Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Coco Mask WIP #3

Here is the mixed, molded and baked Conan mask with eye positions marked.  After the eyes are drilled and slots cut into the head, leather strips will be glued into these slots to simulate hair.

But how did I make the wood grain?  Here it is.  First, there are no set color formulas.  I work up a new mixture each time I do a new project.  The leftovers are saved for smaller projects.  Most of my colors are earthy hues, such as raw umber, burnt sienna, and ecru.  Black, white, copper, gold and pearl can adjust hues or add a little sheen.  Experiment.  You could uncover a really nice effect.

Secondly, I usually mix up 3 or 4 colors for the grain.  For this piece I mixed the following.  You can use this mixture as a starting point:
1 raw umber with 1 white
1 raw umber with 1 ecru
1/2 raw umber with 1/2 burnt sienna

The thinking here is that Conan is light skinned, so I use light color mixtures.  The burnt sienna adds more contrast and interest to the faux wood mixture.  The raw umber/white and raw umber/ecru are mixed completely and set aside as two separate logs.  The raw umber/burnt sienna mix does not need to be mixed completely.  The marbling in this log adds even more realism to the final faux wood effect.  I would not do this with the raw umber/white, because solid white streaks would not be the effect I'm looking for.  The marbling works better with colors that are not so contrasting.  Now,  push the three logs together to form one big log.  Cut this log in half and push the two halves together.  Roll it out into a big log and cut it again.  As you keep rolling and cutting, rolling and cutting, the lines in the log will get thinner and thinner until it starts to look like wood grain.  When the log looks the way you want, pick the best area to go on top and squash it or roll it out.  Work slowly so the clay doesn't smear.  One of those clear rolling rods is the way to go.  Also, I have a pasta machine, but I do not use it very often for this technique because of the smearing factor.  When it comes to faux wood, I'm antipasta.  Get it?

Thirdly, as I mentioned yesterday, working with molds can be a challenge because the soft faux wood clay has a tendency to separate and pull apart when pushed into the mold.  So, make sure to form a tent with the clay, but make this tent slowly to avoid smears.  And, use a good release agent on your soft clay and in every crevice of the mold.  I use Armor All or K-Y Jelly mixed with a little water.  Slowly and carefully, push your faux wood tent into the mold.  Gradually work your way outward until you have filled the mold.  Pull the soft molded clay out of the mold and set it on a baking tile.  Turn on your faucet to just a trickle and let the slow moving water cascade over the molded clay for a minute or two.  Now daub the clay dry with a very soft paper towel or facial tissue.  Be gentle!  Just touch the paper towel to the liquid and the release agent will get sucked right out along with the water.  Pretty slick, huh?

Lastly, carefully trim away excess clay with a tissue blade or x-Acto and bake for 30 minutes at 275 degrees if you are using Premo.  If not, follow the baking directions that came with your clay.

I hope to show you the finished product tomorrow.  See you then!

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