Polymer clay Santa's

4 santa's made with Polymer clay
Four Santas (so far)
made with Polymer Clay

How To's

Things needed

Instructions http://www.sculpey.com/Projects/projects_WoodenEggSanta.htm
Large wood egg
white floral tape
Elmer's wood glue
Premo or Sculpey III Polymer Clay (beige, white, red, blue, green)
TLS-Translucent Liquid Sculpey (my new best friend)
Clay gun and smallest rectangle plate
exacto knife
needle tool
small seed beads

wooded lrg egg, covered with white floral tape, polymer start Translucent Liquid Sculpey tools of the trade

1)Cover the wooden egg with floral tape. Then a light coating of wood glue. Then follow directions stated in above URL. Santa after first bake.

2)Notice the small bottle with the TLS. This became an absolute necessity. It has four tips that came with it for different amount of flow. You can get said bottle in the area of craft stores where they sell "Tulip" Fabric Paints. I put the TLS in it's new container. This became really important for me. http://www.polymerclayexpress.com/ is where I got the TLS.

3)I put a quarter next to my tools so you can see how small my screw drivers really are. These came in a package of 7, and yes I use almost all. Flat head works for smoothing/blending, roof tiles,etc. and others work for textures. The needle tool is an absolute must! These really don't work well for what they were intended for, but man do they make great clay tools!

curl beard Santa flow of hair finished Santa with bell in hat curly haired Santa

After the first bake. I lasted a total of almost one Santa in following absolute instructions. (in the photo with the 4 Santas. The one up front-on right- with the different colored hat. Ran out of Premo red and used Sculpey III for hat)
Okay, so experimenting started. Image 1, I used the clay gun and smallest rectangle plate. The clay that came out, I sliced in half length ways, then rolled with fingers. After first painting a *thin* layer of TLS on baked clay, and a layer of white clay on top of that. (let set for a bit) Then I did the upper section of beard with the needle tool to lay out texture of beard. Next I placed my curly-Qs, and smoothed/blended with small screwdriver, then retextured with needle tool.

Image 2, follow directions for applying clay. Use needle tool to make a few marks on directional flow of hair. Then, starting from top-direction of flow side, work your needle tool with different pressures, angles, and strokes. Like you might do with a pencil on paper. The reason you start from the side of the directional flow, is because the hair strands will overlap, and have the appearance of individual strands being blown by the wind. Different pressures and angle of strokes will cause individual strands of hair in appearance.

Image 3, is for two reasons. One, I painted *thin* layer of TLS on his sleave, and carefully placed some "wind blown curlies" then melded with beard. This way you can see the jacket through the spaces within the curlies of blowing beard. Two, I put a jingle bell on the end of his pom-pom of hat. Place a small amount of TLS on bell then squish into pom-pom. Do Not premake hole. You need clay to go into hanger/eyelet loop. Then use needle tool to texture pom-pom.

Image 4, was an experiment. Each strand is the width of the smallest rectangle plate of the glue gun. Place a thin layer of white for base to attach strands to. Start from direction of flow side. Attach strand by placing strip, then roll needle tool along top of strand until it blends with base white. I started from the bottom, working my way side to side, and gradually towards the top. Then did my textures from the scalp around crown of head. (This takes patience, and the ability to hold figure by his prebaked arms, and one hand application of strands)

NOTE: Everything with curlies gets baked immediately before you move on to next!!!! (275 for 15-20 min)

Things Learned

Connecting-blending of attachments

Make sure arms, seams, nose, eye lids, etc are well blended-sealed. This is most important for the arms, because I found that they became my one 'hold on to' section. While adding sections, texturing the beard and hair, I found that the arms were the only thing I could hold onto. Also, when the curlies were at their most vulnerable, the arms became the only way to get my Santas out of the oven.

Color of Clays

red is not red Red is not necessarily "Basic Red". The Santa that is done, if you will notice, jacket is Premo red, and his hat and the Santa next to him are done with Sculpey III red. There really isn't anyway to make Premo red-basic red-crayon red, not that I have discovered anyway. Here is where it is important to buy enough to finish project. One package of clay. Premo and Sculpey, did jacket and arms for two Santa's, or one complete Santa. It is also important to understand your colors. Here is where your "color beads", as suggested at www.webhaven.com/crick/colorwebsite2/l color school is very important. Especially if you mix your own secondary colors from basic colors. I found that when using different types of clay, Sculpey III-Premo-Femo, that it was important to establish a color wheel as well. Oh, and don't forget to add 1/8 white to keep your baked clay the same color as unbaked clay. I did with jacket, but forgot with hat. You can see the difference. Especially since they are so close together. It is not a huge difference, but somewhat noticable.

4 santa's made with Polymer clay

TLS-My new best friend

I actually used regular Sculpey for white. Mostly because I have tons of the stuff, and am trying to get rid of it. Here is why TLS is my new best friend. The curlies were so delicate, that after baking some actually crumbled or broke. I even allowed it to cool in the oven before touching. So I experimented, and painted the TLS thickly over all areas of curly hair/beard, let set for a bit, then came back with a clean brush and picked up the excess. I even reattached some curlies that broke off. Let sit for a bit-clean brush-preheat oven to 300. Then baked for 10 minutes. WOW, what a difference! What was once so fragile, now was amazingly strong. In fact one Santa accidentally rolled off the counter-one with curly hair- and dropped to a tiled floor. No breakage. I was thrilled! (mind working for next mad artist experiment.....bottles)
Also, because I don't have the best of history with thick pieces, arms, staying attached, I placed a thin line in crevice of arms against jacket. Here is where I learned the importance of the flow tips. The first one I did straight from my little bottle, but when baked it was too thick and it looks 'Elmer glued'. I couldn't even bake it a 300 for long enough to make it disappear. I used the largest and next to largest flow tip for the rest, and you can't even see it what so ever. I applied TLS this way around all arms, intricate sections and deep crevices of beard and hair.

One note of warning. When attaching the red part of hat, and using TLS, the tip of bottle became really important. The TLS picked up the color of the red clay, and if TLS is too thick it will bleed onto white....and everything else. Which ended up being a good thing when it was smudged on cheeks and nose for a rosey glow, but bad when ending up on baked white sections. HUGE pain to clean!
I used TLS to attach some of the seed eyeballs-Santa ended up with caterachs-foggy/cloudy eyes.
A little goes a long way!

clay base

See the Santa on left side in the back that looks like he is peeking around the Santa in front? I found that when covering the bottom of egg, from the folds/excess of jacket, that it is not so easy to level. It is better to make clay somewhat even then press on flat surface in a rocking motion until Santa stands even.

shaping, textures, wrinkles

I used my needle tool to make wrinkles on forhead and crows feet by the eyes. Using the thicker section of needle tool I made folds on the inside of sleeves. Pressing and pinching the arms gave the Santas more of a tailored look. Smooth with needle tool. Pressing lighter or harder while smoothing also helped in better defining some of texture of the arms. Difference between a crevice and a crease, a fold and a indention, elbow and shoulder, etc. More realisim vs. pieced clay. Also, it is a good thing to have patience, and let wet clay on wet clay set over night before baking. (Where arms attach to body especially)

Hardest Part

The gloves - Making these things consistant in size and in porportion. Practice, practice practice!

Eye lids - take a small-itsy-bitsy-ball of clay smoosh flat, cut in half, and place cut edge of eye lid on the inside of eye. I found it better to do this step *after* you place the eyeballs. Also, shape before you insert. Using needle tool, put piece on tool, so when you insert it you can use tip to attach on inside of eye. If you try to attach, then shape, it makes the outer eyelid too thick or distorted. Better to rip off and start over.

Hat - I found it impossible to follow the directions on the making of the hat from a log/tube of clay. I could never get it big enough to fit on his head. Great technique for other things, but the hat just wasn't working for me. So, I made a circle of clay, approximately 3" in diameter. Then placed center on top of exacto handle, and let droop. Smoothed edges around head, placed white trim around edge of hat, then folded into shape-squishing/conditioning/roll with fingers the top part, or tip of hat. Then position as desired.
I also tried different thicknesses of clay. One I did totally by hand, then worked from setting 1, 3, and 7 on the pasta machine. The thicker ones were easier to attach to head, but the thinner ones were easier to fold and shape. It is debated on which ones look the best.

Well I'm off to be brave and sand these little guys. Nervous as all get out. Next mad artist experiment. Will 'Dremil' electric hand held be too much for delicate areas, get rid of catarachs (foggy eyes), and get rid of finger prints. Not so worried about solid sections. It's the fine delicate sections that have me shaking.
Thes guys are not finished, and I'm still learning. After sanding, then staining, then putting a finsh on them. Neither have I ever done, so wish me luck!

Places to learn-links no clayer should be without

The Glass Attic-http://www.glassattic.com/l
These are enough to get you started. I highly suggest one explores any and all links suggested by these places.
The art available with Polymer Clay is limited by your own imagination.
Go in search of Galleries. There is some really awesome artist!

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