Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Make a Beach Ball and Practice Smoothing Over Creative Paperclay® - Finishing Techniques

Make a Creative Paperclay® Beach Ball - Smoothing Over Creative Paperclay® - Finishing Techniques

Masking Tape (florist tape, gaffers tape, and painters tape work too.)
Aluminum foil or newsprint paper
Creative Paperclay® 
Gesso (I used Black Golden brand. )
Acrylic Paint (I used Liquitex and Golden. )
Paint Brushes (Gesso can be hard on brushes.  Use cheap foam brushes for this. ) 
Sandpaper (I used 100 -420 grits)
Sculpting Tools are optional.  I did this with my fingers and a bit of water.
Shop Rag – To smooth over clay.  
Dust Mask or Bandana – use this when sanding

How do you get Creative Paperclay® to be smooth after it dries?

I had a really hard time with this at first.  I was so used to other mediums that get smoothed out before drying and curing.  I was definitely frustrated with my first attempts to smooth things out.  I had some thoughts of my own from previous clay mediums, wood working, and my desire to paint my finished sculptures. Luckily for me the Doll Making and Creative Paperclay® communities are really great about sharing ideas.  I got lots of suggestions, Some worked for me, some did not.  

Here I will share my experiences and my favorite way to smooth and prepare Creative Paperclay for painting.

For my purposes I like to prep the surface of Creative Paperclay® for painting with acrylic paints.  I usually like a relatively smooth surface where the paint will sit on top of the clay rather than sink in.  I know that some people use watercolors or watered down acrylics and that is fine.  It is just not the look I am going for.  

As an artist I am primarily a figurative, sculptor.  My favorite subjects to sculpt are whimsical characters, dancers, and magical, Mystical Beings.  I currently am working on a collection of figures with a vintage look.  I have been inspired by the vintage images of bathers at Ocean Beach and The Sutro Bath House that used to be in San Francisco, where I grew up.  I think that Creative Paper Clay® painted with acrylic paints is the perfect combination of mediums for this collection.

Hola, me llamo Benicio, El Guapo .  Yo no tengo ningun razon para estar aqui.  Yo solo soy dulce para sus ojos! 

Hello, I am Benicio, The Handsome One.  I don't have any real reason for being here.  I am just eye candy!


For the purpose of this discussion I will use a beach ball project as my sample - Demo piece.  These techniques can be used with any Creative Paperclay® project. 

Step One - I found a small rubber ball and covered it with masking tape.  This is the kind of ball that is filled with air, not the solid rubber type.  An actual beach ball would work for this project but, I didn't want to go quite that big this time.  Maybe some time in the future!  

Step Two - Apply a thin layer of Creative Paperclay® over the entire surface of the ball.  I used a rolling pin to get big flat sheets of Creative Paperclay®. 

Tip - for a smoother finish rub a little water over the surface as you work and when the ball is completely covered.   

Step Two.Five - Allow the creative paper clay to dry completely.  Because I did this project in the Spring and we had lots of rain it took more than a week to feel really dry.  

There will probably be some cracking where the clay has shrunken but the ball has not.  Don't worry, we can fix this!  

Step Three - With a sharp tool like an awl or upholstery needle poke through the clay and allow the air to escape from the ball. If you want you can cut the clay ball open to remove the ball but, that was just too much work for me.  

Step Four - Patch up any cracks and craters by using a slurry of Creative Paperclay® and water.  Allow this repair layer to dry completely, at least over night. 

Tip - At this point you can use a wet rag to smooth over the mostly, dried clay surface.  The paper pulp fibers in the clay get compressed when you do this.  Just be sure to not add too much water.  Creative Paperclay® can be reconstituted even after it is bone dry.    

Step Five - Put on a dust mask (Because breathing is essential!), work in a well ventilated area, preferably outside (This can be a bit messy.) 

Step FIve and a Quarter - Using 150- 320 grit sand paper, sand the entire surface of the ball in a circular motion.  Move around the piece rather than focusing on any one spot.  It may seem daunting but the material is rather soft and takes really well to sanding.  Do not only rely on your eyes.  Use your hands and fingers to feel over the surface and find any rough or uneven patches.  If you have any particularly rough spots you can use sanding screen.  I used 
3M Drywall Sanding Screen in medium.  Go easy with this stuff.  It will remove a lot of material.

Step Six - Cover the ball will several light, coats of acrylic gesso.  Black or white will do.  I apply gesso in a crisscross pattern rather than in the same direction.  This will help eliminate definite brush strokes Allow the gesso to dry in between coats.  Sand the gessoed surface in between coats.  This will produce a surface that feels a lot like plaster for fresco painting.  I just love it! 

Step Seven - Paint your Beach Ball or art sphere as desired.  Classic Beach Ball colors and styles are nice and that is what I have done so far but, I really think this is a great surface for painting all sorts of fun designs.  I plan on doing more non-traditional Beach Balls.  

Here is a nice close up of  the first Creative Paperclay® face that I sculpted.  At this point she is covered with a few coats of white gesso.  Before painting her with acrylics she also got several coats of black gesso.  I fell in love with this face at every stage.  I like the Creative Paperclay® covered in gesso and sanded so much that I almost left her unpainted!     

This is Gianni - From The Fysh Styx Collection.  He is a full body sculpt of Creative Paperclay® over newsprint paper, cardboard, aluminum foil, and masking tape.  I sanded and gessoed him just like the other projects above.  He may be getting a pirate tattoo on his chest soon! 

Now just because I can sand and gesso the surface of Creative Paperclay® down to a fine and smooth finish, that is not always the look I am going for.  Sometimes I want a rougher look.  I think it adds some interest to the finished piece when there is a bit of surface texture left.  Although it can be challenging to paint the rougher surfaces I like the look of age and nostalgia. 

This is Sweet Treats.  She reminds me of Albert Einstein!  Do you see it?  Look up Albert Einstein with his tongue sticking out and then tell me what you think!  She may be younger and cuter but, not overly cute.  That's not my thing.  I think the rough texture makes her so much more interesting.  If I wanted a cute baby doll, I'd go to Toys R Us, OOPS!  I guess not anymore, perhaps Amazon is the better option for that.

This is Frida Fysh Styx.  She is a full body sculpted wall art doll.  The texture is part of her visual interest.  Without it she looks just like all of the other cute, smooth faced dollys.  I encourage you to try out a few rough pieces and a few smooth pieces.  You may find that you have a favorite Or you may be like me and love it all!  

At this point you may be wondering what you're gonna do with your newly created beach Ball Sculpture.  This is what I did........  

 This is Beach Ball Babylon, my first totem project.  I placed a mermaid, who is looking for some action, on top of the beach ball.  They are attached by a dowel that runs through all three pieces.  I hope you love her as much as I do!  If you decide to make your own please be sure to share a few photos with me!
I hope that you have enjoyed this project as much as I have!  I'll be back with more "What's On My Workbench Wednesday" fun on the first Wednesday of each month.

Until then, stay cool and don’t forget the sun screen!  

Fin - The End

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