My polymer clay version of Bodewell the Yorkie is sculpted and ready for baking. But first, the base. Did you miss Part 1 – Sculpting the Yorkie?
Beloved Pet sculptures require a base, period!! No matter what you tell them, people will INSIST on handling your sculpture, such is human nature. I cringe every time I see it and can’t imagine what goes on with the ones I don’t see. So… securing the sculpture to a base not only provides a ‘professional’ finished look for the overall sculpture, but it also gives those touchy folks something other than the dog to grasp, thus increasing the longevity of the actual dog sculpture (These things are beyond fragile).
The Faux Wooden Wood-Covered Base
The sculpture base will only serve its purpose of protecting the sculpture, IF AND ONLY IF the sculpture is secure to the base and won’t fall off. Simply securing the sculpture to the clay covered base provides temporary support, until the dog decides to break off taking part of the base with it. To prevent this I placed the sculpture on the base and marked where his body will sit (notice the ‘wet’ spots), then drove a thin nail partway into the base. This nail will be driven into the dog to keep him from shifting. Working WITH the clay covered base, this will keep the dog in place.
Covering the base was a 2 part process. Step 1 required covering the base with a thicker layer of scrap clay. Clay and wood don’t like each other, so I’d rather mess around with a scrap layer to ensure a proper fit. This will give my delicate ‘design’ layer something easier to grab on to. After much smoothing, pleading, begging, and some liquid sculpey (as a ‘glue’) layer one is complete.
Creating a Fancy Wood Texture in Polymer Clay
I like to create a ‘faux wood’ base layer rather than using the ‘boring’ wooden base as is. I decided to go with a reddish wood so as not to compete with the dog’s brownish golden coat.
The best part about this process, is that you can’t really mess up. I chose random amounts of white, dark brown, flesh, and crimson clay ensuring I would have enough to cover the entire base.
The marbling effect comes from the partial mixing of the different clay colors. I rolled each color into a ball, then combined them all into a larger ball. The large ball was rolled into a log, twisted, squished, and rolled again.
I cut into the log every time to see how mixed the colors were. Too little mixing gives the appearance of randomly combined colors, too much mixing will result in a solid brown mush.
Once satisfied with the marbled appearance, I ran the blob through my clay-dedicated pasta machine to form a nice and rectangular sheet.
My Secret To Finishing The Effect
Now for my ‘secret’ (shhh don’t tell). This marbled sheet pictured above still looks too ‘busy’ so I selected my favorite pattern area within the sheet to bring to life. I did this by folding the rest of the sheet under it (like folding a paper in half) keeping the desired half on top and running it through the past machine. Each time I did this, my desired area got stretched over the underlying clay, finally giving me a nice, natural looking, marble color wood looking sheet. If you squint closely you can almost make out the underlying patterns (notice the overall directions of the colored lines)
I positioned the sheet of clay, and went through the gruesome task of securing this to the base. The new clay adhered nicely to the old clay, but alas the old clay kept trying to ‘leave’ the wooden base. I won in the end (or so I thought).
The tricky part of course, were the air bubbles. Trapped air can cause havoc on a completed sculpture. Air expands as the oven temperature increases. Trapped air will ‘pop’ out of the clay much like an overfilled balloon, causing unwelcome cracks where they exit. More on that in part 3