Thursday, March 10, 2011

Parrot Tutorial

 Have fun making your own little birdie.  I am teaching a class this month and can't wait to see all the colorful birds that hatch!  I will post pics here after the's not til the 29th of March so come back and visit again to see the results!

The parrots starts out as square of polymer that have been conditioned in the pasta machine and they are fairly equal parts, (approximately one in square)but precision is not important.  I have mixed my colors to get the hues I wanted, but you are ok to use factory colors. 

Next step:  roll each color into a log

Line up the logs until they are almost touching and then cut some off the end so they are equal length.  Make sure to cut off at least a half an inch.  Set these aside because we will use some of these later.

Now, start pushing the logs together vertically until they are stuck together but not too smooshed. The push together from the short end and when it is nice and smooshed together (no gaps) bend in half and roll between your hands to make a ball. it's ok if it doesn't look exactly like this...a lot will be covered up by wings etc. 
Now that you have a ball, decide which end is the head and which is the tail and then roll to make a longer piece and pull out on the middle to create the breast of the bird. 
Push in to make the head and beak...when you are done, you should have something like this.  Its ok if the tail is too long because you can always lop it off later.
I flatten the head and body just a little, so it will lay flat.  This makes it much easier to add a bail or a pin back later.
Next, we will take some of the extra clay in whatever color you want and roll into a ball the size you want the wing to be.  After you get the size figured out, then roll one end into a little point.
It should be in about these proportions
Next, we are going to flatten the wing and gently smoosh it out and bend, shape to look like this. 

Now, we are going to decorate the wing.  I have several tools I like, but in this case, I used the smooth pointy end of a little paint brush.  You can use a metal tool, a tooth pick, or a wooden clay tool.

Here I used the pointy end of the wooden clay tool to make some little scallopy indents in the clay.  There are many ways to do this of course, but in this case, I just kept the clay flat and pushed a little with the stick.
Now we get to cover up all that hard work. Ha ha ha...but you will still see some of it.  Now get a contrasting color should have some left over and make a bunch of tiny little balls.  I turn the wing upside down to add the feathers because it's easier for me to manipulate the tool.  Just make sure you start at the bottom of the wing, or your feathers will end up upside down...not too good for the bird, I'm sure.
To add the feathers simply lay the ball on wing and gently push in while you drag the clay a little bit until it smooshes into the blue.  When you start the next row, some of the mess will get covered never fear, if it gets ragged looking...just keep adding feathers till you get to the top!
Wow.....we made it!  Now you can lay the wing on the bird.
Now we are going to allow the little birdie to see!  The eye is one ball of clay...of contrasting color here...and then you can press a bead or crystal onto the eye.  I am using flat back crystals.  They will need to be glued after the bird is baked.  I press in and leave until after the bird is fired.  That way the it will always fit.  It will easily pop off later on and you can use a little dot of Locktite or superglue to adhere to the eye socket.
If you have shaped a beak you are almost home free now and you can skip this step.! Wow...can this bird talk!!!!    I wanted a little different beak.  This not truely a parrot beak...but I live in a fantasy world, so the beak is great for me!  I just lopped off the blue beak and added a yellow beak.  If you do add a beak, you have to make sure to secure it.  I used a round end tool (like the end of the paint brush we used for the feathers) and just smoosh together. (sorry, no picture for that) 
Here we add some feet.....the better to walk around!

And now we have some leaves and a couple of flowers...feel free to do your own thing.

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