New ETSY Shop

I have now opened an ETSY shop (www.etsy.com/uk/shop/NickyClacy) selling some of my sculptures.  At the moment it includes some wall hares in six different designs.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES I will be adding more items as the weeks go along, but please take a look and let me know what you think.

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Trojan Horse Tutorial

I have been asked many times how I make my sculptures, so here is a tutorial on how to make my latest pieces – the Trojan horses.

Please note that I am not a carpenter (as you will probably notice when you read further down) but using balsa wood is so simple that if I can do it, anyone can.

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First start off by drawing a basic design of what you want.  This will help with working out sizes for ears, legs, etc.

Cut some balsa wood to size for the base and four dowels for the legs.  After marking out where you want the legs to be, insert screws into the balsa wood.  I found it easier to use a needle to make sure that I got the angle right as I didn’t want the legs to go straight up at a 90ᵒ angle.

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For the dowels, drill holes into the centre of them first so that you don’t split the wood when you put the screws in.

Add some wood glue to the dowels and screw them into place on the base at an angle of about 35ᵒ.

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Do the same with the other three legs.

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For added strength, I used some balsa wood pieces which I glued and screwed onto the tops of the legs to make sure it was really secure.

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For the body, get a small square of chicken wire and mould it onto the balsa wood, tying it with wire and string to make sure that it is solid and secure.

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Mould a head out of chicken wire and attach it to the body.

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Cover the wire structure with masking tape – this is so that the paper mache clay sticks to the framework that you’ve made.

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To embellish your horse with beads, first work out the spacing using a ruler.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you want it to be nicely spaced.

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Spread the pulp onto the horse armature and press the beads into it while it is still wet.  I had to leave a gap at the back for the tail (which I should have made earlier).  Also the head was too big in this photo, so I took the pulp off and made the head smaller before putting the pulp back on.

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Black beads were pressed into the wet pulp for eyes.  I made the ears by moulding pulp with my fingers and left it to dry before sanding and pressing them into the wet pulp. Apologies for the different colour beads –  I made two horses, but I kept forgetting to take photos of the red one.

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For the mane, get 1/4 teaspoon sized piece of pulp and mould it into shape.

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Do several of these and attach them onto the horses head.  If the pulp is getting a bit dry, add a bit of water.

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For the tail, get some embroidery thread, cut the ends and then tie some thread around the top (a bit like a tassle).

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Soak it in PVA glue.

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Mould it into shape and leave it to dry.  I used a bottle to rest it on so that when it dried it would be an arched shape.

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Once dry, insert the tail into place and mould pulp around it to close the gap.  The tail remains quite flexible, but you can always put more PVA to harden it a bit more.

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Once the sculpture is dry, it is ready for painting.  First paint it with a bright gold paint.

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When dry, take some black emulsion paint and with a cloth, dab the black paint onto the gold, rubbing it in until it gives a bronze effect.

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If it’s too dark, just rub over it with a wet cloth, even when it’s dry.  It’s only emulsion paint, so it comes off quite easily.

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For the wheels, I bought these from Etsy (ReminiscencePapers).  They cost me just under £20.00 for eight which included shipping from the USA (which I thought was very good value to be honest).  Paint them with enamel paint and leave them to dry.  I had to give these several coats as the paint I bought was quite thin.

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To attach the wheels, measure out two pieces of wire which are slightly longer than the base.  Bend one end around to form a hook, this will keep the wheels from falling off.

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Slot two wheels on (back to back) and bend the other end of the wire around to form another hook.

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Mark onto the base where you want the wheels to go and make a groove in the balsa wood for the wire to go into.

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Glue another piece of balsa wood onto this, also with grooves made so that the two pieces of balsa wood stick flat together.

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Your Trojan horse is now finished.

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Big Boots

In mid July I was contacted by Clare who works for the NHS Borders.  They are trying to raise money to build a respite unit at the Borders General Hospital, near Edinburgh.

A nurse called Margaret Kerr had left £500,000 in her will towards building the unit , so they were going to name it after her.

Clare had this idea about making a large pair of baseball boots, complete with laces, to launch the appeal.  She contacted me to ask if I could do them.

Always up for the challenge (but always a bit nervous that I can’t rise to that challenge) I gave her a quote for making such items.

After getting the go-ahead, I started to make the biggest pair of boots that I have ever seen.   I started by cutting out a large pair of soles.

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Then my husband Harry, my mum Joyce and me went about building up the boots with wire mesh.  We covered the mesh with cardboard on both sides to strengthen it and then covered it with 9 layers of newspaper strips and PVA glue.  Our neighbours Carol and Ken very kindly lent me their garage to house one of the boots, while the other was to sit on our dining table in the kitchen/diner.

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After what seemed like months, the boots were dry and ready for painting.  Clare wanted the Margaret Kerr logo on each side of each boot, so these had to be hand drawn on and then painted.

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After this, the boot was painted in the pantone colour given by Clare and the boot lace holes were put in.  The laces were to be made by a banner company.

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Once the boots were dry, they were brought together for their first photo shoot before being delivered up to Scotland.

For more information on the Margaret Kerr appeal, please visit http://www.thedifference.org.uk/the-margaret-kerr-unit-appeal

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‘We’re All Mad Here’

Talk about all or nothing.  I don’t do a blog for months, then do two at once.

Never mind, you don’t have to read both together.

I have just finished the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party sculptures for Burton Constable Hall (www.burtonconstable.com) near Hull and they are now in place.

I won’t show you all of it as I would really like you to go and see it – and living a long way away is no excuse.  No, seriously, I realise that East Yorkshire is the ‘back of beyond’ so I will include lots of pictures.

This exhibition has taken a lot of time to do as I am a bit!! of a perfectionist, but I have enjoyed doing it so much.  Saying that, though, I am quite pleased that it is finished as it was taking over my life a bit.

In the 1960’s, Burton Constable Hall put on an exhibition of Alice in Wonderland.  The artist was a gentleman called Bill Sillince who later became a cartoonist for Punch magazine and later still a lecturer at Hull Regional College of Art.  My work is inspired by him and by the drawings of John Tenniel who did the original illustrations for the book by Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Ludwig Dodgson).

So here they all are in all their papier mache glory, with proper clothing, done by my mum Joyce Chapman as I was running out of time (but couldn’t have done as good a job anyway).

I made the white rabbit first.  I am very fortunate to live in Beverley which is a lovely old town with two beautiful churches, one of which (St Mary’s) is said to be the inspiration for the white rabbit.

Alice was quite difficult to do as, those who do papier mache know, it dries uneven which is great for animals as it resembles fir, but if you are doing a sculpture of a seven year old girl, you don’t really want her to look that wrinkly.  Anyway, she does a bit, but that is the nature of the material.

Mad Hare

The hare I could have added more and more detail.  He has carrot cufflinks and is wearing a PDSA badge of a hare (funnily enough).

Cheshire Cat looking on

What can I say about the Hatter other than he looks quite mad which is appropriate.

Last but not least - the doormouse

This exhibition is on until 8th September; after that I will be displaying it at the Friary in Beverley as part of the Heritage Weekend on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th September and the open studios in October.

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Me in a book

Early last year I was contacted by a brilliant photographer called Derek Reay (www.derekreayphotography.co.uk).  He was compiling a book on a variety of different artists and craftspeople from around the country, the money for which was to be donated to Diabetes UK.  He wanted to include a papier mache artist and wondered if I would like to be included.  Of course I said yes as it’s not everyday that someone rings you up with that question.
He came down in May and asked me how I got started and about my methods.  Well the book is out now and available from www.amazon.co.uk.  It is ironic really because my husband is a diabetic so for the money to go to that charity is great.
This book is really interesting with every craft that you can imagine, some of which are unfortunately dying out now.  This is a great record for the future though, of which I am proud to play a part.

There is also an exhibition travelling the country:
Leeds (Central Library)
Municipal Buildings, Calverley Street, Leeds  LS1  3AB
Saturday 2nd July to Wednesday 27th July
Bath (Central Library)
19 The Podium, Northgate Street, Bath BA1 5AN
Tuesday 16th August to Friday 26th August
Multi story car park in the Centre
London (The Chelsea Gallery in the Chelsea Old Town  Hall)
King’s Road, London SW3 5EZ
Tuesday 13th September to Sunday 25th September
There is limited space at this venue and not all images can be  displayed.
I will also attend on Sunday 25th  September.
St Ives/Redruth (exhibition split between  venues)
St Ives Library, Gabriel Street, St Ives, TR26 2LU
The Cornish Centre, Alma Road, Redruth TR15 2AT
Tuesday 4th October to Friday 14th October
Cambridge (The Central Library, The Grand  Arcade)
7 Lion Yard, Cambridge CB2 3QD
Tuesday 18th October to Saturday 29th  October
Car park: The Corn Exchange Street, Cambridge EB2 3QJ
There is limited space at this venue and not all images can be  displayed.
Winchester (Discovery Centre)
Jewry Street, Winchester SO23 8SB
Wednesday 2nd November to Friday 25th November
Car Park: adjacent to venue
There is limited space at this venue and not all images can be  displayed.
Leominster (Library)
8 Buttercross, Leominster HR6 8BN
Wednesday 30th November to Friday 16th December
Car park adjacent to venue
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