Sugar Shapers, even without the sugar!
August 23, 2016

Sugar Shapers, even without the sugar!

When I was experimenting with Sugar Shapers for the very first time, I learned something pretty cool- they work just as well for traditional art media as they do for edible media!

This opened worlds of possibilities for me. I'll be honest- I don't like baking. I love cake as art, but the hours of kitchen work ahead of time just to get to the sculpting part? Ugh. Last time I tried that I burnt through an entire season of Peaky Blinders on Netflix before I even got to the fondant.

But clay? Ok, it doesn't taste as good, but you get right to the fun part! And since it doesn't get eaten, you can show it off to your friends forever. 

It's also really great to be able to practice on something that doesn't go bad and can be reused. Clay or modeling compound are perfect for that, and Sugar Shapers work great with either.



So, I've been reading The Mists of Avalon recently and my mind is all aswirl with this ancient Druidic imagery- the Lady of the Lake, the Moon Goddess, the Horned One... you get the idea. I decided I wanted to sculpt the skull of the Horned One. (You know, in case the rite of the Ancient Challenge ever needs to be performed in my living room. It could happen...)

I used oven-bake polymer clay for this and started with just a big, round blob of clay. I first just made dots with my Bone Chisel Sugar Shaper to mark off where I wanted the eye sockets and nasal cavity to be. Then I used my firm-tip Bone Chisel (the orange shaper) to begin the eye sockets by pressing in and moving the shaper in increasingly large circles.

Continue widening your circles, letting the clay build up into a ridge outlining the sockets. Don't worry if your ridges get too high- you can blend them down later. Use the edge of your shaper to shape your sockets. Remember, eye sockets aren't perfect circles and no skull is perfectly symmetrical. Don't be afraid to give your skull some character.

For the nasal cavity, I used the larger end of my bone chisel to start the two sides of the cavity at its bottom, then switched to the smaller end of the chisel to extend the cavity upwards, narrowing to a rounded point at the top. Again, I let the clay build up a bit around the edges of the cavity, especially at the top. This top ridge of bone is what would be the bridge of the nose if flesh were present.

The teeth were the most fun part. I started with my Lip Chisel (the purple/periwinkle one). While this chisel was specifically designed to sculpt lips, it's surprisingly ideal for teeth, as well. If you press the whole chisel head into your clay, you get a really good tooth shape. I used the larger end and just stamped out a line of them.

I then went in with my Pointed Chisel and scraped out the clay in between the teeth. I smoothed down any rough edges this created with the edge of the shaper.

Next I used my soft tip Round Chisel (the green one) to add some dimension to the area where the teeth insert into the upper jaw bone. Press the tip of the chisel into the clay at the top of the tooth shape and pull outward just slightly.

Add some more dimension by using your bone chisel to make indentations in between each tooth and pull upward toward the nasal cavity. The teeth roots extend upward into the jawbone, leaving slight recesses in between each root. You can use either the firm or soft tips for this, depending on how much you want to exaggerate the gaps.

And just for fun, I roughed up the teeth a bit. I bent one front one in towards its partner, broke off pieces of a couple, and added a slightly jagged texture to the bottoms of them all.

Now we have our skull; it's time to make it the Horned One.

I took two little blobs of clay and stuck them to the upper sides of the skull, above and inward from the temples, for the horn bases. Lacking a convenient supply of deer antlers, I just used sticks from my yard. They'll be taken out when the clay is baked, but for now leave them in to hold the shape, I used my firm tip Pointed Chisel like a pencil to draw some texture lines onto the horn bases.

I decided my skull should have a crack above one of its eyes. (It's an ancient relic; it can't have survived all those year undamaged.) So I used my Pointed Chisel to draw on the crack and then my Square Chisel (the yellow one) to widen the crack and give it some depth.

Here's a really cool thing I learned with this project- your Bone Chisel is an eraser! I decided i made too many crack lines and wanted to back-track a bit. I used the larger end of my Bone Chisel and rubbed it gently back and forth over the unwanted lines, just like an eraser. And the lines just disappeared, completely smoothly.

And there's your skull of the Horned One! 

Add a little paint and some rose thorns and you're done!