This tutorial is going to discuss how to sculpt a polymer clay baby.
This particular sculpture will be a boy and I will be making him entirely out of Staedtler's Fimo: Puppen (rose colour). For this project I am also using my Stainless Steel sculpting tool set, so if you see a tool that you don't recognize, it's because I have designed them myself.
Find out more about these tools here.
You'll also need the sculpture project basics, like an oven, armature wire, masking tape and a photo reference. We'll be completely finishing this project so get a hold of Burnt Umber and Crimson Acrylic Paints as well as some Mohair and Fimo Gel (or Translucent Liquid Sculpey).
I recommend reading through all the steps so you can see where each step leads before starting the project. This really helps to understand the steps. Let's get started on our polymer clay baby. :)
STEP 1: Start by making a basic armature. Since the polymer clay baby will have it's arms and legs tucked up close to the body, we will not need to support them with wire. Puppen Fimo is generally strong enough without support if the limbs are tucked in.
Twist some armature wire (galvanized steel wire will do)so that the wire is doubled up and very study. You want the core of the baby to be strong. Here I've bent up one end of the wire so it doesn't poke me while I sculpt. Always have more than you need, just in case you find you haven't make the body long enough.
For the head, bend a loop into the other end of the wire and scrunch up some aluminum foil over it. Squeeze it as tight as you can so it's completely compacted. It should feel pretty sturdy on the end of the wire. This foil will be the head, so it needs to be round (not a wonky uneven shape) or else it will be difficult to get an accurate looking face. Also, keep in mind that it needs to be small enough so that you can build up the face over it without giving the polymer clay baby a giant head. Allow for another 5mm of clay at least to be added to it.
STEP 2: Now you need to give the clay something to grip to. Polymer clay tends not to grip to aluminum foil very well so it's important that you do this step. If your sculpture has air pockets between the clay and the armature, then your sculpture is likely to crack or get weak spots.
Wrap the aluminum foil completely with masking tape. Try to use a good quality tape as you want it to stick down solidly and not peel up while you are trying to work.
Ensure it's all wrapped tightly.
STEP 3: Now you can start adding some clay. You can choose to spread a thin layer of Translucent Liquid Sculpey over the masking tape like an extra "glue" for the clay, but I find that most of the time it isn't necessary. Condition some clay in your hands and flatten it out like a pancake.
[NOTE: Conditioning your clay means kneading it until it become soft and pliable. You cannot work with polymer clay until you condition it first].
Press it firmly over your baby head armature.
STEP 4: Completely cover the masking tape with clay. The clay should be approximately 3-5mm thickness all over. Do not allow the clay to get too thin in some areas or the clay will be weak in that area and may crack. If you can see the masking tape through the clay then you've applied it too thin. This is also where having a round ball to start with is important. If your armature is an irregular shape, then it will be nearly impossible to have a round clay ball without having the armature sticking through parts of it.
Carefully smooth out the clay, gently dragging your finger or thumb over the surface being sure not to press so hard that you create indentations in the clay.
STEP 5: Now we can add a cheek to our polymer clay baby. Condition a piece of polymer clay and roll it into a dome shape. Apply it to the base of the face, slightly off to one side.
Look at a photo of a baby; their cheeks are much lower on their face than adults and their cheekbones aren't really evident. This is what we will be trying to emulate. Notice that the cheek isn't sticking straight out the side. It's still fairly level with the side of the face.