Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sculpey 2009

This is the New Year email card I sent out to friends and clients this year, and I thought I'd put it up on this blog to start the new year off with a little Sculpey.

Sculpey is my 'recreational' art form-- I have been working with it for about 12 years, and find it very fun. The best are the colors that you can mix-- it's such a good feeling to take chunks of raw Sculpey, mix them in your hands, and see a new color emerge. For anyone who mixes paint, this is an exciting tactile experience! It's also satisfying to me mix subtle or moody colors out of the very bright raw materials.

These Sculpey lions were made for two people whom I love and admire very much, to stand by and watch over them during cancer treatment. The one in the background was named "Chemo-sabie" by its recipient, and one in the foreground was named "Chemo-simba", as a brilliant riff on the other one's name, by its recipient.

I love creating characters in 3D, and while I haven't yet used Sculpey for any stop-motion animation work, one of my hopes for 2009 is to make that happen.
(Here's a link to my stop-motion heroes, Aardman.)

There is a good resource on the Sculpey site, called Sculpey 101 which I recommend checking out. To supplement, here are some things that I have learned from using Sculpey over the years:

-While Sculpey is non-toxic, I suggest getting a dedicated toaster oven from a garage sale for baking it, and not using your kitchen oven. Also too, you can get a mini-pyrex casserole dish for the oven's tray, to use instead of the metal one that might come with.

-Always underbake your Sculpey-- I find that when you bake it until it is brittle, it will break that much sooner. Take your Sculpey out of the oven before you think it is done. It will continue to bake/harden after you remove it, with the heat it has taken in.

-If your Sculpey creation is to stand, make sure you place it as you want it to stand, on the baking tray.

-You can coat your Sculpey with clear nail polish, or Sculpey brand's clear fixative.
This does seem to make the pieces last longer. I haven't discovered a matte finish, but am sure there are products out there.

-If you are mailing Sculpey to a friend, go overboard with packing. There is nothing sadder than your recipient telling you they opened your package only to discover your loving gift, dismembered.

-And finally, if you are an artist who is used to 2D, I highly recommend getting yourself some Sculpey for exploring the next dimension. I now bring Sculpey to my Animation class at Parsons- once the students have settled on their character designs in their sketchbooks, we make them in Sculpey. This process is valuable for getting to know their characters even more, and then they have a little pal to place next to the Computer for inspiration, when working.