Building on Something Old

Last summer, in preparation for a workshop I was going to teach on polymer clay mosaics, I began this piece as a sample.  At that point, the serpent wasn.t there.  The two panels to the sides of the angel were hinged and in a position angled up from the base.

I didn’t do anything more with it  – just put it aside where it kicked around in the studio rubble for several months.  A few weeks ago when I was cleaning up a pile of stuff, I found this piece buried in a stack of photos and clippings.  The hinged side panels as well as the center angel panel had come loose.  I put the pieces aside, not sure what to do with them.

But then I became inspired to repair the piece and enter it in the 3D show that Placerville Arts Association is putting on.  Intake is a week from tomorrow, in fact.

As I looked at it, I felt that I wanted to do more with the piece and that I also wanted to move a bit away from the straight-forward icon look.  My inspiration was to put a serpent emerging from behind the hinged panels – temptation always lurks in the background!  He was quite fun to make.

I used metal foil on polymer clay for the upper side of the body – laying the leaf on a sheet of clay then rolling it thinner and thinner.  That breaks up the leaf as the clay beneath it stretches and yields a look a bit like reptile skin.  For the belly, which shows only a little, I made a Skinner Blend from very dark brown and white.  I then cut thin strips from the blend and arranged them on end, side to side, and alternating the dark end on the left, then on the right, and so on.  After pressing the strips firmly together, I rolled the resulting slab through the pasta machine at successively thinner settings.  By rolling the stripes perpendicular to the machine, the strips retained their width as the sheet of clay got thinner and thinner.  I used the center part of the thinned sheet for the belly – very cool!  I used marvelous glass eyes from, a stryle with a marquis shapes pupil – just like a serpent’s eyes.  This is a generic serpent – looking very much like a snake but with legs.  I cured the fangs and claws separately then set them into the uncured serpent and settled them in with a little liquid clay.

The serpent clutches a peach in the coil of his tail.  Tempting, right!  More so, for me anyway, than an apple.

I still have farther to go before I’m finished.  I’m going to float this panel above a slightly larger one.  The back, larger panel will be painted like a night sky, dark at the top and lightening toward the bottos, with an owl flying the the upper left corner.  By the way, this piece has a nice metallic finish.  I used mica powders on the polymer clay and metallic and interference paints on the painted areas. 

I think I’ve improved the piece by adding more symbolism and achieving a bit of an air of mystery.


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