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There may be a reason Epimetheus chose clay

October 10, 2009

Now it's starting to look like something.

Now it's starting to look like something.

It’s been slow on the actual “making stuff” front here for a while, but I promise this has nothing to do with waning interest or massive difficulty and everything to do with my magpie personality. I’ve managed to avoid further Etsy adventures (at least of the paper mache variety), and I’ve also been spending a lot of time gearing up for National Novel Writing Month in November, but every day that damn rabbit form had been staring me in the face from on top of my very small television, eyelessly pleading for the rest of its body parts. After coming away somewhat poorer from a gardening center today, I found that with a little scissor action, the plastic bags they gave me for my new pot and potting soil would do nicely for a protective floor mat. The thing is you can’t overthink these revelations when you’re graced with them, and so off to work on the semi-demi-rabbit I went.

The feet make all the difference!

The feet make all the difference!

What had been irritating me most was the rabbit’s feet. The front legs will go on after the base is really solid, as will the ears, but since the hind legs are essential to how the piece balances, I wanted to get those in place before I even put on my initial layers. They’d been sort of haphazardly taped into place, but that was easy enough to secure. A rabbit needs big paws, though, and that proved a touch trickier. The paws were formed from wadded up newspaper wrapped in masking tape (well, one was; the first is made of the tissue paper from the front of a pair of high heels — everything has a use), but they weren’t attaching very readily to the legs, made from two halves of a toilet paper tube.

The way around this (and I really wish I’d taken pictures, but I appear to have been too pleased with myself to have thought that far) is chopsticks. You may have dozens of them hanging out in a drawer from take-out meals, in the vain hope (if you’re me) that someday you’ll master eating with them. These suckers are, craft-wise, worth their weight in gold. I took a very lightweight stick, cut it in half, coated each end with glue and poked it through the rabbit’s paw and its leg. As there’s no such thing as too much masking tape, I then secured it further, filling in any gaps with small crumpled pieces of newspaper.

Rabbit project (early stage) bottom solutionThe top had already gotten a few layers, and the head was pretty much where I wanted it to be, thanks to drying it propped up against a soda bottle. With the legs attached, I was able to (ahem) attack the bottom. The rabbit bravely endured a somewhat undignified position for the sake of shoring up its lower half, and I was able to add some layers everywhere but the tip of the muzzle and the fronts of the paws. I’m quite sure no one overthinks quite like this, but to me it became kind of a fun exercise in spatial problem-solving. Your instinct is to approach the project as it will be when it’s finished, upright. But unlike clay, you have the ability to upend your piece, lean it against things, leave it out in odd positions and tackle it from a variety of angles without worrying too much if it’ll get deformed in the process.

Rabbit project (early stage) detailTwo more notes before I sign off: first, notice how rough the layers are in the beginning. The rabbit’s head is covered with lumps and bubbles and and exposed ends and pieces of paper that aren’t lying flat. Don’t sweat it. This takes care of itself as the piece progresses. The more layers you add, the more uniform it will become. Be sure, though, that you’re smoothing out each strip as you lay it down. When it doubt, slather on a little more paste.

The second note involves clean-up. Plastic bags are your friend. I almost didn’t post these pictures, because the bags I used were clear and I didn’t want it to look like I was encouraging just messing around on your floor. Here’s why:

This is why it's good to use protection.

This is why it's good to use protection.

Make it easy on yourself. For now, I’m pausing just long enough to update and then start on my jewelry box while the rabbit dries. Happy crafting!

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