Thursday, March 5, 2015

"Snow Day Musings" by Linda Hess

The East Coast has had more than its share of snow days this season.  Predictions of "inclement weather" have closed schools once again.  Yet, when I woke this morning all I saw and heard was rain...bummer.  Fast forward a few hours and the snow predictions seem to be proving true. 
With the snow and ice falling outside, what better project to tackle than a Spring bird.  Perhaps tempt the warmer temperatures back to VA??

In my "other" life I teach art to K-8th grade at a local Catholic School.  Yesterday I worked with my 4th graders and earthen clay to create pinch pots birds.  I bet I could do the same with my Creative PaperClay and it wouldn't need the kiln.  Super easy to do and only a few materials would be needed!  Let's get started...

Creative PaperClay Modeling Material (
Assorted tools: knife, straw or needle tool, turkey lacer, cutters (if desired)
Texture (texture can be purchased or recycle materials from home!)
Acrylic paints in colors of choice
Optional: assorted beads, wire, wire cutters

1)  Cut off desired amount of Creative PaperClay and re-wrap the remainder (be sure to re-wrap in plastic wrap or a Ziploc baggie with all the air squeezed out).  Roll it into a ball.

2) Insert thumbs into the center of the ball and begin to form your pinch pot. Rotate the clay as the pot is formed.  this will help to create a uniform thickness to the sides.
Once you are happy with the size and shape, turn your pinch pot over as shown.
3) Any wrinkles in the clay can be smoothed by dipping 1 finger into water and then smoothing over the wrinkles. 
The water will also help to seal the "join" when adding features to the bird.
4) Return to the wrapped package of clay and pinch off a bit more for wings, a beak, and eyes.
For the Beak, roll a ball and then turn it into a teardrop by rolling between v-shaped hands (as shown). 

Flatten bottom edge against your work surface. 
Add lines with a turkey lacer (one of my favorite kitchen tools being used in a "better" way).  Dab some water on the flat side and attach where desired on your bird.  Use a bit more water along the seams until the beak is set in place. 
For the Wings, roll 2 equal sized balls of clay.  Roll each into a teardrop like the beak.  Place on work space and flatten with a texture (I used a favorite plastic texture from Makin's Clay). 
 Rub flat side of each with water and press into place on either side of the bird.  
For the Eyes, Roll 2 small balls of clay.  Flatten slightly against work surface.  Circle details can be made with many items...I used a plastic tube and the smaller circle in the lid to make eyes as shown). 

 Dab back with water and press into place. 
For Crest of Feathers,  Roll 3 more balls of clay in any size desired.  Pinch into triangle shape, flatten bottom against work surface, and give end a slight curl.  Again, dab the bottom with water and press into place smoothing seams with your finger.

 5) If you desire to add bird feet, use a needle tool to create holes in the front.  OR the holes could be drilled into place after the bird has finished drying.
OPTIONAL FEET:  For feet, return to the package of clay and pull off a small amount.  Roll clay into 2 equal sized balls.  Flatten slightly on the work space.  Pinch back side of each into a rounded teardrop.
Use turkey lacer to create "toes".  Smooth out toes with a bit of water.  Toenails can be added by pressing with circle design ( I do LOVE my painted toenails!).  Final touch is to create a hole as shown.

Now you can set the bird aside to dry naturally...OR (if you are impatient like me) you can pop it into a low temp oven (275 degrees) for 15-20 minutes, long enough to set the clay and ready it for painting!

Obviously the details can be painted any way that pleases you.  given the fact that I am a school teacher, I enjoy bright, bold, fanciful colors when taking on a project like this.  Even better, shimmery colors add the bling that I so love!! 
Set aside until paint and clay are completely dry
(NOTE: Baking does not completely dry the piece.  I usually set is aside overnight after painting)
If you created feet for your bird, legs can be strung at this point.
(I used assorted polymer clay beads and wire). 


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