Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Day of the Dead Character, Step by Step

I always enjoy seeing the process of how people make their art. So, I thought I would share a few photos of one of my pieces in the making. Although I am sculpting a skeleton here, the same method could apply to any small figurine! Here’s how I made this little Day of the Dead geisha skeleton. First is the armature: 18 gauge or so wire with fine wire wrapped around to better hold the clay. I bend the armature into the position I want. I really get the “feel”, or the movement of the figure during this step.

Next is the clay. I make the head separately then add it to the body before baking.

I use a pasta machine to roll the clay thin for the clothing. I cut it with an exacto in pieces like a fabric pattern, then “fit” it on the figure.

I use Super Sculpey, which is strong, yet easy to use and best of all, can be baked in a toaster oven on my patio. The baking temperature of polymer clay varies by brand and by your oven, but I bake mine at about 180 for 20 minutes. This black blob is WHY I have the toaster oven on the patio, and not in the house!

It was my first attempt at making this Day of the Dead snowman ornament,

but my toaster oven had a malfunction and burned it beyond recognition. (By all accounts, polymer clay is safe to use, unless it burns, and the fumes are toxic!) Anyway, you can bake and re-bake the clay as many times as needed to make the body, then the clothing, etc. In this piece the geisha is going to be holding a shamisen, (lute), so that’s a separate piece.

Then it gets sanded and primed with gesso.

Next I start painting the clothing and the facial details. I use craft acrylics.

Now all that’s left is the hair. I use either mohair or viscose for my figurines, and E6000 to glue it on. E6000 is the strongest glue on earth, in my opinion, (but better open the windows and turn on the fan while using it!) So, here is the finished geisha skeleton.

Thanks for stopping by! Please let me know if you have any questions or comments!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Why I Love The Day of the Dead

I have always been a fan of Mexican arts and crafts. I spent all my childhood summers in a trailer park a couple of miles north of Ensenada. (And, WOW, do I feel old looking at this photo of our 1960 Pontiac Bonneville Safari, the family station wagon! I learned to drive in that boat!)
The trailer park, King's Coronita, (it's still there!)
 At the end of the road there was a gift shop called El Nuevo Nopal, where I spent many an hour staring at everything item in the store, but I was particularly enamored of the handmade toys and arts and crafts. I always loved the miniatures, especially the Dia de los Muertos dioramas. I thought they were so cool and funny, and I still do!
I love putting my spin on this wonderful traditional theme, and I believe that the sentiment behind the holiday is so touching and so respectful of those who have passed. But it is also a celebration and there is a lot of fun and healing involved in remembering and honoring our deceased loved ones by preparing and eating their favorite foods and drinks, bringing out their photos and mementos, and celebrating their lives.
In my Day of the Dead work, I like to depict my skeletons in the ever after, still hanging out, going about their business, enjoying themselves and still having some fun. This year I also plan to explore using other clays, like paper clay and self hardening clay and expanding my horizons a bit by trying my hand at doll making. I love dolls and I’m excited about learning more about this art. I’ll try to share what I learn as I go along. I also find so many interesting artists, from Halloween artists, Day of the Dead artists and doll artists that inspire me, I would like to share some of their work here on my blog. Thanks for stopping by and checking out my new venture!
One of My Day of the Dead Wedding Cake Toppers

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Mannequins and Skeletons

       Well, this is my first post on my new blog!   A little about my background.  I’ve always loved to draw and paint and I first became interested in sculpting when my husband and I bought a mannequin refinishing business in the 80’s.  We repaired, painted and modified mannequins while we owned the business for several years until we both went to work for a large mannequin manufacturer in East Los Angeles, Greneker Mannequin Co.  I headed the make up department and eventually switched over to sculpting for the company

Refinished mannequins

I then worked as a free lance commercial sculptor for years for various display companies in L.A.  I sculpted everything from 7 foot tall Bugs Bunny and other Warner Bros. and Disney characters to mannequins and even a killer whale! 
        I loved this job, working on the BIG stuff, but I moved to Austin, Texas where the opportunities for commercial sculpting were slim to none, and I decided to go small.  I have been working with polymer clay on a small scale since then and I love the SMALL stuff even more!  The skeleton figures that I sculpt for my Day of the Dead wedding cake toppers and dioramas are usually around 5 ½ inches tall.

Some Samples of my Commercial Sculpting Work:

Remember the Anamaniacs?  This was for the Warner Bros. Stores

Me and my killer whale

Some painted whales

Some jugglers for a Casino


Smaller Pieces in Plastilina