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scratch dino models
So many people requested this I thought I'd just post it. Below are my
basic instructions on how to make armature sculpty (oven bake polymer
clay) dino models.
1) Sculpty model compound. Buy the type that is pinkish in color and comes
in brick size blocks, not the little 1"x1" colored cubes. It costs about
$10 a brick, and the amount you need depends on the size of your model.
One brick is usually enough.
2) Tons of pictures of the dinosaur you are making. The more the better.
Also, drawings of the skeleton are very helpful.
3) Armature wire. This is very flexible, easy to bend wire. Don't
try to use clothes hanger wire. Gauge depends on the size of your model.
4) Various sculpting tools you desire. Ex-acto knifes, sandpaper, wooden
pottery tools, and pieces of dowel are suggestions.
5) Tin foil. Buy a nice thick roll.
6) Super glue.
7) Paints (acrylic), brushes or an airbrush and something to mount the
sculpture on, if desired. Tiny glass eyes can be ordered through mail
order companies that sell supplies for dead animal stuffing/mounting.
The hardest part is picking your dino. The second hardest part is choosing
the right pose. You may want to try a few sketches first. Try to remember
that the dino will need to be balanced and supported on the legs. An
animal on one leg may not be the best choice for your first attempt. Also,
you will be limited by the size of the model. The *entire* model must fit
into your home oven.
Before you begin, use your drawings to get an idea of the proper scale and
measure of the body, tail, legs, etc. Start with the tin foil. Create
a rough shape of the main body of the dino. You will be building clay
on top of this, so make it slightly smaller than the finished body.
Try to make it as close to the basic shape of the body as possible.
Next is the armature wire. The wire will act as the frame for the legs,
neck and tail. Cut the wire so you will have enough for both legs on
either side of the body, enough to go through the body, and about 2" extra.
Jam the wire through at the appropriate location, and bend the legs in
reference to your scale measures. Repeat for the next pair of legs. For
the neck and tail, cut the wire so you have enough for the head and tail
plus enough to go through the body. Push through the foil and bend.
BUILDING UP WITH CLAY
When you are done bending your model and the armature is to your
satisfaction, you can start covering it with the clay. If you have never
worked with this clay before, here are a few tips: 1) Always wrap the clay
when not in use 2) If it gets too soft when you are working with it, it can be
refrigerated until firm. 3) beware of long exposure to fumes when baking.
Open some windows. 4) NEVER overbake! We will be working with thin layers,
so don't follow the instructions on the package. Bake at a lower temp.
then suggested for a shorter time. You know it is done when it does not
give off a dense sound when tapped AFTER it has cooled.
First secure the legs and head/tail wires with blobs of clay. Lay the dino
in the oven and bake. You may then want to cover the entire tin foil
body with a thin layer of clay. Bake. After it is cooled (The wires will be
HOT!) you can begin to build up muscles, they way they would look *with*
the skin. Look at your photos to see how muscles are shaped and were they
Bake whenever you are happy with a section and don't want to mess it up.
Remember we are baking and rebaking the clay, so do this as often as necessary.
One note here about rebaking clay: it may crack. Fill the cracks with
super glue or more clay and continue. Finish the head, details and feet last.
The idea here is not to have to carve the model, but you can carve the
baked clay with an ex-acto knife if you want to remove some.
When you are done with the above and it has been baked, you can add some skin
texture. I suggest you make a stamp to do this. Using a small piece of
dowel, carve out a few small patterns. Lay down a thin layer of clay and
gently press the stamp into it. Experiment with different stamps. Leather,
cloth and other textured items can also be pressed into clay. Bake whenever
you are happy with a section, like the body.
After you think you are happy with your model, paint. Airbrushes are good,
but hand brushes work well, too. Consider making a mounting platform. Buy
a wooden plaque blank (or make one) and stain it. Drill holes in the
bottom and insert the extra wire that we left on the legs to secure.
Trim the wire if needed. Fill the holes with epoxy or glue.
That's pretty much it. Be creative and have fun!
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Sherry Michael "The scientific point of view is
Philadelphia Academy of that every phenomenon is in
Natural Sciences nature and part of it"
Teacher/naturalist -Albert Kroeber