My excitement about fixing up an old Thinkpad T30 and installing a Linux OS has inspired me to create Tux the penguin out of clay.
- First, I mixed a black with a gray with a slight shimmer, and worked the mixture until it was uniform in appearance.
- Then, I molded the clay into a pear shape. Save a small chunk to make his flippers.
To make the bib, I rolled out a small ball of shimmery white, and made it slightly oblong with one end thicker than the other. Then I squished it flat on the table, and shaped it as you see above.
The bib can be gently pressed into the white. I definitely made this piece too thick – it would have looked much better a bit thinner.
- I toned down the yellow clay by mixing it with white, and then prepared a beak bottom and top by making two small triangles. I actually only needed one of the triangles, and I used my fingernail to mark the “lips.”
- Place the lips directly at the top of the white bib.
- Eyes are fairly easy – two small white circles, and then two slightly smaller black circles for the pupils. You can use the eyes to convey expression. For mine, since this guy is a graphic, I went with a generic stare.
- Separate the remaining black clay into two pieces, and roll each piece into a 3/4 inch log. Flatten one end slightly more than the other to get the “flipper shape” below. To attach them, I like to make X’s on the back of the surface being attached, and the surface I am attaching to. I then take a rounded tool and work the edges together, as you can see below. After merging, you can use your finger or a smooth tool to get rid of the rough edges.
- Tux after getting his flippers! In retrospect I would have made the flippers thinner at the top as well. It’s a delicate balance of making the piece substantial enough to not crack immediately when/after it’s baked, and making things tiny/delicate/thin/beautiful!
- To make the feet, I mixed some more yellow and white, and formed two small balls to attach to his bottom for “legs” (as you can see on the left). I then made two slightly larger balls and formed them into thin isosceles triangles. I put the triangles together, side by side, with the smallest angles touching at the bottom. This is the corner that will be integrated with the leg stubs. On the top, I pinched together the inner edges to make a center toe, and used a pencil to indent the center of each top, creating the impression of two outside toes.
- The last step was to gently work the feed into the body and legs, as was done with the flippers.
- The general rule for clay is to bake it on a clean sheet at 250 degrees, 15 minutes for every 1/4″ thickness.
- Tux was in there about 45 minutes.
- Finished! I gave him a quick glaze to bring out the shimmer in the body.
And here comes my perfectionist nature – he’s cute, but all I see is what is wrong with him! These are the things that I would do differently if I gave this a round 2:
- I created this guy without looking at any sort of picture for reference. I should have made the beak less square, and more oval.
- The white “bib” piece is way too thick.
- The feet needed to be slightly smaller, more separated, and pointed outwards.
- The top of his head should have a little more length to it.
- The eyes are slightly different in size, and I should have gone with my instinct and added expression.
- I forgot to make the nose holes!
- His body is tilted slightly backwards, and I’d like it better if it were more perpendicular.
- My use of glaze was not wise. It would have added most to the piece if his eyes and beak had a slight glaze, and possibly the white part of his body, and nothing else.
Sochat, Vanessa. "The Merging of Penguin and Clay - Tux!." @vsoch (blog), 25 Jun 2010, https://vsoch.github.io/2010/the-merging-of-penguin-and-clay-tux/ (accessed 01 Oct 23).