Monday, September 03, 2007

Clay Tiger

On the request of Dungeons and Dragons gamer Jac Ting Lim, a tiger was my sculpting project over the weekend. Dimensions were such that it could be used as a D&D miniature.

For this project, I used Sculpey polymer clay. Polymer clay, unlike the plasticine that is more common in local bookstores, can be oven-baked to hardness.

I wanted to pose the tiger as if it had just landed from a pounce. I started with a wire frame model soldered together from thick paper clips.

The next step was to coat the wire frame with clay. It's not shown in the photos (didn't want to stain my expensive camera), but the technique I used was to wrap a strip of clay around wire and just pull it down. Any exposed wire could be patched up with more clay.

I added more clay where I thought there ought to be more mass and muscle. Not to boast, but I was working without any model, just from an image in my mind. (Which is why I still might have to correct some parts of the sculpture later on.)

Having done the body, I then did the head. I started with a tetrahedron base, flattened it down at some corners, and added ears and a jaw.

Doing the tail last was a sensible decision. It was the easiest bit to do. While I was sculpting the rest of the body, I could use the exposed wire for that part as a handle for my table vise.

Front view of the tiger. Note the tools in the background for size comparison.

Unbaked Sculpey is a bit softer and less resistant than plasticine, and this works out to both good and bad. It's good because it's easier to shape, but it's not so good as it sometimes gives when I don't want it to. But on the whole, it's not bad material to work with.

Next step is baking, but that's for another time.

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