Well lots of artistic mayhem has been afoot lately and I finally got some time to sit down and do a blog post! I have been working with polymer clay and recycled materials as of late, and due to spring coming up I got growing things on the mind. Mushrooms and their appearance in artwork are a favorite of mine (not the use of to create art LOL). I had attempted to make mushrooms out of polymer clay in years past but was never completely happy with the feel or texture of the finished piece. This is where Sculpey’s Ultra Light and Sculpey’s Pluffy polymer clay came into play.
Ultra Light clay is well, ultra light, flexible when rolled thin, and you can use it for armatures and mix it with their other lines of clay. The down side is that when the clay warms up from handling it has a somewhat melted marshmallow feel and sticks to your hands if overworked. Pluffy (A new addition this year to the Sculpey family) has the same qualities, but with the addition of some rather nice colors and marketed towards children. On a whim I made a few mushrooms out the first block I got of the Ultra Light; while trying to mold it quick enough without warming the clay up too much was tricky, the outcome was worth it!
The mushrooms came out velvety soft, very easy to carve, paint and I could put a large amount of them on a diorama without adding unwanted weight. I quickly started to work out more designs and made up “species” of mushrooms for my scenes. What follows is a quick tutorial of how to make the “flat top” mushrooms (great for small polyclay critters and creations to sit on).
Grab a small chunk of Ultra Light or Pluffy and quickly make it into a elongated drumstick.
In a circular motion pinch the top portion of the drumstick until you have a flat top.
Don’t worry if it looks uneven, it looks more natural that way!
Now to add the “gills” of a mushroom (you don’t have to add these but I like to give it that added level of detail). Using a polymer cutting blade or a rigid thin piece of plastic depress into the clay until all the way around to form the gills, you can do that in your hand or on a cutting mat, just be careful if using a blade.
Now do tiny pinches and slight rolling edge to the mushroom, careful not to destroy the “gills”. Your mushroom should look something like this.
Some mushrooms might end up being longer than others, the nature of this clay is to slump a little in baking so put tooth picks in the stem of the larger mushrooms to maintain shape and give it strength. I like to carefully place them on ceramic heat proof tiles, place them in a polyclay designated cookie pan and bake according to manufacture instructions.
Once baked and cooled you can sand or carve any imperfections off. Now you are ready to paint and glitter if you would like. The mushrooms shown are the Pluffy Orange tint that are drying after a black color wash.
Always remember polymer clay that has been painted can have the paint damaged and nicked, so always put a sealant or glaze over the pieces to protect you work. I like to use Mod Podge Matte or Glossy (Sparkle Mod Podge could also be used for a fantasy feel) for the mushrooms, but use other products for other polymer projects.
Here the mushrooms are placed in a scene completely made from the Ultra Light. To get the texture of the “bark” I pressed Ultra Light into the trunk of a tree, baked it separate from the base, painted, sealed and covered the base in used ground tea leaves.
The wonderful part is that you can research more mushroom shapes and designs to try in in polymer clay by looking online, taking field trips into nature to take reference photos and checking your local Natural History Museum for collections!
Until next time safe travels! 🙂