Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Project!!! How to Make Segmented Fish From Polymer Clay

Beastie recently found an old completed project and asked if we could make her a necklace. I said, "SURE!" and decided to share it with you too.

Here are the full instructions on how to create segmented fish from STAEDTLER Fimo

Materials needed to create this project:

2 STAEDTLER Fimo colors of your choice, plus a scrap of black Fimo for the eyes
Scrap Fimo to make the molds (about a quarter block)
Metal leaf
Size (adhesive) for gold leaf
STAEDTLER Fimo gloss varnish
Heavy beading elastic
Crimp beads that fit the elastic and match your metallic powders
4mm spacer beads that match your clay colors (2 or 3 for each body segment)
Jump rings
Eye pins
Fine chain
4mm facetted glass bead 
Tools needed to create this project:
Clay rolling tool or (exclusively used for clay) pasta machine
Corn starch (to use as a release agent)
Round clay cutters varying from .5in to 1in (or a craft knife to cut circles)
Parchment paper
A selection of soft, small paintbrushes
Flat and round nose jewelry pliers and wire cutter to assemble piece
STAEDTLER fine tip permanent black marker

Step #1. Making the Molds

Make a 1/2 in thick worm of scrap clay and cut 5 segments that are each 1/4in longer than the segment before it. Roll these segments into balls and form them into flattened teardrop shapes. Insert a toothpick into the flat end of each teardrop shape and bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 30 minutes in a preheated 230 degree oven. Let the molds cool before using.

Step #2. Blending the Clay 

Create a Skinner blend by rolling out two clay colors to 1/8th inch thick sheets. Cut the sheets diagonally and stack, match the wide end of one color stack to the thin end of another. Fold the clay over (Long way every time) and re roll to a 1/8th inch thick sheet. Repeat this process rolling and folding (always in the same direction) until the clay colors blend in the center of the sheet. Keep the blending sheet neat and tight, by pushing the side edges straight after every fold.

Step #3. Making the Body Segments

Roll the blended clay sheet out to 1/16th in or setting 5 on a pasta machine. Use the circle cutters or a craft knife to cut out circles that will cover each of the mold pieces. My largest cutter is 1in and my smallest is 1/2in. I cut my circles where the colors met on my flattened clay sheet. Dip the molds in corn starch and tap off the excess before you form the body shapes. 
The cornstarch will help the clay come off the mold.  You may have to re apply the cornstarch during molding by removing the sheet if it starts to stick to the mold and re dipping in cornstarch. I added small flattened balls of matching clay just on top of the tip of each mold before covering with the clay discs to form the body segments. The flattened ball of clay will reinforce the tip of each segment and strengthen the hole for beading later.
Form these flat, two color discs over the molds to create five body shapes. 

Make a tail piece that will fit into the smallest body segment. Each body segment needs a hole in the center for stringing the pieces together. The tail hole should go from top to bottom on the tail end that fits inside the smallest segment.

Stand the tooth pick based molds up in a worm of scrap clay for baking. The tail piece can be baked on a pile of cornstarch to keep it from flattening on the baking sheet. Bake these pieces and the tail on a parchment paper lined baking sheet in a preheated 230 degree oven for 20 minutes. Allow the pieces and molds to cool before unmolding.

   Using only the largest and second largest molds, make two new body segments. The largest segment will be the head of the fish and will need two small black clay eyes and some gills. The second largest segment needs two triangular side fins. Use a toothpick to add some fin texture. Bake all pieces on a parchment lined baking sheet in a preheated 230 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Step #4. Gilding and Varnishing

Mount each of the body pieces onto the end of a tooth pick with the cup of each segment facing up and stand each tooth pick up in a piece of Styrofoam.  Paint the inside and edges of each body segment with two coats of size for metal leaf. Let the coats dry between layers. When the size is clear but still tacky, apply gold leaf over the sized areas and burnish it into the size with a dry brush. Dust off any extra leafing. 
Coat each piece with at least three coats of varnish, letting each coat dry before applying the next coat. 

Step #5. Assembling the Pieces
 Start with the tail section and work toward the head. 
Thread a crimp bead onto the beading elastic and then add the tailpiece. Thread the elastic back through the crimp and tighten the elastic up to the tail. Crush the crimp bead in place and trim the tail end of the elastic leaving the working end to thread more pieces. Add the smallest body segment next. Then comes two or three spacer seed beads depending on how deep your body segments are. Add the next body segment, more spacers, and then the next segment until all segments but the head are loaded onto the elastic.

 After the body segment before the head is added, thread on another crimp bead, then an eye pin. Feed the elastic back through the crimp and tighten everything up to the body. Crush the crimp bead into place and trim the tail of elastic. Put one or two spacer beads onto the head pin and add the head segment. Add a decorative 4mm facetted glass bead and turn an eye tight to the bead with the round nose pliers being careful not to crush the nose of the fish.

Add a jump ring to the nose loop to hang the piece.

Alternate color: Koi
Roll out a sheet of translucent clay 1/8th in thick and press black and orange balls of clay onto the surface. Flatten these sheets slightly by rolling with a clay roller. 
Stack the sheets with the color sides both up and put through the pasta machine or clay roller until it is 1/16th in thick.
 Just before we put the clay through the rollers the last time we sprinkled it with heat safe glitter for some sparkle. The glitter looks like fish scales. 
 We added 4mm doll eyes to these fish and secured them with clay eyelids. Our doll eyes are made of Fimo clay using the technique shown HERE .