Mastiff Puppy with Creative Paperclay®
By Sandra Strait
By Sandra Strait
I wasn’t sure I could pull this project off.
My husband and I once had the honor to belong to two mastiffs, Liam and Cedric. They're both gone now and for Christmas, I wanted to do a statue of one of them, based on a photograph taken when they were puppies.
That photograph posed a few problems.
The boys were very difficult to photo, because their faces were so dark. I couldn’t see their backs, and didn’t have any other photos of them in this particular pose. And the perspective in my chosen photo was odd. It was taken looking down as they looked up.
But it’s my husband’s favorite photo, so I decided to give this a try, and just accept that proportions would be wonky.
One 3-inch Styrofoam balls
Three 2-inch Styrofoam balls
Five 1-inch Styrofoam balls
A tool that will dig a narrow line into the clay
Slip (Creative Paperclay® kept in water so it’s like a paste-about half a finger length’s worth)
Acrylic paint & brushes
A reference photo
Obviously, anyone using this tutorial will be using their own dog, so you may need to adjust the number of Styrofoam balls. The number will differ according to bone structure and pose of your dog. Don’t hesitate to cut or shave the Styrofoam to get a better shape.
In essence, my steps boil down to this:
The general body shape and bone structure is built with the Styrofoam balls.
I flesh in the body mass with the tape.
Surface texture and detail is added with the Creative Paperclay®.
My puppies were built like baby tanks with a bone structure meant to explode into massive size, so I wanted knobby knees, and a rudder-like chest. I loosely taped the Styrofoam balls together and un-taped them, trying different combinations. Several of the balls needed to be cut in half or shaved down a bit to get the proportions I thought were correct.
Using glue on each ball, I started taping more securely, and kept going until I had the body fleshed in. Once I’d wrapped down the Styrofoam securely, I used short strips of tape that wouldn’t bunch up too much as I curved them into the shape I wanted.
Just before I added the first layer of Creative Paperclay®, I slathered the puppy in white glue and slathered the layer on thinly for a base.
During this part of the process, I kept the container of slip nearby, with lots of water to wet my hands. I kept both my hands and the Creative Paperclay® wet, the whole time.
I worked the large surfaces first, that didn’t require much detail, until I was satisfied with the proportions. Then I the molded ridges where the puppy’s hair pushed up.
Once the toes were added, I started working on the face—the make or break part of this piece.
I used the clay tool to carve out eye sockets and nostrils, then alternately layered strips of clay, and carved out wrinkles and the dewflaps of the muzzle.
I’m wasn't happy with the eyes, but decided to move on. I didn’t want to fixate on any one area. It's important to keep the whole piece in perspective.
The ears are the last thing I added. They are sturdy enough once the clay is dry, but easily damaged while wet.
Once I was satisfied, I set the puppy on a couple of plastic containers, for a better air flow, and waited for the Creative Paperclay® to dry.
I painted the puppy completely with an Autumn Brown, let it dry, then roughly brushed over it with Antique White. I used good old black on the face, but let some of the brown show through a bit. Metallic blue was brushed lightly, over the black, for the nose, and I finished with a touch of raspberry for the nostrils, mouth, inner ears and around the eyes.
The eyes. I'm happy over all with this piece, except for the eyes. Time ran out, and Christmas happened. I gave the puppy to my husband, explaining that I was going to get some fake eyes and use them, once I found the right size. He says the piece is perfect, and wants me to leave it alone.
We’ll see. The nice thing is that I can still go back, and work further if I need to.