Monday, July 18, 2011

Make a Fun Fish With Clay

As I was thumbing through a book about fish, I was amazed at all the funny fish names.  Then, I found a stonefish and decided since I play with clay, I should make a stonefish. Here are easy instructions to make a stonefish at home.
Clay (stoneware, terracotta or a non-hardening modeling clay will work)
*Slip (slurry made from old, dry clay and water to use as paste with stoneware or terracotta)
Items for adding texture like felt tip marker cap and paper clips
Old newspaper (if you are working with stoneware or terracotta)
Glass beads or marbles if you want to add bigger fish eyes to your fish

1.  Begin with 2 balls of clay the size of baseballs.   Make a pinch pot with one of the balls. If you are using stoneware clay, stuff the pinch pot with paper (it will burn in the firing).  Don’t close the pinch pot completely because it will be the fish’s mouth. Shape the piece so it looks like a stone or rock. 
2.  Make the eyes by rolling two pieces of clay into marble-sized balls. Use the top of a marker or other texture to imprint eyes on the balls of clay. 
3.  A stonefish has a funny tail instead of a tail fin. To create the fish’s tail, roll a five-inch coil that tapers at one end like a carrot.
4.  Using a knife, slice the thick end down the middle and press it onto the end of the fish’s body. Blend the tail piece into the body.*
5.  Attach a fin on the back of your fish by making a flat piece in the shape of a small triangle. You can place it at the base of the fish or on top of its head.
6.  Add two side fins by rolling a marble-sized piece of clay so it is tapered on one end and flatten it. Use a pencil to draw grooves in the clay like the lines on a fish’s fin. Attach to either side of your fish by pressing and blending the clay.*
7.  You can add texture for the fish’s scales with a pencil. A paper clip also works well for fish scales.
 8.  If you used stoneware clay, you can add glass or plastic marbles or beads to the eyes but wait until the piece is fired or they will melt in the kiln. If you are using non-hardening clay or dough, you can press sequins into your fish for scales or add beads to the eyes for more decoration.
*If you are working with stoneware or terracotta, you will need to use the slip as glue to attach each piece to your fish. Using the pencil, make scratch marks on both surfaces you will be joining. Apply the slip to the piece of clay you are adding and press the piece into place.

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