It’s not about winning because I’m competing with amazing pro sculptors. Instead it’s about thinking outside the box and coming up with new ideas.
Challenge Theme: Frosty Winter Story through My Clay Fantasy team.
Of course I thought about snow, but WHAT about the snow?
Fairy? Not confident I could pull it off.
Cold creatures like polar bears? Maybe…
And then it struck me.
Birds in the Snow.
I love birds. They’re quire magical and their interactions certainly tell a story.
Tools and supplies to follow along:
You can pick these up at your local craft store, or purchase using my amazon affiliate links below. (If you go through my links I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you)
- Small Glass Bottle
- Thin wire for armature
- Pliers to work the wire
- Premo Sculpey or other polymer clay
- Liquid Sculpey
- White ‘snow’ glitter
- Small sculpting tools (here’s how I made mine)
The obvious challenge with this project is sculpting on such a tiny scale. But I love micro sculpting.
The second and actual challenge is getting everything into the bottle. Not only is the bottle so tiny and hard to work in, but the bottle neck has a much smaller opening making it difficult to get the clay inside.
But I didn’t let it deter me
Sculpting the Micro Miniature Birdhouse
Polymer clay requires support, no matter how tiny. I created a tiny wire armature with a loop at the bottom to rest flush in the bottle, and another loop halfway up to support the birdhouse.
I wrapped the armature with thinner craft wire to give the clay something to ‘bite’. I’ve found this technique helps prevent the clay from twisting and sliding on the smooth wire.
Click on the image for a more detailed and magnified view.
The log pattern was created following the same technique used in my Blue Wood Fairy Door but with a mix of black and brown clay.
Once patterned I cut tiny little logs and attached them to the 4 sides of the birdhouse.
The shingled roof started with a small square of light brown clay covered with tiny ‘squished’ square shingles. I cut the clay into squares and then used my finger to smooth and slightly round the edges.
I added the log pattern to the wooden ‘pole’ supporting the birdhouse.
Sculpting Inside A Tiny Glass Bottle
Frustrating would be the best term to describe this phase.
I nearly gave up a few times.
If I sculpt another bottle scene again I will have to rethink my approach.
I added a ‘grass’ base to the bottom of the bottle so that the birdhouse base has something to grab and remain secure.
But the grass refused to stick to the bottle.
I finally got the green clay to stop moving by adding a drop of liquid sculpey and working it in. The liquid sculpey made the glass more ‘sticky’ and finally gave the green clay something to adhere to.
Unfortunately the birdhouse was too wide and the shingled roof wouldn’t fit into the bottle. Using my fingers I squished the sides together till it was narrow enough to get in.
Using my pliers I held the top wire and pushed the birdhouse armature into place.
But once again I had trouble getting the green clay to stick. And I needed this second layer to hide the bottom wire loop.
I created a flexible ‘tool’ out of wire with a loop at the end for pushing on the green clay. This allowed me to work around the birdhouse inside the tiny bottle.
Unfortunately I hit the bird house twice and distorted a few shingles.
Next time I’ll bake the pieces before inserting them into the bottle.
A Snow Covered Disaster
To create a thick semi-liquid snow I mixed white clay with liquid clay in a tiny glass jar.
AND THEN I MISSED
I aimed the snow over the side of the birdhouse to land on the ground. However, my liquid concoction glooped together and hit the front of the birdhouse AND glass bottle at the same time.
I was so frustrated, I seriously considered calling it quits…
So I walked away!
Sometimes the best thing you can do to improve a sculpture or piece of art is to walk away. Clear your mind, do something else, then come back.
Cleaning the Snow
I scraped off most of the snow using my new wire tool. I used the loop to push the snow down onto the grass.
I then did my best to clean the sides of the bottle with a small paintbrush dipped into rubbing alcohol.
Half an hour later and the project lives on
Sculpting Micro Miniature Cardinals
Cardinals are such beautiful creatures.
I often see bursts of red accompanied by loud chatter when working in the garden. And when they take flight can’t help but to stop and watch.
My biggest problem when sculpting on such a tiny scale is to NOT get carried away. I was really tempted to try perfecting every color mix and detail but knew (from experience) that it would take HOURS!
The trick with these tiny creatures is not to squish them in the process.
The Female Cardinal
Female cardinals are less vibrant in color, ranging from tan to brown.
I shaped the birds body on my fingertip – complete with feathered crest at the top of her head. This process warmed the clay enough to make it stick. Using my sewing needle tool I shaped and added features one by one.
Starting with the tail,
followed by wings,
and finally facial features.
I debated baking her before adding to the scene but was afraid she’d burn in the oven.
Then I was afraid I’d lose her on my messy worktable.
I compromised by using a toothpick to gently place her on the snow covered ground inside the bottle.
The Red Male Cardinal
I sculpted the red cardinal in the same manner starting with a red body and brownish red wings and tail.
I placed him on the top of the snow-covered birdhouse.
I threw in some glitter to make the snow sparkle.
Then tried to get detail pictures for over half an hour.
Overall, this was one of my more frustrating projects but I really do like the little details. Perhaps next time I’ll sculpt a micro miniature scene to fit a glass BOX with a full side opening to prevent some of these mishaps.
But did I mention that I love the tiny birds? They are THE SMALLEST SCULPTURES I’ve done to date.