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:
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
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!