Exploring the possibilities with polymer clay!

The Deerclayer

by Arlene Groch

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It all started when my son Mike called from San Diego, and asked if I would cover a resin deer’s head with clay to hang on the wall of his office.
When I stopped laughing,  I realized he was serious.   Always game for a challenge,  I agreed.  He sent me the head; it came broken.  That gave me a spare ear to test in the oven.   The ear didn’t melt or send us running out of the house to escape poisonous fumes.  So I called Mike and told him to send me another head.    He must have really wanted this badly because the second head arrived in the next few days.  
Mike  wanted the deer covered with a hounds-tooth pattern.  I scoured the Internet for ideas and found a tutorial for a hounds-tooth cane.   I made some samples and Mike chose  the plain pattern without the red silk screened design.   I smeared the deer with Genesis and then covered all of its skin/fur with a medium thickness of “junk” clay.  Then I  applied the cane slices all over the deer’s head, chest and ears blending in the seams of each section to match the pattern.   I blended the seams of each section together using Dan Cormier’s rag paper smoothing technique. 
When Mr. Deer was ready for curing (some 30-40 hours after his arrival at our home) I had to use our regular kitchen oven because Mr. Deer’s head was too big for my convection oven.   I  settled him on a cookie sheet, wrapped him in tented tin foil and baked him for about 45 minutes at 300 degrees.    I added a few clay patches on missed spots behind the ears, and some very thinly sliced canes where needed to  improve the overall design.   I cured those with a heat gun.
Mr. Deer was ready for sanding.  Rough sanding to clean him up and smooth a few bumps  was all the sanding I felt a deer deserved,  no matter how cute.
After a good apres-sanding  bath,  it was time to finish him off.   I applied three coats of matte red Golden paint to his antlers.   I tried clay tips on the antlers, but both  Mike and the Deer felt that it was too much so off they came.
 
Following Mr. Deer’s final photo session, George and I escorted took him  to the Fed Ex office for some serious bubble wrapped, double boxed packaging and sent him off via ground transportation to his new home across the country.  When the Fed Ex guy asked for a value for insurance purposes, and I just laughed and told him, “A week of Mother Love — it’s invaluable”.
I hope you enjoyed Mr. Deer’s journey, and do say a prayer [or just send some good vibes] for his safe arrival.   And now for the pictures

 

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Comments on: "The Deerclayer" (13)

  1. kathryn corbin said:

    what a whacky family! No wonder I love you! Mr. Deer is stunning!

  2. Priceless!

  3. living in deer country I thought I had seen it all. this is great love and am sending best wishes.

  4. Great job, Arlene!
    This looks like a contest folks – What is the strangest thing you have covered with polymer clay?

  5. […] In a post on the Philadelphia guild site Arlene explains how she covered and baked the beast. Arlene doesn’t divulge what kind of business her son is in. Aren’t you curious to see how the mounted head looks in place? […]

  6. Amazing what mother love can do!
    Mr.Deer looks great, Arlene!

  7. Wonderful – Polymer Clay to the rescue – LOL!! Just when you think you’ve heard it all … I love this story Arlene. Thanks so much for sharing.

  8. Linda Dixon said:

    That deer could live in Tuscaloosa, AL with no problem 🙂

  9. Consuelo Okdie said:

    Excellent! I just love Mr. Deer, Arlene. Congratulations on him being featured in PCD.

  10. Hollie McCollister said:

    Love your Mr. Deer!! Positive thoughts that he made it to Cali. Please post a pic when he’s hung on the wall of your son’s choosing. What a great mom you must be!

  11. […] Groch, AKA The Deerclayer is also the founder and main force behind Clayathon which just celebrated its 10th year.   Philly […]

  12. […] photos show a few stages of the process and the finished object.   Mr. Steer is a bit smaller than last year’s Mr. Deer, so he probably won’t bring in as much as the $700 Mr. Deer raised for this worthy cause, but […]

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