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Trying Out Air Dry Clay

Hello, nice to see you again.

Today’s video was more of a chat while you watched over my shoulder while I crafted; it was in no way a tutorial since I was trying to sculpt with air dry clay for the first time and I don’t feel qualified to advice anyone on it.

The clay I used is FIMO Basic Air and there was no other reason for using this clay than just the sheer curiosity to see how it behaves and how it’s different from polymer clay and of course, to find out what I am able to do with it.

I did like using this clay, it felt nice on my hands…it can be a mess compared to polymer clay but I actually found it very liberating, because with polymer clay I’m always paying too much attention to keeping the clay and my tools clean; I wash my hands a lot and I wipe my surfaces countless times, so it’s nice not to have to worry about that for a change.

I’m used to taking my time and enjoying the process when I work with polymer clay, so using air dry clay definitely made me speed up or not worry about details. Also, because my pack of clay was already opened and had been sitting in an air tight box for a couple of years actually, it was still pliable, but I had to knead it with a bit of water before adding it to the tin foil structure, so it was easier to work with and to blend it to the clay that was already there.

The toadstool and caterpillar design has been on my mind for a long time…it’s just one of those things that I dream about and that I keep on my list for so long that I either don’t find the time or the right moment to really sit down and do it…or perhaps as I let the thought loose slightly and the initial excitement dies down a bit, other things push their way to the front and suddenly become priorities. So, I decided that the day had come to bring this idea to life and to get that block of air dry clay out and do something with it.

I would like to make a polymer clay version of this sculpture and see how different they would be, and to see if I’m right in thinking that the polymer clay version would be a lot more detailed than this one.

I imagine the polymer clay one to, not only be more detailed, but to tell more of a story. I feel like this one doesn’t tell much of a story, it’s just a caterpillar sitting on a toadstool, that’s it. It doesn’t tell anything, in my opinion. I think that’s because the polymer clay version would have a lot more of my personality in it; the caterpillar would have a face and it would be sitting up instead of crawling; the mushroom would have different colours and it would look more magical. I did imagine that once it was finished, it was going to feel as if we, the spectators, were Alice and we were talking to the caterpillar. I did think about sculpting Alice next to the mushroom, but then I thought no…I would like everyone that sees this sculpture or that interacts with this sculpture, whether it is personally because they bought it, or through a video or photograph, to feel as if we are the Alice character and we are interacting with the caterpillar, whoever the caterpillar is in your mind, you know, whoever you want the caterpillar to be, you can choose…and if the caterpillar were this really wise being and you could ask him anything, what would you want to know from the caterpillar? If he could answer one question, just one…what would you want to know the most?

I noticed that the area underneath the caterpillar had started to crack and as I went to inspect I snapped the caterpillar off...oops; I patched up the crack with wet clay and tried to smooth the whole thing down. Then I placed the caterpillar on top using more clay on the belly of the caterpillar and trying to blend to clay both to the body and the mushroom underneath.

I let it dry for a bit and then added all the feet, I may have added more of those bumps on the mushroom and then I just let it dry for like 2 days because I wanted to make sure it was completely dry before I painted it, because I didn’t want the caterpillar to go wandering off again.

I used acrylic paints, nothing fancy. I only watered down some brown paint to colour the underside of the mushroom, everywhere else is just paint because I didn’t want to add extra moisture unnecessarily.

I gave the mushroom a gradient effect; I applied a light terracotta or orangey shade to the edge and gradually added more red the closer I got to the top, where I used dark red.

I found that because of the porous nature of this clay, the paint, whether it’s watered down or not, was streaky on the clay, but other than that it was very straight forward to paint.

I felt like I didn’t have a lot of control over this type of clay. If it had been polymer clay, I could have baked the structure at different stages and paint it at different stages as well, which would have allowed me to get a neater finish. Also, painting the caterpillar was very uncomfortable because I had to hold the mushroom at awkward angles to get the brush on the belly of the caterpillar.

What I liked about working with this type of clay is that you don’t have to get up so many times to bake it, wait for it to bake and cool down and stuff like that, and the look of it is a lot more rustic, because at least I couldn’t go too small when sculpting details because the clay can be very fragile and I didn’t want to end up knocking all these pieces off, so I went for really chunky decorations like the grass and the caterpillar. So it does look a bit more rustic and chunky and it’s a nice look, maybe not my preferred look, but it does the job if rustic is what you’re going for.

Still, I didn’t take the making of this sculpture too seriously, I allowed myself a bit of freedom and margin for error, you know…to make lots of mistakes…to see the good and the bad...

I did have my doubts about what colours to paint it. Initially, I wanted to paint it bronze…then I changed my mind and I almost painted it gold, then I changed my mind again because that's what I'm like; I wanted something a bit more visual, so I went for the full colour combination.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but I think polymer clay stays my preferred least for now.

You can watch my tutorial below:

Bless you for reading and I'll catch you next time,



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