Monday, August 1, 2011

Clay Flies in August

August brings the flies of summer to the Midwest. You find them everywhere – inside and outside. They’re everywhere you don’t want them to be. But if you look close, they’re actually pretty funny with their skinny legs and big eyes.  I’ve found they’re kind of fun to make with clay so give this clay project a try.

Clay (stoneware, terracotta or non-hardening modeling clay will work)
*Slip (slurry made from old, dry clay and water to use as paste with stoneware or terracotta)
Fiberglass screen, a 12-inch square

1.       Start with two balls of clay. One should be the size of a golf ball and the other should be the size of a walnut.
2.       Using the larger ball, make an oval with a pointy end.  Press your thumb into the middle and push the sides out to make a pinch pot.
3.       Turn the pinch pot upside down so the open part is resting on your work surface. Use a seed pod, peach pit or other texture on the outside of the pinch pot to add texture to the fly’s body.
4.       Using bits of clay from the smaller ball make a one-inch coil with tapered ends and attach it to the front end of your fly like a nose. Make a small rectangle for the mouth and place it underneath the coil.*
5.       To make eyes, I used two large flat marbles. You can use marbles, clay or buttons to make the eyes. Press them on either side of the nose above the rectangle you made for the mouth.
6.       Make two short coils (about ¾ inch), flatten them and wrap one around each eye.* Use a pencil to put marks along the coil and press it to the head of the fly. You can add three or four small balls of clay behind each coil to add more depth to the eyes. You know flies have really big eyes!
7.       Make five more small clay balls and put them down the center of the back of your fly to segment the body.
8.       To make legs, roll two thin coils two inches long. Bend them and add one on either side of the body.*
9.       Use the screen to make the wings for the fly. Cut two pieces about two inches by one inch. Make slits behind the tiny balls on the body and insert the wings there.

*If you are working with stoneware or terracotta, you will need to use slip as glue to join some of the pieces of your fly. Using a pencil, make scratch marks on both surfaces you will be joining. Apply slip to the piece of clay you are adding and press the piece into place.

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