When I am not sculpting fairies or dragons, sculpting birds is another favorite endeavor. I was selling on etsy last year so several of my bird sculptures made their first appearance on my old shop “Martins Mythical art”.
My favorite project was a pileated woodpecker, the first piece of a bird series I was working on. I was using a new clay at the time, a two-part epoxy medium called smooth on. The clay gives amazing results but it is very difficult to work with, since it requires moisture. Once kneaded into little balls, the clay is left to cure for a bout thirty minutes before it can be shaped effectively.
Sculpting primarily with polymer clays, working with smooth-on was a challenge. I used a homemade tinfoil armature with the shape of the bird, then added clay to this and sculpted while adding little bits of material at a time.
The base of my bird was made from recycled wood, a similar block was used for the stump that would be the woodpecker’s perch. In order to secure the bird figure firmly to the stump, I used craft-wire, which also became the legs and ran deep into the tinfoil armature.
Satisfied that my sculpture was firmly attached, I began the process of sculpting from the base up. I worked the stump details extensively with a Popsicle stick and toothpick until I reached the preferred texture. My stump was full of gnarls and cragginess, and the clay was holding detail beautifully.
I admit I was nervous about this project.I needed listings to stock the online store and I wasn’t sure about the medium I was working with. I found that having plenty of water around to wet tools and fingers was the key, so I kept working. Green stuff sculpting clay, like all epoxy clays is very sticky, so I used this to shape the beak and the legs. The green stuff served to further cement the sculpture to its base.
Finally, the sculpture was ready for paint. And that is where my air brush came in. After a base coat of black, I finished painting the figure by hand with a brush.
The stump required a couple of washes with brown ink, and I added a wash of black ink to the acrylic paint for a richer color. I couldn’t leave the base empty though, I sculpted tiny mushrooms and shelf fungi for the stump.
Just a sprinkle of colored saw dust and craft moss for foliage and I was done. The work took about ten hours over two days. The sculpt sold on etsy within a short time and I received a picture of the figure on my client’s office desk. That gesture meant the world to me, a satisfaction that comes from knowing someone appreciates your work.
So, I continue to sculpt birds a couple have ended up in my current shops, waiting for good homes. The penguin is one of those pieces waiting for a home, while the toucan already found it.
Thanks for reading.