Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fall/Halloween Tree by Linda Hess

I have been teaching an after-school polymer clay group for years.  This year I have a group of middle school students (yippee), so we can work on some more involved projects.  Yesterday I showed them how to make an armature from foil and then wrap it with polymer clay.  HMMMM, wouldn't it be great to use my air dry Creative PaperClay® instead?!  I set right to work...

The materials are easy:  Creative PaperClay®. foil, a damp paper towel, and your hands (Optional: cutting tool)
1) Pull off a long piece of foil (mine is about 2ft long).  Crumple it together at the bottom only (keep the top loose).
 Be careful how tightly you scrunch it together...foil can always be made smaller as the design progresses, but it is very difficult to make it larger without ripping.
2) Flatten the bottom of the trunk by pressing against the work surface.  Do not worry about it standing at this point...adjustments can be made as the tree progresses and the branches help to balance it.
3) Now to work on the branches.  Beginning at one end of the foil (about 3"-4" from the end), carefully rip it down towards the trunk.
Do not rip it off as this will form a branch.  Scrunch the foil together (as shown),
folding onto itself to shorten the branch (if desired).  Continue to rip and scrunch branches until the top is completely done.  
As you can see from the photo, no 2 tree armatures ever turn out the same (OOAK creations).
4) Now it is time to apply the Creative PaperClay®.  Cut off a piece of clay from the block (NOTE: A tree of this size shouldn't take any more than 1/4 block of PaperClay).  Place it onto the damp paper towel.  Fold the towel over the clay to keep it moist as you work.
5) I like to work with small pieces and then smooth as I go.  Pull a blob of clay off the cut piece.   Flatten/thin the blob between your fingers
before applying to the tree armature.  Begin work at the bottom and work your way up to the branches.  
Since this is a tree, I don't want it to be super smooth...the seams are smoothed together, but texture is left behind.  If the clay doesn't want to go together at the seams, dip one finger into water and smooth over the clay.
Continue until the tree is completely covered.

6) Step back and take a the branches look "full" or does it need a few touch ups?  My tree looked a bit bare, so I added small bits of clay onto the large branches by pressing small bits on and then smoothing along the seams.

7)  Final touch, fattening the bottom and adding roots.  Add blobs to the base of the trunk, smooth into place, and then pull out some of excess clay to form a triangle.
Twist the triangle gently to create roots.  
Once you are happy with the look, set the tree aside to dry.

Tomorrow: Finishing the tree and embellishing


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