Join the Q: Adventures in Plasticine
Regular readers will know I've recently been doing some art but always in two dimensions. When I discovered a model making kit inspired by two of my favourite animated characters, Wallace and Gromit by Nick Park, I decided to have a go at creating something in three dimensions.
The word Plasticine immediately makes me think of the blob of dingy grey-brown modelling clay I had as a child, that I would sometimes unearth from the bottom of the toybox to make aliens out of before recycling my work into blob form again. Thus it was that just opening the new model making kit box was a pleasure, to see the bright unsullied colours of fresh Plasticine.
One thing that did surprise me was the smell - my old blob had been well conditioned by hand grease and food crumbs to have lost most of its pungency, but the fresh new blocks of Plasticine made me cough when the oily fumes reached my nose. I moved to a better-ventilated place and then looked at the instructions.
Rather ambitiously I decided to try modelling Gromit first because he is my favourite character (in particular we both know how to knit). To my surprise, I hadn't been given Gromit-coloured Plasticine, but I was given the recipe of how to mix the colour from brown and white Plasticine. Strangely, while Plasticine is renowned for turning grey-brown almost as soon as you look at it, my attempt to mix two fresh colours together didn't go particularly well. I did like the marbled effect, though, and so after five minutes of mixing, with aching smelly hands, I decided to move on to the next step in the instructions.
Cleverly, plastic plug-in pieces had been provided, and they worked very well. I made a rough ovoid body shape and when I pushed the legs into position they forced the body into the perfect shape for Gromit. Similarly with the head, adding the eyes, nose and ears helped the head to look right (although admittedly my version of Gromit does have rather a startled expression). There is plenty of room for improvement in my modelling skills, but I was pleasantly surprised to have been able to produce something that looked at least something like Gromit.
Next I checked the instructions for other characters. Wallace was much more of an ambitious project, needing pink and white clay to be mixed to create his head, as well as green clay to be shaped and decorated for his tank top and a mixture of black and white clay to be moulded for his trousers. I decided not to attempt that. Similarly Preston the robotic dog needed brown, white and black clay to be mixed for his body, so that was also not something I felt like doing.
Feathers McGraw, the penguin disguised as a chicken, was a much more appealing prospect. One whole block of black Plasticine was just what was needed to create his body, along with a small piece of white Plasticine for his front. It didn't take me too long to mould the right shapes, then I plugged in the two plastic wings, the legs, and the beak (which I also used to create two holes for Feathers' eyes). The tiny rubber glove on his head finished the sculpture and he looked remarkably like the real thing!
Now I will pass the kit on to someone else who should appreciate it very much. They will discover my Feathers McGraw, will be able to mix the colours for Gromit much better than I managed, as I've given them a head start, and will have two new models to make as well! 'Share and enjoy'!