I tried my best to rid the base of any and all air bubbles. Air molecules expand when heated, and if trapped under raw clay they will expand with so much force that they can actually cause cracks in the polymer clay.
I added a bit of liquid polymer clay to the eyes and nose for a ‘wet’ glossy look
After baking the sculpture I left it in the oven overnight to ensure a slow and even cooling. Warm clay is very fragile and can break if touched. Allowing the sculpture to cool in the oven ensures a slow and even drop in temperature which also helps prevent cracking.
Alas, and to my great horror, I noticed two cracks in my faux-wooden base. Being an OCD perfectionist, I was ready to start crying. But since this guy has already taken too many hours to complete, giving up at this point was not an option.
Painting The Sculpture
Perhaps I should have walked away and left the painting for another time. Being ‘upset’ with a sculpture is a bad time to experiment a new method, and experiment I did, still ‘mad’ at the cracks.
I painted the sculpture using acrylic paint and water. I started with the legs. I mixed brown and gold paint with water to get a runny solution. Painting textured ‘fur’ with a watered down acrylic paint is a technique I picked up from Katherine Dewey’s book on Creating Life-Like Animals. (<- grab your copy through my referral link)
If you have a furry pet, look closely and you’ll notice that top layer of fur is a darker color, and there appears to be a lighter color closer to the skin, perhaps gray, white, or blond depending on the animal.
This is accomplished by painting the sculptured critter with a watery layer of paint that gets in between the needle strokes, yet still allows the top-layer of fur to show through. The top layer is then painted with a partially dried out paintbrush so that the paint catches just the furry hairs, but not the layer closer to the skin.
This worked nicely, except that I had gone too dark with the paint and didn’t notice till much later. I applied the same method to the hind legs and back using black paint diluted with some white and light gray.
Painting the Face
I started painting the face using the color mixtures above, but did not recognize the dog before me, this is when I realized my paint colors were too dark.
Tantrum Time! A few hugs later (my BF is the best) I was ready to salvage the dog. I prepared a ‘white wash’ something I should have used at the very start but… the cracks distracted me. This consists of a drop of white paint in water, applied to the textured areas; to give the fur a true base-layer/shadow effect. The runny paint seeps into every little crevice, adding the faintest hint of white, without concealing the underlying clay color.
I then diluted my gold and dark mixture, and attempted to copy the general color patterns on Bodewell’s complex face. All the while I kept reminding myself, “this is an experiment, it doesn’t have to be perfect”
My BF had another view of the matter “You can always make her another one next year”
Perhaps I will…
Overall, I like how the face turned out, I am not pleased with the darkness of the legs. But I knew that Bodewell’s mommy wouldn’t complain. This is only my first attempt at a ‘painted portrait’ sculpture and so there will be many more to come.
Christmas Day (the day the sculpture was presented) I was surprised and honored with the presence of bodewell himself. I presented him with the sculpture, but he was more interested in our lunch. His parents were very pleased though, so all in all not bad 🙂