She was my entry for the Polymer Clay Smooshers Guild of Art Fire’s January challenge, which had an Asian theme. I’m so glad I decided to enter this challenge. I’d been thinking about trying to sculpt a woman in a sari for a long time, but I kept putting it off. I love doing sculpture: it’s wonderful to watch a character emerge from blobs of clay.
Polymer clay has been called “the chameleon clay” because it can mimic so many things so beautifully – stone, metal, wood, etc. It also works great as fabric. For Didimaa’s attire, I started by dressing her in a blouse and petticoat:
(This is a good shot for showing scale, since she’s sitting on an Altoids tin and resting her foot on a cookie cutter.) I wasn’t sure, at this point, what color to make the background of the sari fabric. So I went upstairs and did dishes for awhile. Problems often seem to solve themselves at inconvenient times, like when I’m up to my elbows in dishwater, but only half done the chore. Sigh.
So, when I came back down to the studio, I’d decided to go with green’s compliment, red. I didn’t want it to look Christmasy, though, so I chose a kind of pinky red. I chopped up some red and dark pink Cernit and added some translucent Fimo, in hopes of making the finished sari a bit transparent. That didn’t work too well – next time I’ll use more of the translucent. I also added a bit of green Cernit to tone down the pink a little. Here’s the beginning of the sari:
After a few passes through my pasta machine, and the application of a few cane slices and gold trim, that mess up there turned into this:
(Canes, for those of you who don’t play with clay, are logs of clay that have a picture running through it, so that the cross section of the log shows the picture. Ever buy those tubes of cookie dough at the grocery store that have a picture of a ducky or a chick on each slice? Same idea. Here’s a better explanation, with pictures. The paisleys and patterned dots on the sari fabric are cane slices. The gold dots are just smooshed balls of clay. )
This fabric was still too thick, and the decorations needed to be smoothed into the background, so back to the pasta machine it went. After a few more passes, it was as thin as I could make it, and starting to stick to itself. Trying to drape 15″ of extremely thin, sticky clay into a sari around a seated figure was, um, a challenge. (I would have used a stronger word, but my mom is probably reading this….) Next time, the figure will be standing. And holding her arms out to the side. And on a bigger scale!
She still needed jewelry, make up and something to sit on. I made her a little polymer clay stool for her foot to rest on, and a seat, covered with more polymer clay fabric decorated with another paisley cane.
Make up and nail polish are painted on with acrylic paint. Jewelry is jump rings and the chain off a bracelet that’s supposed to keep you from losing it if the clasp breaks.
I think I might need to make some grandkids for her to be telling a story to!
Update: My good friend Tammi just returned from her winter break trip to visit her hubby’s family in India, and she gently pointed out that “Didimaa” is not spelled “Deedeema,” as I’d first spelled it. I also tied the sari a bit goofy, as the part going over the left shoulder should be going over the right and it should cover her chest more. Next time….!