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Sculpey III Light Bulb Portrait Bust

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A Sculpey III Art and Biography Project, Grades 6 - 12 Goals:
  • Study the anatomy and proportion of the human head.
  • Learn to use an armature as the basis for sculpting.
  • Create a 3-dimensional portrait bust of a famous person, family member or imaginary person.
  • Complete a complex, multi-lesson project.
  • Model the features of a head, with hair and clothing.
20111101132409504_0 Project by: Marji Purcell
Three 3x5” cards per student One regular incandescent light bulb per student About 24” of ½” of masking tape per student Scrap paper to pad shoulders Scissors|Three 3x5” cards per student One regular incandescent light bulb per student About 24” of ½” of masking tape per student Scrap paper to pad shoulders Scissors

Project Instructions

Start with clean hands and work surface area. Good work surfaces include wax paper, metal baking sheet, or disposable foil. Knead clay until soft and smooth. For best results, clean your hands in between colors. Bake on oven-proof glass or metal surface at 275 °F for 15 minutes per 1/4 in thickness. For best baking results, use an oven thermometer. DO NOT USE MICROWAVE OVEN. DO NOT EXCEED THE ABOVE TEMPERATURE OR RECOMMENDED BAKING TIME. Wash hands after use. All baking should be completed by an adult. Begin by preheating oven to 275 °F. Test temperature with oven thermometer for perfectly cured clay. Condition all clay by kneading in your hands until soft and pliable.
Students should gather resource photos or illustrations of their chosen subject
First class period: Make the armature. Cut an X in the center of a 3x5” card for the shoulders. Bend the X up and insert the base of the light bulb.
Cut or tear a length of masking tape into 2” pieces. Use 4 pieces of to tape the light bulb to the card. Curve the card into shoulders, making sure the bulb and card have a flat, even base. Crumple about a ¼-sheet of paper into balls, and insert under shoulders. Indent the shoulders to round them. Tape across the base under each shoulder.
With the skull template, cut the lower face and jaw line on one-half of a 3”x5” card.
Experiment with placement, making sure the template is halfway down the light bulb “skull.” Use 2 more pieces of tape to secure the skull at the temples.
Second class period: Condition the skin color of clay and roll it through the clay machine at the thickest setting. Suggestion: Dedicate one or two pasta machines to darker colors for skin, clothing and hair.
Cut the skin template and use a scrap to build out the nose on the skull before draping the clay across the front of the light bulb, wrapping and smoothing at the back of the neck, and nudging rippled excess clay into a smooth layer.
Teach making eyes, noses, mouths and ears, and let students begin making them when ready, but DO NOT attach them to the face until later. Save on an index card.
Third class period: Condition and drape the clothing colors, remembering that if skin shows on the chest or back, it should be layered first. Continue making facial features but do not add them yet.
Fourth class period: Condition a base of hair color, and lay it onto the skull, cutting away excess as needed. Then add thin ropes of clay to complete the hair. Important Note: If you are using clay extrusion machines for hair, have students take turns making 1-2 oz. of thin extruded ropes EACH class period, or there could be a traffic jam at the machines toward the end! Keep the “hair” in a labeled zip-lock bag loosely coiled until needed.
Last, add the saved facial features and smooth them into place carefully. Laying the bust on its back may flatten the hair in back, so reserve some clay strands to fluff the “do” if needed. If the bust leans forward or back, add a ball of scrap clay near the light bulb stem. Bake as directed above.
Start with clean hands and work surface area. Good work surfaces include wax paper, metal baking sheet, or disposable foil. Knead clay until soft and smooth. For best results, clean your hands in between colors. Bake on oven-proof glass or metal surface at 275 °F for 15 minutes per 1/4 in thickness. For best baking results, use an oven thermometer. DO NOT USE MICROWAVE OVEN. DO NOT EXCEED THE ABOVE TEMPERATURE OR RECOMMENDED BAKING TIME. Wash hands after use. All baking should be completed by an adult. Begin by preheating oven to 275 °F. Test temperature with oven thermometer for perfectly cured clay. Condition all clay by kneading in your hands until soft and pliable.
Students should gather resource photos or illustrations of their chosen subject
First class period: Make the armature. Cut an X in the center of a 3x5” card for the shoulders. Bend the X up and insert the base of the light bulb.
Cut or tear a length of masking tape into 2” pieces. Use 4 pieces of to tape the light bulb to the card. Curve the card into shoulders, making sure the bulb and card have a flat, even base. Crumple about a ¼-sheet of paper into balls, and insert under shoulders. Indent the shoulders to round them. Tape across the base under each shoulder.
With the skull template, cut the lower face and jaw line on one-half of a 3”x5” card.
Experiment with placement, making sure the template is halfway down the light bulb “skull.” Use 2 more pieces of tape to secure the skull at the temples.
Second class period: Condition the skin color of clay and roll it through the clay machine at the thickest setting. Suggestion: Dedicate one or two pasta machines to darker colors for skin, clothing and hair.
Cut the skin template and use a scrap to build out the nose on the skull before draping the clay across the front of the light bulb, wrapping and smoothing at the back of the neck, and nudging rippled excess clay into a smooth layer.
Teach making eyes, noses, mouths and ears, and let students begin making them when ready, but DO NOT attach them to the face until later. Save on an index card.
Third class period: Condition and drape the clothing colors, remembering that if skin shows on the chest or back, it should be layered first. Continue making facial features but do not add them yet.
Fourth class period: Condition a base of hair color, and lay it onto the skull, cutting away excess as needed. Then add thin ropes of clay to complete the hair. Important Note: If you are using clay extrusion machines for hair, have students take turns making 1-2 oz. of thin extruded ropes EACH class period, or there could be a traffic jam at the machines toward the end! Keep the “hair” in a labeled zip-lock bag loosely coiled until needed.
Last, add the saved facial features and smooth them into place carefully. Laying the bust on its back may flatten the hair in back, so reserve some clay strands to fluff the “do” if needed. If the bust leans forward or back, add a ball of scrap clay near the light bulb stem. Bake as directed above.