Friday, November 30, 2012

A December to Remember

A December to remember was something I think I heard on a car commercial years ago.  Anywho, work has commenced on my big December project.  There will not be step-by-step posts here as there was for the lion mask.  That was more of a tutorial  and instruction on how I accomplish certain things with polymer clay.  I will keep you updated with little blurbs throughout the month.  I will say that I believe this will be my best creation ever.  Seriously.  You just wait...
I did this sketch of a steampunk goldfish and decided to take the time to make a vector drawing of it so you can get a better look of how the finished piece might appear.
The final polymer clay goldfish will be posted when it is finished, but it is just one part of my December project.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Too Late

This little leaf is sprouting out of the trunk of a tree while the rest of the leaves are turning color, withering, and falling.  I would guess that this leaf will follow suit and start changing color very soon.  It will whither and fall and join its relatives on the ground.  But do not despair, gentle reader; because before you know it, new leaves will spring up all over this tree once again.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pale Crawler

Many spiders in my part of the world come out in droves as the weather turns cooler.  Maybe it's their last gasp before winter sets in.  I found this little pale spider hiding in the crevice of some tree bark.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Big Cups

Tater was watching TV when a commercial came on with a rather buxom girl carrying two huge mugs of beer in each hand.  Tater says, "Geez!  Look at the size of those cups!"

Sunday, November 25, 2012

White Lion Tribal Mask

The face of this mask is made entirely of polymer clay using faux wood and faux ivory techniques.  Slots were cut around the base of the mask to accommodate real leather cutouts.  It was a long and winding road to get to this destination.  I hope you like it.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Mane Slots

Well, I finally, finally got the slots cut into the mane of my lion mask.  I used a small drill bit in my Dremel tool.  This left a rough finish, but that was all smoothed out with several grits of sandpaper.  Check back tomorrow as this puppy (or in this case, kitty) should be finished.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lion Face

The polymer clay part of the mask is finished except for cutting out the slots for the mane.  And that task may be a challenge.  I have a Dremel bit that I thought would cut slots into the clay, but unless I get 10 to 20 in a jail cell, there is not enough time for that process.  There has to be a way to accomplish this and I will figure it out.  Also, the mask will have some very light color rubbed into it and baked again.


Monday, November 19, 2012

My...What a cool nose you have!

The nose of my lion mask has to be made before the rest of the mask so it can be pushed into the soft clay.  When they are baked together, the nose and mask will be welded together.  The nose and lip are supposed to resemble dark wood.  Here is the mold and final sculpt of the tip of the nose.  It still needs to be removed from the rest of the clay.  Normally, I would cut it free while it's still soft, but I didn't want the shape altered.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Orange Lily

While driving by a roadside rest stop in Smyrna, Delaware, I spotted this gorgeous flower.  I made a U-turn to get back to the rest stop and took several shots of it.  Luckily, I had my camera because my son and I were in the area to take photos at a wildlife refuge.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Tulip Blossom

For my friends following the progress of my White Lion Tribal Mask, work will resume again on Monday.  In the mean time, here is a flower from a Tulip tree that I took a few months ago.  And make sure to check in again tomorrow for an absolutely gorgeous orange Lily.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Leather Cutouts

Cutting out the leather pieces for the lion's mane was not as tough as I thought it was going to be.  It helps to have a nice big pair of Fiskars scissors.  I still had dents in my fingers when the job was done.  The mane patterns were copied and taped to pieces of white leather.  I bought an extra box of X-Acto blades for the leather cutting, but the scissors worked so well, the blades were never used.  A person can never have too many X-Acto blades.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mane Patterns

One of the more challenging aspects of this tribal mask is designing the lion's mane.  If you look at my other lion masks, you will see that the mane on each one consists of cord or wire going in and out of holes drilled into the base of the mask.  This one will have leather cutouts coming out of slots around the base of the mask.

The mask will be marked around the base using these brass markers while the polymer clay is still soft.

The brass markers produced the imprint designs shown here.

The imprints were measured using a string to get the base length of each marker.  The length of each marker becomes the base of each mane pattern.  Confusing, I know.

This is the approximate shape of the mane and used as a guide to design the mane patterns.

There are a total of 12 mane patterns.  The base of each pattern starts 10mm inside the perimeter of the mask.  As each pattern comes out of its' slot in the mask, it flares out on each side and ends on the mane guide line.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dummy Support

Everyone needs support, even dummies.  No, that's not what this is about.  I made a dummy lion mask. This accomplishes two things: One, it gives me an opportunity to try out the lion mold.  And two, I need a support for the final mask while it is still soft and being worked on.  As you can see in the photo,  the mask does not pop out of the mold to perfection.  It doesn't help when you drop it (see the dent above the right eye).  The final mask will need to be tweaked a little.  The faux ivory mask will need support when it comes out of the mold and that little mound in the photo should be a perfect fit.  It was made from the inside of the dummy mask and then slightly reshaped and smoothed out.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Little Dragon

I took a couple days off working on my lion mask because we had a birthday party for my dad who is celebrating number 80!  Wow.  Anywho, check out this little Bearded Dragon.  I took this pic at the pet shop with my Samsung Galaxy phone.  Don't leave home without it!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

French Creek Panorama

Autumn color is slipping away from our area and the icy grip of winter is waiting right around the corner.  I took this shot a couple weeks ago at French Creek State Park in Pennsylvania.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Mane Markers

The easiest way to describe this step is to show it rather than tell it.  The mane on this lion mask is really the focal point of the new design.  The mask will not have holes for leather cord or shoestrings to simulate the mane.  Slots will be made around the perimeter of the mask and cut leather pieces will come out of the slots.

I went around the perimeter of the sculpt to mark where I wanted the leather mane pieces to be.  Every mark overlaps so there should be no gaps in the mane.

Using sizing rods, I bent brass strips to match the marks around the base of the mask.

Here are the mane markers cut and ready to use.  They will be pressed into the polymer clay mask before baking.  They are just for marking the slots and will not be pushed all the way in.  I have a Dremel bit to cut the slots once the mask is baked.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Lion Mold

Here is my lion mold (or mould as it's spelled in other parts of the world).  I would love to make lots of tribal masks but it is a slow process.  One of the ways to speed up that process is to be able to vacuum form my molds.  I'm looking into making a vacuum form table.  There are several plans for that on the internet that involve a home oven and a shopvac.  For now, polymer clay is the way to go.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Lion Sculpt

Here is my sculpt for the lion mask.  To me, it has more of a tribal mask look to it than many of my previous attempts.  Originally, it was about a half inch shallower (is that a word?) and I wanted to add some depth to it.  So I added half an inch to the base and rebaked it.  The second bake produced cracks around the base and down the right side of the nose.  I filled the cracks around the base and baked it a third time.  This should work out fine for the mold.
See the slight burn on the nose?  I left it in the oven a little too long.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

One More Time

I've tried making a lion mask many, many times.  I've done well over a dozen sculpts, and even though a couple made it to the finished product, I was never really completely happy with them.  I have this great vision of what this mask will look like and so I'm taking a stab at a really awesome lion mask one more time.  This mask is many times bigger than the other ones.  It is not going to be a pendant.  This lion mask will be a display piece, home decor.
Here, along with the drawing, is a stencil for the mask.  It keeps the elements of the mask in scale while I'm sculpting.  It also has the tip of the nose and mouth that will only be molded from the colored clay and placed directly on the mask.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cloud Reflections

I took quite a few photos at French Creek State Park in Pennsylvania.  Here is another one of them with nice foliage colors and some pretty cool cloud reflections.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Not the bad word.  It's a beaver dam on the edge of the pond at French Creek SP.  It's starting to flood some of the wooded areas.  A group of three women were trying to navigate their way around the dam when one of them slipped on a log and took a nasty fall.  I think she will be okay, but I'm sure she was hurting the next morning.  I think she said "damn" as she was going down!

Saturday, November 3, 2012


This is a photo of a Fruit Weevil.  There are many types of weevils and one of the things they all have in common is the long snout.

While looking for something to photograph, I thought I had spotted a weevil of some sort.  When I got home to look at my weevil photo, I discovered it was a piece of loose bark.  Time to make an appointment with my eye doctor.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Autumn Reflections

A couple weeks ago, Tater and I visited French Creek State Park in Pennsylvania.  The leaves were almost at their best and here is one of the photos we took.  I say "we" because Tater has shown some interest in taking pics also.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Look! Up In The Sky!

Look!  Up in the sky!  At least it's not another storm.  It's Superman...or Superboy...or super cute...or super something.  Anyway, everything is Inkscape vectors, including the sky and clouds.