We have all seen Chicken Run or watched programmes with Wallace and Gromit, Morph or other stop-motion animation figures and rolled on the floor in paroxysms of laughter at the antics of these marvels made of clay. Well now you too can create one of the most beloved of these figures in the comfort of your own home. Although you won't be able to move your figurine when it's finished, you will be able to marvel at him as he clutters up your work station. So just who are you going to create?
Pingu1 is a naughty little penguin immortalised in an eponymously titled stop-motion animation series which was created in the mid-1980s. Pingu lives in a little igloo with his mum, dad and baby sister, Pinga. There's nothing Pingu loves more than playing a game of fish tennis with his best pal Robby the Seal. Bog-standard children's fare, we hear you cry, but what makes Pingu stand head and shoulders above other stop-animation characters - apart from his uncanny ability to stretch himself to a great height - is the fact that he is not afraid to cry.
You'll be making your Pingu from Fimo or other modelling clay (though these may not bake as well as Fimo does). This stuff was very popular in the 1990s because it is easy to use, it doesn't crumble, but more importantly, it lets you exercise all those creative juices in the comfort of your own home. So read on to find out how a character from the 1980s and a material from the 1990s can make a great objet d'art for the new millennium...
Making your very own Pingu
For a Pingu of roughly 7.5cm stature, you will need:
- Fimo in black, orange, white and red
- Greaseproof paper
- Half a toothpick
- Artist's scalpel
- Infinite patience
Before embarking on creating your magical Pingu, it is best to prepare all the body parts in advance so that it soon becomes a matter of assembly. Firstly, create the extremities for your Fimo figure. To do this, draw out the shapes (described below) onto greaseproof paper to create a template. Once you have created this template, you can use these to cut out the Fimo shapes by using an artist's scalpel.
Once you have created the extremities, you should then move on to create the head and body parts. You should endeavour to get these into a shape and size that are proportional to each other and that you are happy with. The surfaces don't have to be silky smooth as you are adding bits and bobs to them that will cover them.
The Feet - two oblongs (1.5 x 3.5cm) with rounded corners made from orange Fimo.
The Wings - the shape you need for the wings is a little difficult to describe. If you a take an everyday computer mouse and look at it from the side, that is the shape you need - a wave with a flat bottom. Once you have got this shape you need to cut two of them out in black Fimo with a length of no longer than 4.5cm.
The Breastplate - this needs to be a flat-bottomed ellipse made from white Fimo which should measure 4.5cm from the bottom to the rounded pinnacle.
The Eyes - for these you'll need two small white discs (about the circumference of the eraser on the end of a pencil) on to which you should place two smaller black discs. Arrange the discs to suit the mood of your Pingu (cross-eyed, etc).
The Nose - you'll need a red blob of Fimo in a similar size and shape to the end of a Bic biro.
The Head and the Body
Both the head and the body need to be created from black Fimo. It is best to create these last as you can use the left over bits from the wings you have created.
The Head - the head should be the size of an enormous Malteser or an average Brussel sprout - ie, it should have a height no greater than 2.5cm.
The Body - this should be the same shape as an everyday egg, but the bottom should be flattened off and it shouldn't be any greater in height than 5cm.
Assembling your Pingu
Start by assembling the head and face. Position the nose/beak about 3/4 way down the 'face' of the head part. Once you have put this in place, arrange the eyes up and to the right and left of this. Voilà! Your Pingu has a face that you can start to love.
Once you have created your head, insert half of the half-toothpick into the centre of the head - you'll insert the other half into the body of your Pingu later.
Now for the body. Taking the body of your Pingu in one hand and the white breastplate in the other, line up the flat bottom of one with the flat bottom of the other. Then slowly and smoothly, gently lay the breastplate over the body and then smooth down the edges so that it is fixed to the body. This should leave a black arch above the breastplate.
It is at this point that you should attach the feet in a way that you feel is most becoming for a penguin. (If you are feeling particularly creative, you can arrange the feet and wings in such a way as to make your Pingu appear as if he is dying for the toilet, for example).
The wings allow for the most creativity for your Pingu - you can arrange them in any way, shape or form as you see fit but you should attach them where the breastplate meets the body and ensure that at least half of the wing is attached to the body - the other half can flap in any direction you choose.
Your Pingu is now ready for its final assembly, which means sticking the head onto the body of the Pingu by using the toothpick and then delicately putting it into the oven and baking it according to the instructions on the packet.
You can now display your Pingu where you see fit. This Researcher recommends putting it on your work space - where it can be admired/ridiculed from near and afar...