Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Valentine's Day Sleepy Fairy Baby Part 1

I am honored to be a team leader on the PCEteam on Etsy (Polymer Clay Enthusiasts)
Every month we have a ‘challenge’ to sculpt something unique and beyond. This month’s challenge theme is Valentine’s Day, and so I have embarked on the journey of a Sleepy Baby Valentine Fairy

Alas I embarked with a dead camera battery, so the first few steps will be left to imagination.

2 quick comments before I begin
1 – I had my camera on a bad setting so please excuse the blurry photos. I promise the final photos will be sharp and clear
2 – Since many steps are similar to my previous Sculpt-n-blogs, I will skim through them. You can read about them in detail for my Christmas Elf

The Plan:

This fairy was going to be a ‘big’ baby compared to some of my recent baby sculptures. I drew a 3.5 inch tall sketch with proportional body parts for size reference.

Tools and Material

The fairy itself will be sculpted using my mixture of Sculpey Living Doll, Original Sculpey, and Premo polymer clay, all in light-flesh tones. Instead of pre-measuring the clay, I prepared 5-6 ounces of mix to ensure I had enough (I hate measuring just to run out at the end)
I prepared 17 gauge wire and aluminum foil for the body armature, and thinner yet ‘harder’ wire for the hands.
I grabbed my Favorite Tools, cleaned my work space, and got lost in fantasy land

The Armature:

Since my fairy is seated I created an armature (internal skeleton) for the head and body only. I took a length of thick wire, created a loop for the head, and covered it in foil forming an egg-shape slightly smaller than my sketch.
I covered the foil in clay, then began sculpting the facial details one at a time, fixing and tweaking as needed (while my camera battery was charging)

The body:

I covered the lower portion of the armature with enough foil to create the torso of the fairy. At this point I wasn’t sure if the fairy would be clothed or nude, so I left the torso simple and un-detailed.

The Legs:

Baby legs are trickier than adult legs to sculpt since they have more detail in less area. I started with a basic ‘log’ shape bent at the bottom for the heel and foot. I smoothed the tip to a boot shape, and then trimmed the bottom to allow for individual attachment of toes.
Each toe was formed from a tiny ball of clay, slightly elongated, then carefully attached and blended into the foot. I regret that the photos are fuzzy but will do another baby with better photos after this one.

Once the toes were attached I shaped the arch, and then added little wrinkles and joint creases using a thin needle tool.
I measured the foot against my sketch, of course the toes were slightly larger - my sculptures always ‘grow’ bigger than the original sketched plans. I marked the knee area, bent the leg slightly, and shaped the calves. I attached the legs, one on the side, the other facing up.
I blended the thigh area, added some clay to form the buttocks then set it to rest. I contemplated adding a little floral skirt, but she looked ridiculous, so I went with a nude baby.

Adding ‘chub’

I like sculpting nude fairies, partly because I have no sense of dress style, and party because I find the details to make them more ‘realistic’
Just like humans, fairy sculptures get ‘chubby’ off pancakes :) clay pancakes that is.
A clay pancake is a flattened ball of clay added to the sculpture and blended in to smooth the seams. I added a large pancake to the belly, and another to the nether region. I added a number of smaller pancakes to the inner and outer thigh and buttock region, until the baby looked sufficiently chubby.

Anatomical Details

My baby is real to me, which means she has to be ‘anatomically correct’. Different artists will translate this term differently, but it usually means genitalia. I also gave her a nice popping belly button and chubby chest.


The hands, like the legs, began with a thin ‘log’ of clay. I squeezed the ends between my fingers created a small palm and wrist.
The fingers, like the toes were each sculpted individually from a tiny ball of clay, then attached and blended into the palms. I pushed each finger towards the palm to make them chubbier.

I added a large pancake to each arm to allow for extra chubbiness, then formed a rough elbow and forearm. I say ‘rough’ because I was about to butcher them.
I positioned each arm to see how it would look once attached and to get a feel for the angles. Since the arms are up in the air rather than resting on the legs, they risk sagging and breaking off. To prevent this I prepared 2 very strong wire armatures to help hold the hands up.
I positioned each wire over the back of the hand, bent them to the shape of the hand, and bent the protruding tip to allow for attaching to the fairy body.
I pressed the wire onto the hand to get an imprint, and then cut a deep groove into each hand. Each wire was inserted into the groove, and the clay smoothed over.

Using a strong needle I poked a hole in the body armature where the arms would go. Each arm was inserted, and the clay smoothed to ensure a proper fit. I added additional pancakes to the shoulders and back.

The Ears

With all the manhandling out of the way (poor baby is subjected to dizzying movement during sculpture) it was safe to add ears. I shaped a very large teardrop for each ear and attached to each side of the head. Poor little fairy looks like a pouty troll, though a cute pouty troll in my opinion.
I debated skipping the wings and turning her into a troll but was talked out of it. I would normally bake the sculpture at this point, but past sculptures have taught me to complete the wings prior to baking so that alterations and accommodations can be made in terms of wing-insert positioning, weight and support.

Stay tuned for part 2 where I will create wings using Angelina (fusible) Film, glitter and more
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  1. 0_o

    wow that looks like a lot of work! The detailing is stupendous Leah!!!!!

  2. That is a lot of work! And definitely a unique item!

  3. You are just sooo talented :)

  4. I love how you showed the process of making this little guy - Amazing!!

  5. Wow, your detailing is unbelievable. Love seeing the process and then the end result. Great work!

  6. I am soooo not creative so this has been a learning experience for me. You are a great teacher!

  7. uniquecozytreasures- What a cool tutorial! You are so talented and patient!

  8. Very very creative and nice! Great tutorial. Awesome work!

    Krystal - http://bellystickers.blogspot.com/
    Following from promotional frenzy

  9. What an interesting process. Thanks for sharing :)

  10. I think what you do is really awesome! The detailing for your work is so precise....I'm always amazed when I view your work!

  11. This is fantastic Leah, awesome detail work! Thanks for sharing your step by step!