Once the painting was done, it was time for fun with the Dremel rotary tool. I had big plans for carving the background to look like bark, but carving turned out to be much more difficult than it sounded. After I removed the hard “skin” from the background with a rough diamond ball, I decided to leave it at that. The gourd was pretty hard, but actually uneven in hardness. I suspect that is quite normal, but it makes it difficult to do any sort of precise carving and since I am a novice, I decided that the texture was good enough. I sealed the textured portion with a clear acrylic brush-on sealer then proceeded to the next part – the roof.
In preparationn for the roof, I shaped a mound at the front to suggest a little porch roof over the entry hole. Apoxie Sculpt worked very well for this purpose. It stuck to the gourd and was easy to work with.
I thought I had sugar pine cones that I remembered ordering on e-bay a few years ago. When I found the cones they were smaller than I thought, and so the cone “petals” for the individual shingles were also smaller than I expected.
Removing the “petals” from the cones was a challenge. The first few rows at the base snapped off pretty easily with just my fingers, but after that they just wouldn’t budge. I didn’t have a small saw that would fit in the space and a craft knife was too unwieldy and seemed a bit dangerous on the slippery uneven surface. So I got out gardening clippers and clipped them off. I couldn’t get very close to the core, so the “shingles” were not very deep. This meant that the rows needed to be pretty close together.
I attached the pine cone shingles with E6000 glue, choosing that glue because it is thick and doesn’t run very much. But I needed thick blobs of glue because the back surface of the shingles was so uneven. Inevitably, some of the glue dripped and shows as shiny clear blobs. I’m hoping that finishing the roof with satin varnish will help disguise the glue by covering its shininess.
Since the top of the gourd narrows so much, I used narrower shingles here – the narrower ones that I was able to snap off at the base of the pine cones. This gave me longer shingles, so the upper rows can be farther apart.
When I was done with the roof, I was disappointed with it. Visually, it seemed too small. Then I remembered another wild flower from my youth – the May Apple.
I made a fairly large one from polymer clay to add to the roof. It will appear to be poking through the roof and hopefully solve my roof problem.
For strength, I used wire mesh between the upper and lower clay layers of the leaves and wire in the stems. When I’ve used wire before it’s been frustrating because the clay doesn’t stick to it. This time, I used electrical wire which is covered with plastic. And for the stem, I wrapped three lengths of wire together – for the two leaves and the flower – with florist tape. The clay stuck and it cured just fine at 265 degrees. I’ll use this technique in the future for armatures.