Thursday, December 8, 2011

Poly Clay Christmas Piggy Ornament

 "Oink! Oink! Oink!"  In case you don't speak pig, that means, "Merry Christmas!  Time to make a piggy ornament!"  

   Polymer clay is a lot of fun to work with.  I was telling the ladies on my sewing forum that I have a short attention span, so short, easy projects always work best for me.  Poly clay ornaments are the perfect project when you don't have a TON of time, but still want to make something cute.

    Last year, I made some Christmas piggies for a friend's boys.  They turned out so cute that I wanted to try to recreate them for my kiddos.  I had already made hedgehog ornaments for my guys, so I decided to put it off until next (this) year.

    Here's the first!  Complete with tutorial.
Supplies- (many of these are optional or you can substitute with other things, I'll try my best to break it down)

     Before I get into the specifics, the clay that I prefer to use is Sculpey Studio.  It's more firm than some other polymer clays, which is good and bad.  Good because it holds its shape really well, but bad because it can make it more difficult to mold and/or blend.  I definitely recommend having clay softener on hand if you use this type of clay.  One drop goes a LONG way.  Don't use more than that without really needing it, otherwise you'll end up with slick, slippery, gooey clay.  Egh!  Like working with clay snot.

   Also, I have a little mini clay oven and silicone pad that I use specifically for baking my poly projects.  However, a regular oven works fine.  Just be sure that any cookie sheet you use for baking poly projects will NOT be used for food after.  Just designate one sheet for crafting and only use it for that purpose.  Before I had my craft oven, I used a regular oven, a cookie sheet (designated for craft projects, not food), and I would bake the clay on waxed paper placed on top of the cookie sheet.

Okay, now the list:
*= Optional or can be substituted with something else or worked around.

Clay- I used Sculpey Studio #6210 (Poppy), #6452 (Peapod), #6207 (Sedona), #6316 (Blush), and #6101 (Whipped Cream)
*Clay Softener- very useful with Sculpey Studio clay, but not 100% necessary.
Wax Paper- for sculpting on and/or baking
*Fine-tip Sharpie- for marking initials on the bottom of your ornament
Flexible Wire- for making the hanging loop
White paint
Satin or Gloss Glaze- (I used Satin)
Clay "ball" tool- This looks almost like a pen with a little metal ball on the end, great for making perfectly round holes (i.e.- "nostrils") 
Wooden Clay tool for shaping- Mine has a thin edge for making lines/gouges, and a blunt edge
Wooden Clay tool for cutting- Used for trimming off excess clay and neatening edges
*Bake and Bond- I apply this to the wire loop for added security.  It's possible to make it without, but I like my stuff to be super durable.  With my kids, it needs to be...
Needlenose pliers- For twisting the wire loop
*Metal decorating tool-  I use this in a lot of different ways.  Smoothing, painting dots on the eyes, and using the fat, round end to shape the eye of the wire loop into a nice circle.  Can substitute other stuff for it, though, if needed.

Step 1- Shape the main part of the body into a smooth egg shape.  You'll also want to start preheating your oven at this point.  I used Sculpey Studio, so I preheated to 275 degrees.  If you use something else, follow the manufacturer instructions for the oven temperature.

Step 2- Make two little round balls out of the darker pink clay.  Slightly flatten them and use clay shaping tool to split each of them about halfway in to form trotters.

Step 3- Place egg shaped body onto trotters and push down firmly, but without squeezing body or changing its shape.

Step 4- Take darker pink clay and roll into a ball.  Flatten and shape into an oval.  Add your snout to the body.

Use your metal ball tool or other rounded object to make "nostrils".  Push all the way back into the body, this will ensure that the nose is stuck on really well.

Step 5-  Using the same method as Step 2, make two more trotters.  Add to sides of body, leaving a gap big enough for the wreath he'll be holding.

Step 6- Add eyes.  Roll a tiny bit of black into a slightly oval shape.  Attach using fingers or wooden tool.

Step 7- Roll red clay into a ball and then start applying pressure to only one side to thin it out and make more of a cone shape.
Fold over smaller end and cut off excess at the bottom.  Honestly, this part is all about "eyeballing" it.  Hold it up to your pig (without touching it) and see how much you should trim.  You can always trim more later, so don't hack off a huge chunk at first... keep trimming until it looks right.

Step 8- Attach hat to head.  Push down firmly, but without misshaping the hat.

Step 9- Roll out a long "worm" of white and wrap it around the base of the hat.  Make sure the line meets in the back.  Don't worry about blending the line yet, you'll do that later.

Use your wooden tool to flatten the white band all the way around, making sure that it's firmly attached.

Then add a white ball to the end of the hat.

Step 10- Roll out a very tiny dark pink "worm" that is thicker on one end than the other.  Then, loop it around so it corkscrews back on itself for a piggy tail.  (BTW, the next picture just looks horrible.  Like a curly pink booger.  I apologize.  Lol!)

Yes, that's a piggy tail.  Sadly, very booger-like in this pic.

Attach to the body.
Step 11-  Time to form the ears.  I find it easiest to start off with a ball.  Then squish it pretty flat, leaving one side rounded and the other side pointed.  Make the pointy end a bit thinner than the rounded base.  This is going to be your ear.  Make two.

Attach to the body by gently pressing.  A wooden tool comes in handy for securing the base a bit.  Also, when you apply the ear, try to make it curve a bit.  Pig ears are floppy and imperfect.

Step 12- Get a bit of green clay and make a short, fat "worm".  Connect it so it forms an "O" and flatten it a bit.  Attach it to the body so the connected part of the "O" is at the bottom.  It will later be covered up with a bow.

Using your wooden shaping tool, toothpick, or whatever you have on hand, make indentations all around the wreath.  The neater you keep it, the nicer it'll look... at least as far as Sculpey Studio is concerned.  If you decide to use a softer clay, you can mash it around a bit to look a bit more plant-like.

Now, roll two small balls of red clay and indent them with "v"s on one edge of each ball.  Place at the bottom of the wreath.
Finally, roll a super tiny ball of red and attach it over the middle of the "v"s to form a bow.  I flattened mine out slightly with a wooden shaping tool.

Step 13- Cut a short length of wire.
Wrap wire around a round object.  I used my metal clay tool.  Wrapping it around a round object will keep the loop nice and round as you twist the wire.  Once it's wrapped, use your needle nose pliers to twist a bit of it and trim off the extra.  There's no specific length that it has to be, as long as it's long enough to go through the base of the hat and into the main part of the body.

Twisting the wire and forming a loop.
Insert wire into main body of the pig, through the base of the Santa hat.
Now, smooth over the part where the white band meets in the back.  (If you had done it before this point, it may have separated when you inserted the wire.)

    Add a bit of Bake and Bond to the wire loop at the base.  When it bakes, it will act as a kind of superglue for the wire loop.  The loop could probably do without glue (and I have made ornaments without it that were perfectly fine), but I like the added bond. 

Step 14- Bake your ornament.  As I said before, my clay bakes at 275 for half an hour.  Read the instructions on your clay if you are using something different.  I also bake my projects in a craft oven on top of a silicone sheet.  However, a regular oven can work just as good, if you bake your projects on a cookie sheet that is SPECIFICALLY for craft projects (not food) and on top of a piece of waxed paper.  (Waxed paper on cookie sheet, project on waxed paper... set and ready to bake.)
Once it has baked, allow it to cool completely.

Step 15-  Use white paint to add dots to the eyes.  This really brings it to life.  You can also use a fine-tip Sharpie to write your initials on the bottom (I also add the year).

Applying with metal tool.

Once the eyes have been painted, allow them to dry and then apply the satin glaze all over the entire body.  Let that dry completely and then add the ribbon to the loop so it can hang.