty towards a *mythical* creature.
Hole made, … Next came the Unicorn horn. I chose a long, (rectangle shape) freshwater Biwa pearl for this, which I wrapped with a short wire twist, added a little liquid clay to it so it would anchor firmly and then slowly and carefully pushed the horn into the Unicorns head.
Next … the eyes.
I know when you look at the bigger photograph of the Unicorn, the eye kind of looks like it could be complicated. Don’t be fooled, it’s way easier than it looks.
The eye itself is a round, polished gemstone which is set into an eye socket (a sort of ‘crater’) which I made by pushing a sculptor’s ball tool into the clay to make that eye socket. If your a crafter you might well have a ball tool which you use to press into the centre of a punched out flower in order to give it that realistic look. Providing that you’ll never use that tool on any food item, then you can use the tool on polymer clay. But if you’re possibly going to use any item for food making then you MUSN’T use it on polymer clay.
After the socket was formed, I rolled a small, thin sausage of clay and wound it in a circle around the eye, cutting it at just the right point (I find an angle cut works better than a straight cut & it’s easier to ‘hide’ the join or seam) and then closed the seam between the two ends by carefully blending the ends of the clay together. I added a tiny bit of liquid clay into the socket and then took my bead and inserted a little ‘thread’ of wire through it, twisted it around the back and then gave it a little kink so that it would work as an anchor to hold the gem bead in the socket. I then carefully pushed the bead gem into the socket, making sure that the wire went through that tiny bit of liquid clay, so that the liquid would wrap itself around the clay and ‘set’ when the clay went into the oven.
Now it was time to add the mane.
As I made the curls of hair, I applied each one very carefully so that they built up in layers, hiding the hole I’d cruelly made through his/her head for the necklace . I also wanted to add a twist. I wanted it to be more magical than just a mane, so added real gemstone beads, tucking and nestling them into the curls of hair, anchoring each one with a twist of wire threaded through the small holes drilled in the gemstones.
Once I’d built up the mane I gave him/her flared nostrils and then finally I gave the face and neck some texture. I thought about brushing ‘hair’ into the tiny sculpture but dismissed that idea straight away. I knew that it wouldn’t look like the magical creature I saw in my minds eye, so instead I used one of my small ball tools and gently prodded little dips into his body which turned out to be the perfect texture and suited him/her down to the ground. (or to the end of his/her neck at any rate!)
The final thing I did was to add a little Pearl-Ex powders, in various places and various colours, so that the P.Ex picked up on the colours of the gem stones and gave a little ‘glow’ around them and accentuated the deep blue of the eye.
He then went into the oven and, a little while later, a unicorn was born.
An extra bit ….
If I were to make the unicorn again, I’d make the mane of thicker pieces of clay rather than those small curls. Although I love the individual smaller curls, I worry about them catching on something and being broken.
—-> * mythical * creature <—– ~ … … ‘mythical’? – bah humbug! From where I’m sat typing this I can clearly see my Unicorn in my garden. He’s a fabulous chap and doesn’t mind me trimming his tail to make paint brushes. <innocent face>