Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


Holiday Ornaments-My Process to Create a Cat Ornament

Now that I’ve completed the Languedoc-Roussillon series, I must move on to the next task on my list: Holiday ornaments. I need to make several for NOA for their upcoming holiday season display (which sounds really nice; 5 white Christmas trees displayed in both stores & decorated entirely with local artisan-made ornaments.) And there are the upcoming shows on my schedule (Merrimack Valley Artisans, Bolton Artisans Guild, ArtSpace-Maynard.)  Time to GET BUSY!

Last year I made a few ornaments using disk shaped glass ornaments as my armature. Here is one example:

This year I decided to try sculpting over a round ornament. That comes with a different set of challenges as the shape can change the perspective.

I wanted to make a prototype piece first. This one is the practice piece and takes all the grief. Poor ornament.

Here is my process for this cat prototype. I started with white polymer clay, covered the glass ball and added facial features. I really struggled with the face. That could be because I haven’t sculpted in a while and was shifting gears from the encaustic work back to polymer clay.

I know I was also hard on myself in seeking perfection on a practice piece. I know better but it happens anyways. Just have to remind myself “this is only a test….”

Back view with tail

After proto-cat was cured and cooled, I added an antique wash of acrylic paint.

Not bad. Now you can see the texture I added with a needle tool.

Next up is adding more color. This year I’m experimenting with oil paints and coloring the clay. So I rubbed, smooshed, and then wiped off several oil paints to give proto-cat some color.

Well now he’s glowing. It takes a little trial and error when applying the oil paint. Be sure to wear gloves! At this point I’m not really happy with the results. What I see in front of me isn’t matching what is in my head…or my model/inspiration for that matter.

Taking a clue from my model (who is sleeping on the studio floor), I take a break and come back to the ornament in the evening. I add some more oil paint and additional color with Prismacolor pencils. This adds some depth and definition.

And a back view. I think I like his tail the best….

Sigh. I’m still not feeling the love here. Proto-cat looks a little alien to me. But that is why this is a prototype.

I spent some time really looking at the cats and the shape of the ornament. Proto-cat’s face still seems flat to me. It looks like a cat but it doesn’t. Some things I’ll change on the next one:

  • build out the face instead of adding face parts
  • make the eyes rounder
  • make smaller marks with the needle tool
  • work from a picture versus memory or a sleeping model
  • try a different polymer clay that is easier to manipulate

What do you think?