Whimsical Characters — the Rest of the Story
Margene Crossan returns with her new video "Sculpting
Characters." It is her second video for the Master Artisans:
Polymer Clay Series from MindStorm Productions. While her
first video explained how to sculpt faces, this video deals
with body armatures and clothing as well as faces made from
Having a veteran of Mattel, Disney and other movie studio
model shops teach this lesson will be a real treat for polymer
clay sculptors. Whether you specialize in human figures or
not, just watching Margene work with and talk about the clay
will add several new tips and ideas to your collection.
This video covers:
- Tools and materials
- Faces and Hair
- Hands and Feet
- Clothing and Accessories
- Sources and Resources
Margene reviews tools and materials in depth. In addition
to commercial items such as a standing magnifying glass and
sculpting tools, everyday household materials and homemade
gadgets are shown and described, as are supplies available
at local craft stores. Worn-out paint brushes have become
specialized sculpting devices. A garlic press produces luscious
clay hair. Throughout the video, many tools are used in creative
ways. Various brands of polymer clay are reviewed and their
best uses described.
Margene begins her instructions with armatures, the hidden
frameworks, or "skeletons," of clay bodies. She
explains the basics of building up lightweight yet strong
frames using aluminum foil, tape and wire. An empty glass
bottle becomes the basis for a figure's full-length skirt.
For free-standing figures whose legs will be visible, florists'
wire is used with foil for pose and for shape. Scrap clay
forms the outer layers of these unseen armatures.
While Margene's first video in this series described the
creation of faces in great detail, she shows here how to use
commercial "push molds," available in craft stores,
to make faces which are applied to plain clay heads. One of
the constant themes of this video is the usefulness of baking
figures frequently, after each addition of new clay components.
Using her many tools, some homemade, she adds glass bead eyes
and adjusts features to bring individuality to the molded
faces. Wrinkles, a smile, even ears can be made unique —
elf ears, anyone?
The subject of hair and beards is discussed next. Timing—whether
to make the hair before or after the clothing. Style—whether
to start with a solid clay slab and sculpt a short hair style
from it, or whether to extrude individual strands for flowing
locks or beards. Curls and ringlets are also demonstrated.
Throughout this video, Margene reminds her viewers how important,
and easy, it is to take her basic instructions and make personalized
variations. As she says, "Any color you want, any style
Margene's explanation of hat-making is another example of
her teaching style. She demonstrates basic forms and textures,
shows some of her own variations, and encourages her viewers
to invent their own variations. She even divulges her approach
to experimenting with textures at fabric stores.
Hands and feet (and arms and legs) are the next topic. The
basic form and position of the arms and legs are covered,
as are the tiniest details of hands and feet. Margene shows
how to shape the hands and how to add fingernails, knuckles,
and even tendons. She also mentions commercial push molds
made for hands and feet. All kinds of shoes are next — tennis
shoes, Mary Janes, elf shoes, street shoes. Then plain socks,
ribbed socks, and pantaloons. Use your own body and wardrobe
For a woman's dress, viewers are shown how to soften and
use commercially available millefiori cane slices, but are
reminded that making millefiori canes is covered in other
Mindstorm videos in the series. Tips for making realistic
clothing from clay are shown, from textures to fabric draping
and wrinkling. Additional details such as lace trim, belts,
pants, shirts and collars are also demonstrated.
Bases upon which figures sit or stand are shown and discussed
briefly. Margene also shows figures sitting and reclining
in coffee mugs. The video ends with recommendations for mail
order sources of supplies, including Margene's own line of
push molds. Stay tuned for the very end of the tape, or you'll
miss some funny outtakes from the making of this video.