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Friday, November 17, 2017

A Hippopotamus for Christmas

A Hippopotamus for Christmas by Patricia Roberts-Thompson
White Makin’s Clay® imitates a wood burned panel in this little Journal Cover inspired by the 1953 Gayla Peeney song, “I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas!” I’ll show how to transfer a drawing, and two ways to impress the lines. First one will be carved with a V-tool gouge, then another method with a ball tool and a thick plastic bag.


White Makin’s Clay® 32002 60g   
Americana Staining  Antiquing Medium (optional)
FolkArt Acrylic paint – Asphaltum  (brown color)
Acrylic paints in Gold, silver, red. black and green or colors of your choice
Varnish, I used PYMII spray varnish


Makin’s Professional® Ultimate Clay Machine®
Small Kemper Ball tool
Small V-tool gouge
Ziplock bag, cut in two pieces.
Small round cutters, or small straws to make round dots
Clay blade, brushes. Tracing paper, small book to cover


Fig. 1:  Use a pencil to trace the drawing onto some tracing paper. Roll a half of a 120g package of white Makin’s Clay® on the thickest setting of your Ultimate Clay Machine®. Note: you can enlarge the drawing, and use more clay to make a bigger Journal Cover.
Don’t draw the small circles in pencil, they are better to add with your cutter or straws later.
Flip the drawing over and apply it to the freshly rolled clay with the pencil lines down. Rub the drawing with your fingers, to transfer the design onto the clay. Note: you will have the reverse     
or mirror image on the clay. Cut the clay to size, and keep unused clay in a ziplock bag.

Fig. 2:    Use small round cutters to make dots around the leaves. I used Bootlace ferrules in various     
sizes. Other things that work well are straws and the plastic covers from paintbrushes. Use a small ball tool to add tiny dots to the muzzle of the hippopotamus. Let dry for at least 24 hours before attempting to carve.

Fig 3:     Put the clay piece on a index card, and carefully carve the pencil lines, pushing the tool away from you. You don’t need to press too hard, light pressure will do. Turn the clay piece as you
carve the curves rather than trying to turn the v-tool. When you have a point, such as with the leaves, lift the tool and start from the other side, don’t try to go around a sharp point. Try to
remember, that you only need to remove a fine line as you carve. It helps to slightly lift the tool as you near the end of a stroke. That will give you more control. Alcohol on a paper towel will 
remove the excess pencil lines when you finish the carving.
Selection of v-tools, one from a wood carving store (Lee Valley), a lino cutter, and one from a stamp carving kit.

Fig. 4:    Mix a small amount of FolkArt Asphaltum ( brown ) with a bit of Americana Staining Antiquing Medium and apply all over the clay piece. Use a dry paper towel to remove the paint, using an up and down motion to simulate wood. Follow with a wet wipe to remove even more paint, making sure you leave the paint in the carved lines. The Staining medium helps the paint slip, but is not really necessary to achieve a similar effect.  If you remove too much, you can reapply.  Let this dry thoroughly before proceeding.

Next, I watered down some red paint and applied it to the Christmas ornaments, and random dots. Then I applied Silver paint to finish the ornaments and more dots, and Gold paint to finish the dots. Watered down green finished the leaves. I was going for a stained look with the acrylic paints. The Hippopotamus was painted with a thin layer of black paint with a tiny amount of silver added. Wipe the paint if it is applied too heavily. Straight black was used for the eyes, and a white highlight was added when dry.

When everything was dry, I sprayed the clay with PYMII varnish and glued it to my little journal with Weldbond glue.

Method 2 : Trace the drawing on tracing paper, and transfer as in Fig 1. Cut a ziplock bag and place one layer on the clay over the transferred drawing. Use a small ball tool to press in all the lines of the hippo, ornaments and leaves. The plastic keeps the ball tool from digging into the clay, it helps it slide for a nicer line. I find thin plastic tears, so the thicker ziplock bag works better. Remove the plastic, and deepen any lines that need it. This would have to be carefully done as the tool will move the clay quite a bit. Let dry for 24 hours, then, follow the previous steps to finish. I’m showing the second version just finished as a faux wood piece.

Have fun!

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