How to Make a Scary Tree with Creative Paperclay - Page One of Two


-------These instructions are for making a hollow tree that will allow
the insertion of a light - I will be using a green LED which does not produce
heat.  If you will be using any other type of lighting, please make sure that
you take proper safety precautions to prevent the bulbs/tree from
overheating.  Light tree at your own risk.


    When performing any sanding or machining procedures on dry paperclay!
This process will create EXTREMELY FINE DUST PARTICLES which
you probably don't want to be breathing.  Wear EYE PROTECTION
and make sure you have read all safety warnings on your power tools
before operating them!  (Project can be completed without the use
of any power tools)

Now on to the project!

You will need:
Creative Paperclay
    (amount will depend on the size of your tree, how thickly you apply
     the clay to your armature, and whether or not you choose to make
    the branches yourself.  The tree in this project is about 11" tall, the
     paperclay on the armature is about 1/8" thick, I used it for all the
    branches as well, and it took an entire 8 oz. package of paperclay
    to construct it)
plastic wrap
craft knife

masking tape
sculpting tools - whatever you are most comfortable with.
    (my personal favorite is an old nut pick,
    followed closely by a ball stylus assortment
    and some home-made tools)
container of water
Elmer's white glue
old newspapers
tissue paper or heavy-duty paper towels
good quality watercolor paper - I'm using Arches 120 lb. cold pressed
acrylic paints - black, white, burnt umber, burnt sienna, golden brown, dark forest green or ivy green
    note - these are Delta Ceramcoat colors, but you may use any acrylics you choose,
    in any color range with black white, browns and a green
large soft watercolor brush
fan brush, or old splayed brush suitable for dry-brush techniques
24 gauge wire
wire cutters
needle file or pointed diamond bit for Dremel or other power carving tool
wire brush
shiny green or red foil (if desired)

Begin by creating the branches - I prefer to create my own branches, but you can also use natural materials
and just insert and blend them into the tree trunk as shown below for the paperclay branches.

To create your own:
-    cut random lengths of wire from about 3" to 7" and twist the ends together in groups of 3 to 5.
-    cut small branch pieces and hand shapes from watercolor paper
-    glue wire pieces to paper towels or tissue paper.
-    Cut lengths of wire to attach to watercolor pieces, glue the wire to these pieces, then glue
     to paper towels or tissue paper.
-  allow pieces to dry, then cut out.
-  add paperclay to the small watercolor branches only (we will be doing the arm/hand sections
     and larger branches later).  Add the clay by spreading a thin layer of glue over the branches
    and allowing it to become tacky.  Pull a small amount of paperclay from the package, thin it
    between your fingers, and wrap around the branch armature.  Once you have the armature covered,
    smooth and sculpt along the branch by pulling the clay from the base to the tips with wet fingers.
    This takes practice - start gently or you will just pull the clay off the armature!
-   Allow all branches to dry.

When you have your branch pieces and arms ready, you can start your tree!
First twist some newspapers into a solid "log" shape and tape securely.  We are using this
 for the inside of the tree to make it hollow, but even if you don't want a hollow tree
 using this method will reduce your use of paperclay.  Remember that this is going to
 be the inside of the tree and will be covered with about 1/8" of paperclay all around,
 so don't make it too large

Cover your work surface with plastic wrap,
put down a blob of clay and start sculpting
the base of your tree, leaving an indent in
the center for your newspaper log.

If you plan on making a hollow tree, make the
center of the base thinner (about 1/16" or less,
but not so thin that it won't hold a shape).
It will be easy to cut through this thin part later.

Spread a thin layer of glue over the
newspaper piece and place into base.

Start adding clay around the
newspaper so that it stays
upright in the base.

Continue adding clay around the newspaper until you get
to the point where you want to start adding branches
and the arms (about half to two-thirds of the way up the tree).

Add the arm pieces by pushing the wire into the clay with the hands
pointing upwards, then adding additional clay to cover the wires.

Gently (without pulling the clay out from the base) pull the arms
down and position where you want them.  Spread a thin layer of glue
along the arm and onto the hands. Add clay along the arm
by thinning pieces of clay between your fingers and then
wrapping the clay around the wire. Once the wire arm is covered
with clay, dip your fingers into water and smooth and sculpt along the arm.

This takes practice - just go slowly and try to taper the arm
towards the wrist.

To sculpt the hand, press out a thin layer of clay between your fingers,
 then stick this layer onto the back side of the hand as shown.

Place your fingers behind the hand, and then gently go around the paper
with the BACK side of your craft knife (no cut fingers please!)

Add another thin layer of clay to the top of the hand, bend hand up and
repeat the process for cutting the paperclay on the hand.

(yes, this is the opposite hand - I forgot to take a picture of this
stage while I was sculpting the other one)

 It will be more difficult to see the areas to cut on this side, but it's
 not important that you go around the hand exactly, just that you
 have a little watercolor/paperclay sandwich to sculpt the hand from.

Once the watercolor paper hand armature is covered with clay,
press the clay gently around the finger pieces to join the clay layers
together, then sculpt the fingers.

Complete both arms and hands, then add more paperclay
around the trunk until you're ready to begin adding branches.

Spread a thin layer of glue along the branches,
press into the clay on the tree trunk and cover with thin
pieces of clay as you did for the arms.  Smooth the clay on the
branches and into the tree trunk with wet fingers.

Add the dry smaller branches you made earlier by placing them
about mid-way onto the larger branches you just created with wet clay,
and smoothing the wet clay onto the dry branches (if you have trouble
getting the wet clay to stick to the dry clay, apply a little bit
of glue on the dry branch and then smooth the wet clay onto it.)

Continue adding branches and sculpting into the tree trunk.
Smooth this all together so you get a "growth pattern" along the tree.

You may realize after you've added a few branches that your
tree trunk looks too thin, in which case, you can always just add
more clay.

I like to have some movement along the trunk, as shown in the photos,
you can see how the roots, trunk and limbs have a twisting,
growing motion to them.

If you are using natural branches, spread some glue on the bottom of the branches,
press into the clay on the tree trunk, and then use more clay to create a natural
flow up onto the branch.

Now that the tree is developing it's own personality, it's time to start sculpting the face!

Start by just marking out where you want the features
to go, then use a sculpting tool to dig away some
of the clay, down to the newspaper armature underneath.


Add bits of clay over the eyes for the brows, add some
for the nose, cheeks, and upper and lower lips, then
push it around with your sculpting tools until
you get a face you are happy with.

You don't need to try for a lot of detailed features here,
we want it to be kind of rough and "tree like".  We will
also be doing more to enhance the features after
the clay after it has dried.


Now there's just one more thing to do to the tree before it dries....

If you want to hollow out your
tree later, it will be easier to
accomplish if there's a hole in
the back.

With your craft knife cut gently
TO the newspaper, but not into it.
You will be able to feel this as you
cut, just go slowly in a sawing motion
along the clay.

There is wet newspaper underneath!  Leave it in place until the clay is dry.

Set tree aside to dry.  This might take a few days..........

NEXT PAGE - The wonderful possibility of awful things that can happen while your tree is drying....
and what to do with the tree when it is dry.

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