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Archive for January 2014

Sculpting

sculpt2Here are some tips and pointers to sculpting at home. First we’ll look at the different types of sculpting clay available and which is best to use. Afterward we’ll cover how you can get your technique down.

Oil-Based Clay
You can make oil-based modeling clay at home or buy it from an art supply shop. This is best for those who are starting out because it stays soft and workable. If you want to learn how to make your own visit the link here to wiki How. Although this is great practicing clay, it’s harder to do more detailed work with because of its softness.

Polymer-Based Clay
This type of clay contains no clay minerals and is actually close to being plastic due to its chemical composition. This type of clay needs to be kneaded before use to make it more pliable. The type of polymer clay you use should not contain anymore than 0.1% of any of the six phthalates restricted or banned by the safety regulatory boards. This list includes: DEHP (Di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate) DBP (Dibutyl phthalate) BBP (Benzyl butyl phthalate) DINP (Di-isononyl phthalate) DIDP (Di-isodecyl phthalate) DnOP (Di-n-octyl phthalate).

Polymer clay remains workable until it has been fired. Once you have fired your piece it will remain in the shape it was fired in. You can even bake this clay in your household oven. However this clay is prone to cracking.

Potter’s Clay
This is the same type of clay that potters use to make pottery. It is a water based and best suited for hand-molding techniques. This is another type of clay that you can make at home as the clay minerals can be bought and added to water to make the clay.

Once you’ve decided on the type of clay you want to use, you can begin your sculpting. Keep in mind that 3D sculpting can take time to learn. You may want to start out by producing a piece that is supposed to be viewed from one angle, that way you can hide errors and focus on what you want to make.

sculp1Sculpting 101
Test the clay for wetness. Hard clay or drying clay is harder to work with because it is less malleable. Take a small piece of the clay you want to work with and roll it between your fingers creating a small cylinder shape about 10cm long. Afterward take the cylinder and bend it double. If the clay is smooth then it is good to use, if the clay cracks you should add more water to the clay.

Begin with a vision of what you want to create and how the final product will look. You can make sketches and follow the design from there. This will help eliminate frustration and keep you on track. This will also make you conscious of shapes and dimensions in your work.

There are a number of clay sculpting kits you can buy from the art supply store. In your kit you should have a double ended knife, a wipe out tool, ribbon sets, tools for scraping and shaping and a small sponge to help keep the small detailed areas wet if your piece has become time consuming. These tools will take practice to master so go ahead and use them getting a feel for how to hold them and the ways in which they can be used. You can always use your hands too for pinching and scraping.

Avoid protruding shapes in your work. Unless you are using a wire mesh to mold around, these shapes will likely fall off when being fired because the clay will shrink when fired. It is easier to practice using contained shapes to start.

sculptIf you find that you’re not having the success you want you can always sign up for art classes at a local school or studio. Call around and see what’s available. Also get a reference, you don’t want to waste your time or money.

Acrylic Paint Brushes

ID-10010495When using acrylic paints you want to make sure you’re using the right types of brushes. Some brushes are better suited to water color and others are great for oil paints. The difference lies in the type of hair found in the brushes. The more expensive brushes have real animal hair in them. The different types of animal hair are meant for either holding in a good amount of water or holding in a little amount of water.

For acrylic paints you want a brush that blocks color from escaping so that you can brush the paint across the canvas. These types of brushes are known as flat and can contain hog hair, or a mixture of hog and synthetic hair. The flat brush can come in many different shapes and sizes meant for a range of textures and definition.

Although there are many different types of brushes, we will focus on the eight main styles that are generally used with acrylics; flat, round, pointed round, bright, filbert, angular flat, fan, and detail round are the basic brushes you can buy in a kit or separately.

Flat
Flats are very versatile. They’re the types of paint brushes you’ll use the most often. Flats are good for basecoating, floating, strokework, blending, washes and varnishing.

Round and Pointed Round
These types of paint brushes come in many sizes; The smallest being a 20/0 and climbing all the way up to size #10. Mostly they are used for strokework and watercolor. Learning to use this brush for traditional strokework will provide a very strong foundation for all your painting efforts. Strokework is beautiful so mastering it is worth the time and practice.

Bright
Also a part of the Flat family of brushes, the hairs here are much shorter. These types of paint brushes won’t hold enough paint for doing flowing strokes. They are very good though for blending paint, cleaning up messy edges and for other special techniques.

Filbert
When you’re using the filbert you can choose to thin your paint depending on the effect you’re trying to achieve. To get light texture just apply very little pressure. Don’t overload the hairs with paint. The idea is to make sure that the bristles stay apart. These also come in many sizes.

Angular Flat
This is the brush for tight shading and highlighting, it allows you to get into little nooks and crannies. So, if you’re painting a realistic rose, consider trying this brush.

Fan
The fan brush is flat with its bristles widely fanned out. It can be used dry to drag paint lightly across the surface of your painting. It can be used wet to create textures. And dragged through wet glazes it gives a fine wood-grain effect. This is also available in a range of sizes.

Here’s a great video that teaches you how to select the right brush and how to use it.

Acrylic Painting

Making Your Own Pottery at Home

This is a hobby that is not only relaxing, but incredibly rewarding. You can buy the equipment you need second hand or brand new. But the basic equipment that you will need are a pottery throwing wheel, kiln, hand tools and glazes. The hand tools and glazes you may be able to find at a craft store near you, but the pottery wheel and kiln will have to be bought specially from a store or website that specializes in pottery supplies.

First you need to dedicate space in your house for this hobby because you need the space for each item (pottery wheel, kiln, etc). This craft room will also need a sink because pottery is messy. This sink should have a clay trap in the drain, which can be purchased from your local hardware store. Make sure that you always empty the trap into the waste basket so you don’t clog up your sink.

There are also a variety of wheels for differing pottery projects. For example large pots will need a bigger wheel with a larger motor to support the weight of the clay and force of the potter. The size of pottery you intend to make als depends on the size of the kiln you’ll need to purchase. A kiln that is small won’t be able to fit large projects. Kilns are either gas powered or electrical so you will need to consider this in your purchase as well. Ensure that you know how much power the kiln needs to operate or you will blow a fuse when you attempt to use it.

The other pottery tools you will need include: bucket of water, sponge, needle, cutting wire, wooden ribs and rubber scrapper. All these tools should only cost $20 at a crafting store. The largest cost of this hobby will be the pottery wheel and kiln (around $1,500-$4000), but the purchase of clay is relatively cheap, usually $15 for a 25 pound box. Glazes have a variety of prices depending on how much you need to purchase.

After you have your workshop set up and all the proper tools you can begin. Fasten a plaster bat or a rubber bat onto the potter wheel using flattened and wet clay (a clay pancake). Throw a lump of clay the size of a football onto the wheel with enough force to make t stick, then sit down at the wheel and wet your hands. Lean forward and place your hands on either side of the clay.

Then turn the wheel on and begin to center the clay by pressing your hands on either side of the clay, forcing it into a cylindrical shape. Once you’re satisfied that the clay is centered you can begin to create an opening by pressing your thumb down in the middle of the ball. ALways make sure your hands are wet and that you go slowly.

Use your hands to draw the sides of the clay by pressing your wet hands on either side (one on the inside and one on the outside). Move your hands slowly up wards which should raise the sides of the ball. Make sure your hands are wet so the sides of the ball will be uniform.

PotteryDon’t be discouraged if the top of your vessel becomes uneven, this is common in pottery, just take your needle and insert it under the top. Hold it still as the pot turns around it, essentially cutting off the uneven portion, which you can remove and scrap.

When you feel that your pot is finished stop the wheel and remove you bat from the wheel with your pot on it and set it on a shelf to dry until the pot feels leather hard. Be careful moving your pot because too much movement can cause it to cave in on itself. Place a bucket on top of your pot and let it dry for 24 hours, or you can leave it uncovered for a faster drying time. A pot is leather hard when you can use your ribbon tools to scrape away excess clay weight from the bottom of the pot to create a foot. This is the point where the pot will stop shrinking due to water evaporation.

This is also the point where you can put your own decorative finish on the pot using the ribbon to enhance the pot’s shape and design. Be careful with a thick foot on your pot because they can contain an air bubble. This can cause the pot to explode in the kiln as the air expands to escape.

Once you have refined your pot you can now place it in the kiln and fire it. Once it has been fired you can glaze and decorate it.

Hope these tips have been helpful. And if you make fantastic pieces be sure to bring them by the shop!