Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Introducing C. Rona

Preparing for my post this month in a time of continued stay-at-home orders, I was drawn to a cartoon on the internet by Don Landgren titled "Little Shop of Misinformation".  Many artists have been creating their own renditions of the "virus", so it is not surprising that as soon as I saw the drawing, my mind flashed to a project in clay...and Qtips...and watercolor!
Delight Air Dry Modeling Compound
1 round glass (or plastic) Christmas ornament
Qtips (I purchased mine at the Dollar Tree)
Watercolor paints and brushes
Cutting tool (knife or blade)
Bamboo skewer or stick of some sort
Small piece of foil
Acrylic roller, rolling pin, or glass
Optional: bud vase 
Texture (I used a clean sponge)
Step 1: Remove the metal cap from your Christmas ornament and set it aside.  Wrap the end of the bamboo skewer or stick with foil and compress the foil tightly enough that it will fit inside the Christmas ornament.  (Note: This will allow you to manipulate all of the materials without handling them directly).  
Set this aside (I placed mine in a bud vase for stability).

Step 2: Prepare the Qtips!  Let me say to be sure you paint enough Qtips ahead of time.  I thought that I had enough, but once I started layering them (look ahead to understand what I mean) I discovered I needed more.  No real issue, since you can always paint them afterward, but so much easier to have them painted before placing!
You will see in the pictures that I only applied paint on one side of each Qtip.  Obviously, painting both sides would have been a better choice!
Dip the Qtip end into the water, then roll (trust me) in the chosen paint color.

By rolling in the paint, the Qtip will stay intact rather than shredding! Use your finger or a paintbrush to draw the color down into any areas that are unpainted.  Repeat with the remaining Qtips (I end up using about 30 total).  Set aside to dry.  
Step 3:  Cut open the package of clay and cut the block of clay in half.  Rewrap the part not being used (I put mine in a Ziploc baggie and squeezed out all the air).  Begin flattening the clay.  
NOTE: I start by flattening it with my fingers before placing it on a work surface to roll with the acrylic roller. I kept the thickness between 1/8"-1/4".  Once flattened, wrap the ornament completely.  Seams can be sealed by dipping a finger into water and smoothing over (I suggest using a finger over a brush for this step since there is more control).  Continue all around the form, adding more clay if necessary, until it is covered.

Step 4:   Press over the entire surface with your texture.

Step 5:  Now the fun begins!  As I mentioned, I was inspired by a cartoon, so I kept my inspiration close by for reference.
Pull off a small amount of the remaining clay (in Ziploc baggie) and roll it into a snake.  Taper both ends of the snake into points.  Dip a finger into the water and smooth the snake before placing it where desired on the form (I apologize but I don't have a photo of this step. It would help if I had more hands!).
Once placed, use more water to help smooth the seams (one finger at a time or you will be sorry!).  Once the first snake has been placed and smoothly attached, create a second snake from a little more reserve clay and repeat the above directions. Retexture areas as needed.

Step 6:  In the original sketch the virus had a tongue sticking out.  I tried to add this feature, but it obviously needed some support (it kept breaking off), so I made the artistic decision to change the vision (haha).  Even though my "virus" has what looks to be a smiling mouth, I began to add teeth.  To create the teeth, pull off tiny bits of clay and pinch them into triangles.  Cut a flat edge.  Dip a finger in the water and apply it to the back of each tooth before placing it in the mouth.  Press each into place before moving on.

Step 7:  Time for the Qtips!  Begin by cutting the tips off each side.  
(NOTE: The Dollar Tree Qtips are on a great hollow plastic stick.  If using this brand, reserve the sticks to use later. )  Gather 3 tips together and press into the clay to resemble the virus barbs.  Repeat around the whole ball. "Barbs" are not necessary down the length of the foil-covered stick (this will be cut away after the clay dries).  Continue adding tips until you are happy with the look.  
Remember the unused sticks mentioned above?  I cut those into tiny bits and pressed them into the clay as well. 
If you do not have usable hollow sticks, bits of clay rolled into balls and pressed into place will work.  Beads are also a good replacement, but will probably need to be glued into place once everything has dried.
 Notice the white Qtips??  As mentioned above, I ran out of the painted ones, so added unpainted.  Trust me, so much easier to have them painted beforehand!

Step 8:  Time to paint.  I began with a teeny tiny brush and black paint to carefully paint the inside of the mouth.  I followed that with the lips (a mixture of red and pink, layered), "barbs" (straight red), and finally the "head" (grey overlaid with periwinkle blue).  If the paint is too dark, adding more water will help to thin the color and spread it.  HOWEVER, try no to use too much water or the texture will disappear and the red from the Qtips may bleed.
You may have noticed I peeled away the extra clay from the foil-covered stick.  This is an optional design choice.

A single "barb"? Again, design choice.  Make this your own by adding your own touches! Maybe you want to continue the clay down the stick and keep it covered!  Add some leaves (think of what silk leaves could add to this...oooooooo!)

You may have noticed places where the grey base touched the red "barbs" (Oops!).  This area can be retouched if desired...or not, you choose.

Once the painting is complete, set the piece aside for 24 hrs to allow all the layers to dry completely.  Once dried, if the barbs fall out, a dab of glue will keep them in place (I suggest "The Ultimate" tacky glue).  I pulled out the sick and cut the bottom even with the opening of the ornament.  Then I replaced the metal cap (Again, optional decision).

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial.  I think it is a way to put a comedic spin on this challenging time.  I may have to add a little fabric or paper mask to him/her!  Prayers that things will soon return to "normal".  Until then...
Everyone stay safe!  

1 comment:

Art by Susie Krichbaum said...

I love this idea! Taking a sour subject and making it sweet.