01 July 2015

The Clangers in Clay: Clangers' planet

Today I'm starting a series of posts which will continue through the rest of this month and will show you how to make your very own Clangers scene from polymer clay! I'm starting today with the base which the figures will sit on - the Clangers' planet.

Here's a little video showing the completed scene:
video

The Clangers was one of the first TV shows I ever watched, and is one of those childhood shows that I remember with great fondness and nostalgia. I was worried when I heard that the BBC was planning a remake of the show, having seen other remakes which changed childhood shows beyond all recognition. But I needn't have worried! This is not some fancy modern CGI remake, instead it has retained the original hand-craftedness of the characters and sets, and still uses the traditional technique of stop-motion animation. Michael Palin's narration is spot on, and the show has kept its original charm. As a die-hard fan of the original series, I was going to be hard to please, but the show is every bit as good as the original and I'm glad that it's being brought to a new audience (and delighted that it's come along at the right time for my young nephew!).
Over the course of July I'll be showing you all the techniques I used to make my Clangers scene. Please remember that this is an ornament for nostalgic adults or older children - it's not a toy as it has many small and breakable parts. If you did want to make it for a young child's room, I'd recommend gluing the pieces together and mounting the scene in a box frame which could hang on the wall.
To make the Clangers' planet you'll need:
  • Polymer clay (e.g. Fimo or Sculpey) in grey. I used various different shades and textures, which I'll explain below, but you could use a plain grey if you want to keep it simple. I used silver for the lids, but you could use grey for these and paint them.
  • Something circular e.g. a fat pen lid, brush handle, or small bottle.
Also useful but not essential would be:
  • A ball-shaped clay tool or embossing tool
  • Varnish
Let's get started! There are a lot of steps here, but it is actually very easy!

1. If you are using more than one colour of clay, marble them together until you are happy with the effect. I used various colours of clay to make the planet - it was mainly Black Granite Sculpey (which has a fantastic grain running through it) with a little Anthracite Fimo (which gives a lovely sparkle) and any loose bits of grey or black clay I had hanging about left over from other projects. I didn't completely mix them, but left some marbled lines running through for interest.
2. Flatten the clay out into a very rough circle on a tile. It should be a bit lumpy on top and round the edges to give the effect we are looking for here, so don't try to make it perfect!
3. Run a finger gently over the surface of the clay until it has a smooth buffed appearance and any fingerprints have disappeared.
4. Dampen the end of your circular object (lid, handle or bottle), place it on on one of the more raised areas and press it down slightly.
5. Using a ball tool or your fingers, press the clay around this upwards and inwards, to create the crater shape.
6. Twist the object and pull it out of the indentation. If the area under it has been disturbed, use the clay tool or your fingers to flatten it back down. Make more craters if you like, of various sizes!
7. Bake the clay according to the manufacturer's instructions. If you've mixed brands of clay, try to average the temperatures and times given on the packets.

8. Once it has cooled, give it a buff with a soft cloth or a thin coat of a suitable varnish (I use Johnson's Klear floor polish!).
Right! That's the base planet made, but the Clangers need some lids for their caves! Here's how to make them:

1. Make small circles of silver or grey clay, the same size as the end of your circular object.

2. Roll a small snake of the same clay, flatten it and fold it, and attach as a handle.
3. You can use a slightly smaller pen lid to make an indentation around the edge.
4. Bake the clay, then check it fits in the crater - you can sand the edges if it doesn't!
I hope you've enjoyed seeing how to make a Clangers' planet (it could be used for other scenes too, for example with some Lego spacemen, or a Little Prince made from clay!). Come back this time next week, when I'll be bringing you the next part of this series on making a Clangers scene!



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30 June 2015

This month on emuse

This month has mostly been about photography! I started a new feature, Sunday self-portraits, with some 1940s style photos, followed by some in a French sailor style and some Pretty in Purple ones after I'd had a makeover.
I also combined photography with getting out and about, starting with my days at Spa in the City (week 1 and week 2 and free stuff) and Hidden Door, a walk at Ravenscraig Park in Kirkcaldy, a visit to see the Outlander set in Dysart, and the Rob Roy re-enactment event at Falkland Palace. I had an evening at local business Love Restored. And I had a "shooting from the hip" challenge while walking around my own neighbourhood.

Another new feature this month was My collections, which I started with a look at my Japanese dolls.

I showed you a few cards that I'd made:
There were some other craft related posts:

And a couple of thrifted items:

29 June 2015

This month I have been mostly...


Visiting:
I went to Edinburgh early in the month, where I visited the Edinburgh College of Art degree show, the Pringle exhibition at the museum, had lunch at the Mosque Kitchen, and got my makeup done at the Urban Decay counter. The next day I went to a Jacobite re-enactment at Falkland Palace. And I spent a lovely evening at local shop Love Restored.

Watching:
Danish drama 1864, The Truth about your Teeth on BBC1, The Musketeers which my Mum has got on DVD, and, of course, the new series of The Clangers! Which might just be inspiring some craft projects soon, stay tuned for that!

Studying:
I've just finished the TUC Health and Safety Reps Stage 1 course.

Listening to:
I bought Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance by Belle and Sebastian, so I've been listening to that whenever I can convince myself to take God Help the Girl out of the CD player in the car! I've also got a bit hooked on Cambodian Space Project after watching a documentary about them.

28 June 2015

Sunday self-portraits: Pretty in Purple

One of my freebies from Spa in the City was a makeover at the Urban Decay counter in Debenhams, so a few weeks later I headed off there!
Having a makeover at a makeup counter was something I've wanted to do for ages. I did get my eye makeup done at Benefit a few weeks beforehand, also as part of Spa in the City, but I felt that it was a bit rushed and didn't create as bold a look as I'd been hoping for.
I was pleased to find out that it was the same lady I'd seen doing the demonstration at Spa in the City who was going to be the one doing my makeup. She asked me what sort of look I wanted, and I really felt that she listened to me and took on board everything I said. She asked lots of questions about what sort of makeup I like to use, and kept stopping to check that I was satisfied with what she was doing.

I wanted a smokey purple eye makeup look, and luckily there was a picture on the counter that was exactly what I was looking for, so I was able to show her what I wanted. I was still a bit nervous that it would either turn out not bold enough, like my previous experience, or a bit bolder than I wanted (her own makeup was purple and blue with glitter, which worked well with her skin tone but would have been too much for me). In the end I was absolutely delighted - she got it exactly right!
I got a glass of champagne while I was having my makeup done, and a voucher to go back another time. And I didn't ever feel pressured to buy any of the products, although I did buy a brush that I had wanted anyway.
I took photos of my look once I got home. By then the lipstick had worn off, so I decided to add some purple lipstick to match!

27 June 2015

Falkland Palace Rob Roy weekend

Sunny Sundays are my favourite time to visit nearby Falkland, so earlier this month when I heard that there was an interesting event happening at Falkland Palace, and the weather was lovely, I had to head up there!
The event was the Rob Roy Jacobite weekend, marking 300 years since a raid on the palace in 1715. This was the first time I'd ever been to a re-enactment event, and it was a lot of fun! I love photographing people, especially when they are wearing interesting clothing or costumes, so this was the perfect event for me!
I paid for a garden ticket, so I was able to visit the Redcoat camp which was set up at the orchard, but not the Jacobite camps which were inside the palace. I spent some time looking around and taking photos, then I headed to the Keeper's Lawn where there was a skirmish timetabled for 1pm, so that I could find myself a good spot.

The skirmish was a lot of fun to watch and photograph, with lots of bangs and smoke from the guns! Afterwards they gave a talk about the weapons and clothing which was really interesting too!
It was interesting to talk to the people involved in the re-enactment, as they were all very knowledgeable and passionate about history. I also met some other keen photographers.
I continued to explore the gardens for a while afterwards (they were looking beautiful as always), but decided not to stay for the later skirmish at 4pm. I had a great time, and I'm really glad I went!

25 June 2015

Shooting from the hip

As you may remember, earlier this year I set myself a number of photo challenges, and one of these was shooting from the hip. On a lovely evening I set off on a walk around my neighbourhood to try this out!
I gave myself a few rules for this challenge:
1. The camera must be held at the end of its strap, around waist level. I allowed myself to vary the angle, but not the height.
2. I must not use the viewfinder or screen to compose the shot - I had to do it by instinct.
3. I could slow down as I was taking a photo, but not stop or go back to something I'd already passed.
4. I must not look at any of the photos until I got home.
As I walked around, I occasionally saw something of interest, for example a post box or a cat, and would point the camera in the rough direction and press the button.
I was actually amazed with the results of this challenge! They may not be great art, but they are quite special to me. Firstly, it was a real surprise to see what was on the camera when I got home - it was like when you used to collect your prints after having a film developed! Also, I felt that the photos gave a real flavour of the area where I live, because they caught a lot of details that I might not have thought to photograph usually. And there were a lot of unusual compositions that I wouldn't have thought of, with the lower viewpoint and jaunty angles.
Finally, it was a great way of taking photos in places I wouldn't have usually dared to, for example near people's houses where they would perhaps have thought I was being nosy or acting suspiciously (in the past I've had people ask if I'm from the council when I've been out taking photos around the area!).

Now I'm keen to try this challenge in other towns and cities to see what results I get!





24 June 2015

Sashiko coasters


Last week I told you about the class I attended to learn sashiko stitching, and this week I'm ready to show off the finished coasters!
As the backing for the coasters I chose one of the fabrics I brought back from Japan, a brightly coloured and patterned fabric.
I cut the Japanese fabric and placed it and the embroidery right sides together, stitched around most of the way, and clipped the corners. I then turned it out the right way, ironed, and finally top-stitched around the edge.

They're really too pretty for everyday use as coasters, but I might use them when making green tea, or for sitting ornaments on.