Working with polymer clay is fun and easy---it comes in many colours, can be formed into any shape using your hands and simple tools and will keep its shape permanently after baking in a home oven. Polymer clays can be used to make figures, dolls, beads, jewellery and animals such as a monkey.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Polymer clay of four colours (brown, white, cream and black)
- small cutting knife / craft knife
- smooth, non-sticky work surface (ceramic tile, acrylic board, glass pane or waxed paper)
- toothpick cut into half
- Ruler with millimetre markings
- Wooden cutting board, or a ceramic plate or tile
Prepare a non-sticky work surface. Make sure that it is smooth, clean and free from dust.
Slice off a small amount of clay from each of your clay bars.
Condition the polymer clay by kneading it between your fingers. Take the lightest colour (white) first. As it warms and softens, start rolling the clay between your palms into the shape of a snake.
Make a circular motion with your hands to make a ball out of the snake. Repeat this several times until the clay is soft enough to shape without having to squeeze too much. Do the same for the other colours. The next colour should be cream, then brown, then black, so as not to stain your hands with the darker colours when you work with the lighter ones.
Roll the clay colours into snakes again and divide them so that you can come up with the following proportions when rolled into a ball: one brown ball 15mm in diameter; one brown ball 20mm in diameter; four brown balls 10mm in diameter; two brown balls 0.5mm diameter; one cream ball 10mm in diameter; seven cream balls 0.3mm in diameter; one brown ball 10mm in diameter; two white balls 0.2mm diameter and two black balls 0.1mm in diameter.
Preparing the Work Area and the Polymer Clay
Shape the 15mm-diameter brown ball into a slightly flat pear.
Shape the 20mm brown, 10mm cream, and 0.3mm cream balls into slightly flat ovals.
Shape the 10mm brown balls into long cones (one end pointy).
Shape the 10mm brown ball into a cylinder (rounded ends). Keep the round shape of the remaining clay balls. Re-roll if necessary.
Creating the Basic Shapes
Lay your bigger oval on the centre of your work surface. This will be the monkey's body. Get the pear and place it above the body---this will be the head.
Put legs on the monkey using two cone-shaped clay pieces. Attach the narrow/pointed ends on the bottom left and right sides of the oval body. Press the foot ends of the legs to make them look like small paddles.
Put arms on the monkey using the remaining two cone-shaped clay. Attach the narrow/pointed ends on the upper left and right sides of the body (the monkey has its arms up). Press the hand ends of the arms to make them look like small paddles.
Put the cylinder-shaped clay behind the monkey to make a tail. Take the two 0.5mm balls and put these on both sides of the pear-shaped head, where the curve of the pear is. These are the ears. Make a little 'bowl' in each ear with a small stick with a rounded end (like a pencil eraser).
Take the seven round cream balls. Place a ball in each ear and then put two balls side by side on the head for eyes. Get one cream ball, shape it into a horizontal oval and place it below the middle of the eyes to make a nose. Join the remaining two balls and shape them into a big closed mouth.
Make a little bowl in each ear again using the rounded end of a stick. Get the toothpick and use the blunt end to indent eye sockets in the middle of the monkey's cream eyes. Make smaller holes in the nose for nostrils. Make a gap in the mouth to make the monkey smile.
Put the white balls in the monkey's eye sockets. Indent holes in the eyeballs. Put the black balls in the eyeballs.
Put the smaller (10mm) cream oval and place it on the monkey's body and indent a bellybutton hole in its tummy.
Cut off spaces between the monkey's fingers and toes using a small knife. Round off the sides of the fingers and toes.
Shaping into a Monkey
Place the clay monkey on a wooden cutting board or a ceramic plate or tile.
Bake in the oven according to the polymer clay package instructions.
Take the clay monkey out of the oven and let it cool.
Firing the Monkey
Tips and warnings
- Clean up by rubbing a little oil onto your hands first and then washing it off with ordinary dishwashing soap.
- Clean your tools and work surface using rubbing alcohol.
- Store unused clay in a plastic bag stored in a cool, dry place away from the sun. Refrigeration or freezing works best to extend the clay's shelf life.
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