Sunday, October 27, 2013

Happy Kitty, harder than it looks

 For this little bead, 1 18" tall, the idea was for this kitty bead to have that funny look when a kitten puts both paws out in play or when 'attacking'.

As the title suggests, things are often much harder than they look.

The face went fairly well. The happy eyes expression a bit tricky and the open mouth and tiny chin took a long time to be 'just right.

Adding the texture to a sculpture sometimes would distort the details and it would be "start all over again". Accustomed to these little struggles when sculpting small items, perseverance paid off, and when it made me smile to look at it, it was finished. 

The paws with outspread toes were an entirely different story. In addition to being very time consuming and exacting they had to match.

Finally, two little paws emerged from the raw clay, same size, same level but too short. Cut away the paws from the chin, add a bit of clay to the bottom, raising them to the proper lever, smooth the joins, texture the new clay and quit for the day.

But, something was still bugging me about the design. 

Funny thing about seeing something with fresh eyes.... you can see immediately what was bugging you earlier.

The perfectly finished paws were WAY to big for the happy, little face.


After some more work one little paw was finally scaled better for the face. Tomorrow I'll start on the second paw, reducing the size of all the pads and surrounding 'fur'.

The beads are very thick at this time. They are sculpted thicker than needed so that they can be sized if needed by sanding the backs of the beads down. This allows for any textures and details to remain constant throughout the design and the finished beads can all tweaked so they are all the same thickness.

Below is the first photo of the kitty with big paws.

By Penni Jo Couch
Designer/sculptor of 

Friday, October 25, 2013

I (Heart) Kitty Work In Progress

Before beginning to create a variety of themes on the 'kitty' the original one was first scanned and the image pulled into photoshop where it was converted to grayscale. The resulting image was enlarged and repeated on a page so a number of designs could be tested.

To the left is a photo of the resulting images on my worktop. Two pages of reference of kittens, playing kittens, startled kittens were also put together.

Male, female and popular themes were tried. These were the ones chosen to begin.

This is an image of the I (Heart) Kitty in progress. It's since been baked. The heart is of pink clay.

The photos in the back are reference for the next bead, happy kitty.

A close up view of the bead.

Tomorrow, Happy Kitty and Sweet Girl will be on the work top for finishing. 

The same bead, different angle and color tinted.

By Penni Jo Couch
Designer/sculptor of 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty!

In a high falsetto voice my grandmother used to call her old cat, Leo, with these words. From the time I was little I learned many things from her and one of the earliest was how to call the cat. :-) Little did I think that in later years I'd be sculpting them and spend many an hour designing and sculpting the little enigmatic creatures through the years!
Kitty bead shown with my hand for scale

Fast forward to the present... a kitty bead was on the list of items to sculpt so I tackled it with the usual enthusiasm.

Only now, with the sight gone from one eye, the task is a bit more challenging so after a lot of struggle I decided to sculpt a single bead, have Joe mold it then take several pressings for the final designs.


Mold and pressed part
After the first kitty bead was baked a flexible rubber mold was made and the original was removed.

By pressing clay into the mold I made several pressed clay parts that I had planned to modify to create individual beads or expressions. One with a heart to create a 'message' or gender, obvious boy or girl bead.

After a bunch of sketches, the girls and hearts were easy, but the boy bead was a super challenge. How do you make a sweet kitten into a little guy? After viewing a bunch of images the dapper guy began to take shape.
Dapper Kitty sculpt created in colored clay

With a crisp collar, a snappy bow tie, hat with a hat band to match the bow tie texture and a very, very tiny fish on the hat band the little dapper kitty was finished.

He is baked and needs a bit of touch up before molding but, with the toughest character done, it will be downhill all the way now.

Just for fun I added color to the sculpt with a layer of color in photoshop.

This sculpt is just under 1 1/8 inch tall.

by Penni Jo
creator and designer of 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

From Michigan to Home and out again

September was a big month for us. We had two shows booked, one on the weekend of the 14th and the other on the next week, the 21st. Only one little problem, the first one was in Imlay Michigan, an annual gourd festival, and the second in Houston, a polymer clay retreat.
We left on Sunday September 8th before noon and by 5:00 in the afternoon our RV transmission quit.

One truly amazing thing, we broke down less than two miles from one of the two places in the state that could work on an Allison transmission!

We were pleased that Good Sam (RV tow insurance) sent a two truck in less than half an hour to tow us to the nearest place United Engines where we spent the night in their front parking lot. Even without a transmission, the generator worked just fine so we were comfortable.

The next day they said they'd try to get it in to see what was wrong so we stayed in the Ramada Inn, a fabulous hotel and very pet friendly Sunday night. On Monday they still could not get to it so we headed home and decided on the way to drop the fur babies off at Joe Paul's house and headed back to Tulsa and spent another great night at the Ramada inn.

The next morning we drove to the RV, loaded everything we could into the car, see pic left, and headed out for the 900 mile drive to Imlay.

One sad thing, we failed to get the samples for my class, the finished gourds.

The drive was beautiful and we passed farm after farm with corn fields and other crops ready to pick.

It is easy to see why this part of the country is called the breadbasket of the world.

Along the way we would stop for the night, sleep and pull orders the next day. If the hotel had a printer or office center we'd print out the orders and I'd write out the addresses, Joe'd take them to the local post office and we would be heading north again.

We arrived at the Michigourder Annual Festival the night before it opened.

Polyform had donated the clay for my classes and shipped it to the director in Imlay so my clay was there when we arrived.

I taught two classes on Polymer clay basics and two classes on making a fitted lid for a gourd.

Everyone seemed to be having a great time learning and having fun playing in clay!

I had a great time and while we were there got a call that our RV was fixed and ready to go.  We headed home with many wonderful memories, picked up the RV and had a few hours to do some laundry before heading to Houston.