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Topic: blend the lines?  (Read 1558 times)
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« on: December 17, 2010 12:48:52 PM »

Hi! I'm a beginner working with polymer clay, well a beginner when it comes to wanting to to look professional. I've sculpted many simple things over the years and they were a mess.
I'm making a little 3D bird, about the size of a dime. I started with a head and body and am sculpting the wings but I forgot to add that little bit of feathers Cardinals have on the top of their heads and a beak, so I'm trying to go back and add them but I can' get rid of the lines where the new and old meet and they keep falling off.
Also everytime I try to gently sculpt the wings, I end up messing up the look of the whole bird.
 Its so tiny, how can I work with it?!
How would you go about making a little bird? Thanks for your time!!!

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« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2010 03:53:10 AM »

Did you fire the body and head yet?  When adding unbaked clay to baked stuff there is a really obvious line (as the raw clay is slightly lighter) but once you bake the new addition the line practically disappears if you have smoothed it down well. I would then sand it a bit to remove the last traces but as your bird sounds so small i'm not sure sanding is going to be an option. 

To remove the lines I usually just gently soothe them out with my finger or a tool. It distorts the form a bit but once the line has gone you can then remodel it. Difficult with such a small sculpt though.

As a method for sculpting new parts while not disturbing the old you can make one piece, say the body, bake that bit, and then add the head (or wings or whatever) bake that bit, etc, etc.  This works really well.  So once you have got one part right bake it so it wont distort while you work on the rest.   You will have to plan ahead a bit and make sure the bits you bake are definitely finished and wont need anymore changes. You also have to think about access for the other bits. Sometimes I set the pose of the figure after the whole thing is finished which you cant do if you pre-bake parts. Well you can if you leave joints unbaked but that can be tricky.

I've done a few small sculpts (big to you) that where a couple of inches long and this method worked really well. Before I would sculpt the face, then begin work on the body and by the time the body was ready the face would be really distorted.  Now I bake the parts i can once they are right and definitely wont need any more work.  The last one I did got baked about 8 times.

As for the bits that keep falling of you can use CA glue (super/crazy glue) on raw clay to tack them in place though I have never done this, and you could try that clear liquid clay stuff which I think will help stick. I've never used that either tho. Or perhaps you could use a teeny tiny slither of wood of a match or something as a dowel?

Got to dash, Christmas dinner! Good luck!
Diane B.
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« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2010 08:44:55 AM »

atomicjam gave you a lot of good advice! 

If you want more even info about sculpting with polymer clay in general, making things smooth, adding bits, etc., you might also want to check out these pages at my site for techniques, and sometimes materials to use when doing that (keep in mind that different sculptors often use different techniques as well):
http://glassattic.com/polymer/sculpture.htm ...click esp. on:
...Fingerprints, Smoothing
...More Tips
...probably some of the lessons for larger or more realistic sculpts in the Websites section too
And maybe these pages also:
http://glassattic.com/polymer/sculpting_body_and_tools.htm (esp. Tools)
http://glassattic.com/polymer/heads_masks.htm (Heads & Faces)

Also, personally I don't find that instant glues (cyanoacrylates, "superglues," etc) work all that well for polymer clay (they're primarily for non-porous surfaces that mate exactly in a large enough area and best for resisting "pull-apart" stress), but the liquid polymer clay atomicjam mentioned definitely does (it's not immediately tacky though so must be propped, weighted or clamped while baking till the heat activates it...or you can use the liquid clay along with a dot or line of instant glue just to hold the parts together immediately till the strong liquid clay can take effect). 
You can read more about joining parts, and adhesives for polymer clay, too here on my Glues page:
http://glassattic.com/polymer/glues-Diluent.htm ...click especially on:
...Liquid Clays (there's another whole page just on uses for liquid clays too)
...Some Bonding Techniques

Diane B.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2010 08:47:39 AM by Diane B. » THIS ROCKS   Logged

few of my photos
(had to move them from YahooPhotos, so many now without captions)
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2011 01:38:52 PM »

rather than fully baking one piece, then adding the next, etc. as stated above, you can also try just letting the first piece get cold before moving on to the next. The warmer the clay is the more pliable it is, so it's sometimes easier to add on to a cold piece without distorting it...it might be just enough to get you through the project!

Also, for removing lines, you can try rubbing alcohol (90%)...it will slightly "liquefy" the clay and let you  blend it quite well. Make sure it's completely dry before baking though!
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2011 02:38:35 PM »

Personally I sculpt with a small knife and smooth with ball-ended embossing tools in various sizes.
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