Sunday, December 25, 2011

Working with Scupley

I have been making ornaments for many years. I picked up the craft in the early 1980s "apprenticing" for a woman who made salt-dough ornaments she sold at local shops.  She made dozens of them at a time.  I learned how to make the dough, seal the ornaments and paint on some of the details.  Occasionally I got to watch her create the ornaments.  She made it look so easy!

Typical work area
I started making salt-dough ornaments for Christmas presents for my extended family.  Some of the oldest pieces still survive (which is impressive, because of the seal breaks, salt-dough ornaments turn into mush).  In the mid-1990s I switched from home-made salt-dough to Fimo and Sculpey, at which point my ornaments became smaller and more detailed.  I can see the improvements over the years, as my ornaments become more 3D and my people look a bit more realistic.

I often work in the living room.  I try to keep my area somewhat mobile, so I can stash it all away in a moment's notice.  However, it doesn't take much before clay and tools are all over the place. I sometimes have multiple pieces under varying stages of construction all at the same time.  It can be a mess!

People often ask what kind of tools I use. Mostly, I work with my fingers.  I have some tools for cutting, rolling and the itty-bitty work.  They're fairly basic: a clay press (I used to use a garlic press, but this does a better job), toothpicks, a paring knife, and a couple of clay tools for smoothing out rough spots, adding dimples and attaching ears or other tiny pieces. The press does lovely hair and the pine needles on the wreathes.  Nothing complicated!

Some of my ornaments require a lot of propping to ensure the whole ornament is balanced and straight when it has finished baking. This piece was held up in multiple places by popsicle sticks, mostly to keep the candy-cane portion of it from sagging.

D&D/Fantasy set


My earliest ornaments were all animals, since I found them generally easier to make than people.  When I started making people, it was mostly  men.  Flowing dresses and boobs are difficult!  The first woman I made was unintentionally very well endowed.  It took me several years to get the hang of basic body proportions.

My creations tend towards the whimsical.  Many of my ornaments are based on fairy tales, nursery rhymes or D&D characters.   I have made a few series of ornaments for some people based on a common theme, and they get a new addition each Christmas.

Years ago I made several sets of magnets for a change.  I did some with flowers or fruits and veggies.  I even made a clownfish for my brother-in-law.  Around that time I got a request for wine charms.  Those were fun, but terribly time consuming.  I even did a set of guinea pig wine charms!  You can see more of my creations in my Sculpey Album.

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