Hello there and firstly may I wish you all a Happy New Year. I hope you had a peaceful Christmas and Santa brought you everything you need.
So here we go with a whole new year of creative adventures and to kick it off , I got to use these beautiful bird templates. They have so much potential and I have loads of ideas flying around my head for future projects.
In this blog I’d like to share my step by step instructions for how I made the templates into Japanese Cranes – with a little bit of artistic licence. I recommend you read through the instructions before starting.
For this project you will need
- Powertex UK MDF Bird Templates
- Powertex Large 2 pin metal base
- Masking tape
- White and Transparent Powertex
- Stone Art
- White paperdecoration
- Black, Red, White and Yellow Ochre Powercolor pigments
- Easy Varnish
- Large 3D balls
- Yellow Bister spray
You will also need 2 deep sided plastic containers, a small container (the foil base from a mince pie works well), cling film, brush and something to stir the clay mixture with ( I use the handle end of an old wooden spoon). Apron, gloves and plastic cover for your work area are also a good idea.
Building the armature
I started by using the foil to build up a more rounded shape on the head, neck and body of the bird templates. Keep checking the shape from all angles and compare the birds side by side to get the proportions right.
I built the wings separately and then taped them into place on the birds however you can build the into the body as you go.
When you are happy with the shapes slide them onto the metal spikes to check that they fit side by side. Make any necessary adjustments.
I attached the larger bird to the spike, at this stage, by securing with masking tape then building the leg shape with foil. Next I covered the whole bird with masking tape,
The smaller bird, I choose to work off the spike so that it would be easier to get around all sides of both birds with the clay. To enable you to attach the bird to the stand later, leave the legs of the smaller bird uncovered but cover the rest of the bird with masking tape. Make sure the hole for the spike does not get covered.
I then painted both birds with a coat of White Powertex.
Adding the clay
In one of the deep plastic containers, I mixed the White Powertex with the Stone Art to create clay (see the ‘how to video’ in my Penguin blog). Mix the clay to a soft dough consistency so that it is easier to apply to the birds. Once mixed wrap in clingfilm to stop it from drying out.
When you’re ready to start the sculpting, warm up your clay by kneading it thoroughly, then start applying to the birds in manageable pieces . I started at the beaks and worked down the neck and bodies. Smooth the clay out with your fingers making sure you thin it out where pieces lay over one another so that there is no bulky areas. Keep some clay for use on the small birds legs later on.
There is no need to put clay over the wings as these will be covered later.
I used approximately 250g of clay on the larger bird and 150g on the smaller bird. Don’t worry as any spare clay can be kept wrapped in clingfilm for a couple of weeks and will still be workable.
Shaping the wings
I then took strips of the white Paperdecoration and dipped it into the white Powertex. Work the Powertex through the paperdec and squeeze out any excess. It should be covered but not dripping.
Lay these strips over the wings working down towards the tail. To get thin wispy feather effects pull the paperdec apart once you have covered it in Powertex.
Next, I placed the small bird onto the base, attached it with masking tape, painted the legs with white powertex then covered with the spare white stoneart clay. I chose not to cover these with foil as they would have been too bulky.
Leave overnight to fully dry.
Mix a 10p amount of Easy varnish with pigment to a single cream consistency. Use this to paint the beak (yellow ochre) head (red), eye and neck (black). Varnish dries very quickly so you will need to remix more as required.
Mix a dry brush blend of easy varnish and black pigment to make a thick paste. (see video below) Wipe off excess colour then use this to dry brush the wings. Make up a similar paste with black and a touch of white (grey), again wipe off the excess and use this mix to dry brush the legs.
Finally, I added some large 3d balls to a small container, sprayed generously with yellow bister then added enough transparent powertex to make the balls clump. I placed this onto the metal base and patted down. I repeated this until I had a nice covering on the base. I then dripped the remaining mixture into any gaps to help bond the balls. Leave overnight to dry
I hope you have enjoyed this project as much as I did.
I will be running full day workshops at my studio in Leamington Spa, on the following dates if you would like to join me to create a crane.
- Tuesday 29th January 2019
- Wednesday 13th February 2019
- Sunday 3rd March
For further details, please see the workshop section on my website www.annettesmyth.co.uk .
Until next time, Happy Creative Adventures