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How to Make a Whimsical Wall Figure

Every inch of Evangeline Times Everything sculpture is carved with details.

A "happy accident" is how Angela Crabtree of South Portland, Maine, describes the birth of her whimsical wall figurines. Back when she was getting a fine arts degree, she took a sculpting class in which the daily task was to quickly mold a figure. In the interest of time, she would instead form a simple object, such as a clock for a head. The concept stuck and she continued making her figurines. One of her favorites is "Evangeline Times Everything," a homage to her soccer-mom aunt whose schedule always keeps her racing with the clock.

Materials and Tools:

terra cotta clay
under glazes
over glazes
various clay tools
carved swirl stamp
small paintbrushes
wire for hanging
rolling pin
square piece of plywood covered with canvas
clay slip
spray bottle with water
paper towels
paper
pencil
needle nose pliers
soft pillow
kiln

Steps:

1. Sketch the desired design on paper.

2. Cut off a rectangular shaped slab of clay approximately 2" x 12".

3. Place the slab onto a canvas surface.

4. Lightly draw the basic figure into the slab of clay with a needle tool.

5. Using the needle tool again, begin to shape the figure by removing excess clay from the edges and by making a slice into the clay to form the legs.

6. Carve away clay or add clay wherever needed in order to form the legs in detail with a needle tool.

7. Form the shoes and socks with carving tools. Add small discs of clay to form saddle shoes. Roll small coils of clay for the laces.

8. For the socks add a small coil of clay just below the knees for the sock trim. Draw vertical lines in both socks to create a pattern with the needle tool.

9. Form the torso and the neck by carving away or adding clay as needed.

10. For the arms coil a piece of clay until it is approximately 8 inches long and about half the thickness of the upper legs. Cut the coil in half to make two arms.

11. Add as much detail as possible around the elbows and forearms.

12. Attach the arms to the figurine by using the scoring method and slip.

13. Add details to the arm and form the fingers with a needle tool.

14. To make the dress use a rolling pin to roll out a slab of clay until it is about 1/4-inch thick and big enough to fit over the surface of the figurine. Lay the slab over the figurine and cut away any excess clay. Once the fit has been established press the clay into the figurine lightly around to the sides and back of the figurine.

15. Add trim to the dress by hand rolling clay coils and placing them on the bottom of the dress, around the arm sleeves and the waist by scoring the clay and using slip to attach.

16. Sculpt the head by using an oval shaped piece of clay and smoothing out the edges. Add a handmade coil to form the clock face and the clock legs and attach them.

17. The bells on the top of the clock are formed by hand rolling two small clay balls and shaping them with your fingers until they resemble half circles. Attach by scoring and adding slip.

18. Attach the head to the body by scoring and slipping. Press with your fingers to smooth the clay out on the front and back of the figurine. Add a few small pieces of clay around the neck to strengthen and shape this area.

19. Stamp press the carved swirl stamp onto the entire dress until a consistent pattern develops.

20. Allow the piece to air dry for a few hours until it reaches a leathery consistency.

21. Turn the figurine over and hold it gently with one hand while cutting out a notch from the back of the clay for hanging with a clay-cutting tool. Lay the figure face up onto the canvas board for drying.

22. The figurine has to dry for approximately a week to 10 days depending on the climate.

23. Bisque-fire the figurine in an electric kiln approximately 3 to 4 hours. Let cool.

24. Glaze the wall figure using small paintbrushes and a variety of glazes. For the clock details use a small paintbrush to very carefully glaze the face of the clock. The shoes also require a small paintbrush.

25. Once the glazing is complete the figurine is ready to be fired for a second time. This time the glaze firing takes approximately 2 to 3 hours. Let cool.

26. Add a wire hook to the back of the wall figure. Lay the figure face side down onto a soft pillow. Form the wire hook with needle nose pliers and attach it to the back of the Evangeline Times Everything whimsical wall figure.

Web site: angelaart.tripod.com/

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