My polymer clay July Fairy baby finally has a cured (baked) face and is now ready to get a matching body. If you missed the facial sculpting process you can catch it here:
Measuring the Baby in Heads
Figure sculptures and drawings are typically measured in heads. An adult sculpture would measure 6-7 heads tall, and a goblin or troll may measure just 5 heads tall. My fairy baby, at less than 1 year in age, should measure approximately 4 heads long. That comes to 1 head-length for the head itself, and 1.5 head-lengths each for the torso/body area, and legs.
The baby’s head measures approximately 1 inch tall, and so the entire sculpture should be no longer than 4 inches total. The arms should be as long as the legs, at 1.5 inches.
Building the Body Armature
The armature is the internal skeleton of the sculpture. Yes, even fairy sculptures require a strong skeleton for structure and support. I created the fairy’s armature using wire for the frame and aluminum foil for the bulk. The bulky internal skeleton allows me to reduce the total amount of clay used and thus the overall thickness. Thicker layers of clay must be baked for longer periods of time increasing the risk of burning, cracking and more.
I’ve decided to try a new armature style, building a wire frame instead of my previous ‘stick figure’ style armature. My hypothesis is that this style will secure to the wire much stronger than my previous armatures. The more secure the skeleton, the easier it will be to sculpt. In the past I’ve had issues with the foil moving around and distorting my clay.
Alas I am unhappy with this armature for 3 reasons.
- I build the torso to exactly 1.5 inches, and forgot to account for any bulk that will accumulate when I add foil and clay. The extra padding will result in a much longer and distorted baby.
- I forgot to allow for neck room. True a baby doesn’t have ‘that much’ neck, but I left no neck room at all.
- Wires, you can’t live with them, can’t live without em. The wires were getting in my way. Yes they are needed, but they are also difficult to sculpt around.
I’ve decided to pose the baby laying on her side as opposed to her back as originally planned. This will allow for the inclusion of a brilliant set of wings.
Keeping all this in mind I shortened the torso armature to allow for extra padding, and removed the leg and upper arm wires. Since she will be lying down the supports for upper arm and leg are not as important. I will keep the lower arm wire to give her a resting surface.
The torso wire now measures approximately 1 inch in length.
Adding Foil To The Armature
I don’t pre-measure the foil. Not ideal I know, but I have yet to figure out a proper method. Instead I just add crumpled strips of foil until I am happy with the results. I added a block of crumpled foil inside the wire and squeezed till it was secure in place. I then wrapped the wire and foil with more layers to keep the entire thing secure and pad the bulk at the same time.
A few more strips of foil and the armature looks set. I used pliers to squeeze it all together. This will minimize any shifting later on. (I was super-careful near the face so as not to break the ears)
The armature is all set. time to add some clay…