Polymer People

As I’ve mentioned before, one of my favorite hobbies is working in polymer clay.  (See WW 4-18-12, Messing Up.)  Lately, with Artemis Awakening turned in to Tor, I’ve been allowing myself some craft time.  I find that doing such actually loosens up my brain and gets it ready for writing something new.

Three Inches Tall (or Less)

Three Inches Tall (or Less)

For the last year or so, I’ve been running a role-playing game for some friends.  I decided that it would be fun to make something to use at those times when it’s helpful to know who is standing where in relation to what. I didn’t want to use commercial gaming miniatures because these are quite small, intended more for games where military tactics and combat are essential.  These also work best when everyone is seated around the same table, because they are quite small.  When we play, we’re spread out around the room.

At first, I was merely going to make some colored pawns, similar to those used for board games, from scrap clay.  Then I saw a design for  figures to use in a miniature theater.  These were pretty simple, not much more than cones with heads and arms.  I thought I could make these, adding the flourish of  hair and eyes of the proper color for each character.

I started with Jim’s character, Marcus.  (In the photo, he’s the guy with the mustache.)  Rapidly, I discovered my fingers were a lot more ambitious than I had realized.  “Marcus” did not want to be a cone with a head and arms.  He wanted to look more like a proper person.

For years, I’ve been reading books on modeling polymer clay figures.  I’ve done some projects, carefully following the instructions.  Overall, I’ve been happy with the end results, but I’d never felt confident enough to do anything more ambitious than, say, change a blond into a brunette.  Now, maybe because the characters were so vivid in my imagination, I decided to try flying solo.

The challenge turned out to be a lot of fun.  I asked my players for a few extra details – such as heights relative to each other and whether their character would be a flashy or conservative dresser.    I double-checked eye and hair color.  Two characters, for example, were both in my notes as having blond hair, but one was a golden blond while the other was white blond.  One had somewhat darker skin than the others, because she came from a different ethnic group.

The character Raphael has a kitten that won’t leave him alone.  The cat looks a lot like our cat Kwahe’e, including distinctive white rings on a black tail.  Since the tallest figures are only three inches high, this means the cat is less than a half inch from ear tip to paw tip.

Each character offered its own challenges.  One I had particular fun with was Perdita – a girl who had grown up with a mummer’s troop and dresses very colorfully in her spare time.  Because Perdita is the shortest, her figure is only two-and-a-half-inches tall, so I had to fit a lot into very little space.

The final embellishment on each figure were tiny “gems.”  Some, like Marcus’s earring (he’s a fashion hound), are so tiny that they are about the size of the dot made by a freshly sharpened pencil point.  Some were larger, positioned as pendants or in belt buckles.  Each character got at least a few gems, from a dark purple, almost black for Raphael (he’s a bit somber) to a randomly placed sprinkling of brilliance for Perdita.

The project was a lot of fun, not only for the end result, but also for the feeling that I’d expanded my horizons, learning in the process that I was capable of much more than I had dared imagine.

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3 Responses to “Polymer People”

  1. Susan J. Bannister Says:

    I loved this blog–crafts are so relaxing, and as you said they can lead to being more productive with your true craft of writing. My grandmother was a wonderful water color and oil painter and I have her paintings on my walls at home. I just happened to be born on her birthday. Edith always interested me with her mixing of colors to come up with a new color. She immigrated to U.S. in about 1903 from London, England with my grandfather, who owned one of the first pharmacies in Toledo. Happy Spring and Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Give your mother, Barbara, my kind regards.

  2. Tori Says:

    They’re all so cute! 🙂 I love being inspired by the stories I’m reading or, in this case, playing.

  3. janelindskold Says:

    Inspiration comes in a lot of strange ways, doesn’t it?

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