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Okay, I can finally post about this now -- here is a recent arts/crafts project I did. I actually did it weekend before last, but it's only finished enough to post now.

See, I wanted an arctic fox pendant. (I have this habit of wearing chunky jewelry.) What I really wanted was a pendant that was an arctic fox all curled up. Carved out of ivory/bone/antler would be nice. In fact, there is a seller on eBay that specializes in Inuit carvings in walrus ivory, including the occasional arctic fox, which make up in charm what they lack in realism. (They aren't pendants, but I thought I could maybe make a pendant out of it.) Problem was, the guy who does the carvings doesn't do the arctic foxes that often, and in over a year, I haven't been able to win one of the auctions for one.

"You know," I said to myself, "maybe I could make one." Granted, what I know about carving ANYthing could be fit inside... an extremely miniscule thing. (I've never done any kind of whittling or carving or anything.)

But, but... there is this "Sculpey" stuff I have heard tell of. It's kind of like Fimo, only more malleable. You can work it like clay, and then fire it hard in the oven. And it comes in all kinds of colors, so in theory, you could grab some in an ivory color and... (then a miracle occurs)... and what you would have in the end is something that looked almost exactly like something somebody had made out of clay that was meant to look like something carved out of ivory!

Okay, so... Sculpey acquired, the weekend before last I sat down to try to do this. I think it helped that I was aiming to do something very simple and not terribly realistic. Let the record show that I have not attempted to do ANYthing 3-D like this in, oh, 25 years, easy. (The last time would be the requisite clay modules in art class in high school -- which at the time convinced me that 3-D was not my thing, and that's why I stuck to 2-D art for the next several decades.)

Sculpey is pretty forgiving. I had a couple of carving tools, and also a dental tool. I created the fox by a process of shaping the domed round, and then sketching on it the shape of the head and ears and tail. And then: add add add... subtract, subtract... pinch pinch pinch, smooooothe... add add, subtract... pinch pinch... smooothe. Repeat for next 2 hours. The ears were additions. The tail and haunch and face were mostly carved. The profile of the head was pinched and added and smoothed and carved. I used a Q-tip with the cotton ripped off one end to punch a hole through the top for a cord (eventually).

I liked the result. I took the result with me to my_tallest's to use his oven to bake it. The thing is 3/4" thick and therefore needed 45 min. of baking.

I think that either we mistimed it, or else the truth is that Sculpey does not wish to be baked for 45 minutes. I put an ivory-colored fox into the oven, and I took out a brown fox. Which would be fine except I did not want a summer-phase arctic fox.

So the following week was spent repainting it white/ivory. :P And then finally painting the eyes and nose. And then covering it with Scupley Glaze (supposedly matte/satin, but I dunno, it looks pretty glossy to me).

Here's the finished product, though. Please excuse the horrid blurriness of the second set of photos that show some of the profile a bit. I'm crap with my camera. I think in *one* of the pics you can see where the long hole through the top for the cord is positioned. You should probably click on through to the largest version to really appreciate the detail.

The dimensions are 2.125" wide x 1.875" high. (So, as near to 2"x2" as makes no difference, really.)



( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
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Feb. 27th, 2008 03:39 am (UTC)
Yay kitsune! So cute! I think you did a really good job with it! Also, Sculpy is awesome. Once for a play in college we ended up baking a whole phone, because needed to fix the earpiece for a prop, and just used sculpy, and tossed the whole damn thing in the oven. It was awesome. It was also an old, metal phone. :)
Feb. 27th, 2008 02:46 pm (UTC)

Now, see, what I want to know is -- if you baked an entire big object like a phone, how long did you bake it for, and how did you avoid the "burning" issue? Or did you use a dark color of Sculpey, so if it got burned in the firing, it didn't show?
(no subject) - emilytheslayer - Feb. 27th, 2008 03:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alisgray - Feb. 27th, 2008 03:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 27th, 2008 03:58 am (UTC)
It is most awesome! You can see how the cord goes in a couple of the pics, actually, and I'm so glad you uploaded the ginormous versions, because I love the detail, especially the eyes.
Feb. 27th, 2008 02:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :) The eyes are really deeply carved, which looked okay in the unpainted version (except I was always going to paint them, as if they were inlaid), but gave me fits trying to paint them later. I'm so relieved that they came out.
Feb. 27th, 2008 04:05 am (UTC)
It's SO CUUUUUUUTE! I don't know if I've ever seen you do something in 3D!! How awesome!
Feb. 27th, 2008 02:48 pm (UTC)

No, I don't think you ever have. I was casting my mind back, but really most of the crafty stuff I did for the SCA was flat. If art class at age 16 or so was the last time I did anything 3D, then no, you wouldn't have ever seen it.
Feb. 27th, 2008 04:14 am (UTC)
It's very cute!
Feb. 27th, 2008 02:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :)
Feb. 27th, 2008 04:32 am (UTC)
It's so sweet!
Feb. 27th, 2008 02:49 pm (UTC)
Thanks. :) That was one of the goals. ;-)
Feb. 27th, 2008 04:35 am (UTC)
Wow, awesome, he's got such a lovely little face. =)
Feb. 27th, 2008 02:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you! The facial proportions were one of the things most important to me, and I kept thinking, "surely I could do a better job of getting them right myself, than these other people I see attempting it". (Which isn't to say that relief pendants of arctic foxes are thick on the ground. But things like figurines often strike me as subtly off, too.)
Feb. 27th, 2008 04:43 am (UTC)
Okay, that? Fucking ADORABLE. What a gorgeous job you did!

I've always wanted to try Sculpey -- I coveted many of the Sculpey items available for sale in a local store when I was in Oregon -- but I never trusted that I had a decent enough oven to manage it, and I didn't want to spend all that time getting my thing carved just so and then have it break in the oven. :D I might try it though since you've had such success. I've always wanted to try carving, sculpting or otherwise 3-Ding but have either not wanted to spend the money on art supplies I might end up not using, or just haven't known where to start.
Feb. 27th, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC)
Well -- do you have a toaster-oven? Because if you do, you might be able to use that. I realized later that I could have used my own toaster-oven (my real oven doesn't work, for complicated reasons of the plot). I took it to Bill's because I was going there for the afternoon anyway and figured I'd get that baking done while I was sitting around. You only have to bake them at 275 degrees for 15 min. per 1/4" of thickness.

And while I'm pretty sure I over-fired this (it was hard to tell; we set a timer and then didn't hear it go off; but I could swear that we couldn't have been THAT far off the time, because basically we started the timer, then started up an ep of SGA, got through it, futzed around, and then I got up to check on the piece), and it did look like a burnt sugar-cookie (medium to darkish brown), it definitely didn't crack. Which I was wondering about, because most of the way through the process, I added a big ol' chunk to make his haunch and tail bigger, so that could have been a fault-line to crack along. Or the ears could have cracked off. But it was all fine.

There are people I've seen on dA, though, who have done little sculptures and stuff, and I look at those now and wonder... how do you bake something that thick and not have it burn? Or are you always planning to just paint it after, so you don't care? I mean, you CAN get Sculpey in lots of colors, for the folks who like to do millefiori work and stuff, but maybe more people than I realize just paint it.

There is a WHOLE WORLD of polymer-clay crafters out there doing their thing and exchanging ideas, I'm sure. Like the knitters. I bet they have wank, and everything.

I was glad this turned out so well, because really, I had barely any idea where to start, either. I bought a pack of Sculpey and the tools, and I tried some online sites to see if there were any tips, but couldn't really find the kinds of things I wanted to know.

But Sculpey is nice and CHEAP. I liked that about it, too. I guess it wouldn't be as cheap if you were trying to buy some of each of 10 colors. But for me, this whole project cost $15, which includes the Sculpey (I got some white and some ivory), the glaze, and two clay-carving tools. While I was doing it, I felt like if I screwed up badly and had to start over, I wouldn't feel that bad about the wasted material.

I am told by a friend who's tried both that Fimo (I know nothing about its pricing) is a bit more stiff and carvable than Sculpey. Sculpey is easier to knead and pinch and stuff.
(no subject) - agentotter - Mar. 5th, 2008 10:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 27th, 2008 04:48 am (UTC)
Oh, and I was also going to mention... I found this guy at the Oregon Country Fair one year, and got a really awesome wolf-head pendant from him... thought you might like to look at his stuff for interest/inspiration. He works in porcelain, and his main business seems to be pet urns, but he also makes some really neat jewelry and sculptures and stuff. I was very interested to note that he seems to make use of a lot of leather-working tools for stamping patterns into his porcelain.

Animals Are Wise
Feb. 27th, 2008 03:06 pm (UTC)
Oooo! Thank you for that link! I like his stuff! I really like the "tribal" wolf (though I don't quite like the set of the eyes), his red fox is *very good*, the horses are just the cutest things, and that bear with the salmon? Spectacular! So is the polar bear. (Too bad I'm not fond enough of bears to wear one.)

Probably my only quibble with his pieces is that they're on the small side for me. ;-) As I said, I like big pieces -- most of my pendants are in the 2"x2" range, though I have some that are smaller (when I liked something so much I wanted to have it even if it was "too small"). And his prices are reasonable! I'm really tempted by some of his stuff...
(no subject) - agentotter - Mar. 5th, 2008 10:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 27th, 2008 03:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :) As I remarked to someone else -- I was afraid at one point that I kind of shot myself in the foot with the eyes, they're very deeply carved and were hard to paint. Thank goodness they came out okay, because you're right -- that's the part that is going to make or break the piece. It's one of the reasons I wanted to do a piece myself; I kept being dissatisfied with the faces of fox pendants that I was finding.
Feb. 27th, 2008 06:04 am (UTC)
That is awesome! I'd like to see you do more!

I think the painting turned out really nicely too.
Feb. 27th, 2008 03:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :)

I might do more; we'll see. I have one more thing planned to do, and I might try Fimo for it -- I want to make a pendant that will mimic carved argillite, with my LJ default user icon on it.

Otherwise I don't have a ton of ideas for things I want to do, but hey, you never know! The actual making of it didn't take me that long -- about 2 and a half hours, total. (Arguably, it took longer to paint it back to white and do the eyes. It also could have taken longer if I'd tried to sand away the fingerprints that were all over it. >_< As it happened, the layers of white paint obliterated those.) So I wouldn't be scared of trying to do something else.

You want a pendant, lady? ;-) (Well, I *do* owe you at least one art trade so far! Perhaps more, eventually.)
Feb. 27th, 2008 07:38 am (UTC)
Oh, wow, that is NICE work!
Feb. 27th, 2008 03:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'm as surprised as anyone. ;-)
Feb. 27th, 2008 08:01 am (UTC)
Well done! Top marks for concept and execution - and you had fun doing it too, so the whole project is made of win :-)))

I love the cute little face!
Feb. 27th, 2008 03:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :) The face was really important to me to get right, I'm so pleased that it came out.
Feb. 27th, 2008 11:18 am (UTC)
That's beautiful! You're really amazing you know. And maybe you could contact that other guy anyway and nudge him to carve a fox too?

But yours is fabulous.
Feb. 27th, 2008 03:14 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :D

Did you see the cute raven the other guy has?


I also noticed on his main site that since he specializes in making pottery urns for the ashes of dead pets (... yeah), he says that you can send him a pic of your pet and he'll do a custom portrait of it. Now, if he'll do that... then surely he would do a custom pendant. I have to find out what his pricing is on that.
(no subject) - jenlev - Feb. 27th, 2008 10:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 27th, 2008 03:31 pm (UTC)

I have an old toaster oven that is used solely for craft projects like this one. way to rock the DIY, H.
Feb. 27th, 2008 05:26 pm (UTC)
That's wonderful!!
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