Friday, June 26, 2020

Learning From Our Past, Creating a Sankofa Bird Sculpture

Hello everyone, Cinnamon here and I am going to show you how
I created this piece. The “Sankofa” is a symbol used by the Akan people
of Ghana, which translates to "Go back and get it". It's depicted as a
bird with its head turned backward taking an egg from its back. It is
 the importance of going back to our roots to learn from our past so
 that we can achieve our full potential as we move forward in the future. 

Materials: Creative Paperclay®,Wire 16 guage, Masking tape, Exacto 
Knife, Sand paper, E600 Craft Glue, Acrylic paint, Sealer, Varnish

Begin by shaping out the frame for the piece which would be the armature. 
This gives the piece a  solid structure to be able to build on top of.

When you are done with the wire portion of the armature, you 
can begin to bulk it out with either masking tape or aluminum foil. 
I use masking tape because I always have an issue getting clay 
to stick the foil. Use what ever you feel comfortable with.

Here I am putting the first layer of paperclay. I always have a
rough start with the first layer so I'm not looking for detail at this 
stage. Set it aside and allow to dry for roughly 24 hours.

After the piece dries, go on to working up the second layer. On this
 layer you want to smooth the clay out while you work so that you'll 
have less sanding to do after it dries. It helps to smooth a drop of water 
on while the clay is still moist to get some of the wrinkles out.

After setting the piece out to dry again, it is time to sand it smooth. 
I am using an 800 grit sheet of sand paper to get it nice and smooth.

This is a reference photo that I made of the Sankofa bird. I wanted to add
 my own twist to it and not necessarily copy one that someone else created. 
The first one is a popular one that is often used and the other ones I drew 
myself in illustrator. I took pieces from the first and gradually made 
changes to it in each version that followed.

I added a bump to the bird's neck so that it would establish the head of the bird.

I had a few details to work out with the the tail feathers so I used some
 of this product that was sent to me to try out from Creative Paperclay®. 
I don't know what it's called but the texture is a little thicker then modeling
 paste and it dries really hard. I was able to mush it into those hard to 
reach places in between the feathers without disturbing them. When it dries,
 it is just as sandable as the paperclay. I wish I could tell you what it is!

Here I am just painting the piece black so that it could look like 
some of the African wood sculptures that I have in my collection.


I decided to paint the egg gold since it represents knowledge
 and knowledge is golden. I just stuck a small sewing needle into
 the egg so that it would be easier for me to paint it. You can do 
what ever works best for you.

I decided to lay the egg on the back of the bird instead of putting
 it into it's mouth like I originally planned. You can use glue to
 put it in place, I just used Aleene's Tacky glue.

Thank you all once again for stopping by, and I hope that you 
enjoyed today's tutorial! You can find Creative Paperclay® at 
the following retailers Creative Paperclay® Online Store,

See more of my work at and be
sure to catch updates on my Instagram page

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