Monday, November 22, 2010

Weeping Angel Christmas Tree Topper!

I must apologize for the lack of updates. My computer is still on the fritz, but I hope that the problem will be fixed this weekend!

But I think my computer being down might be a good thing because I've been able to accomplish a lot: Christmas cards, presents, ornaments. But most importantly, at least for me, I've been able to finish my Weeping Angel Christmas Tree topper! The Weeping Angels are adversaries of The Doctor from Doctor Who and my favorite villains! I saw an idea for this on Craftster (here) and decided to alter it a bit to use as a Christmas tree topper.

To see the tutorial, read on!

List of Materials

·         A Barbie or generic fashion doll
·         2 packages of Staedtler FIMO Air Basic Modeling Clay (For the wings, I used this clay, but would recommend using an oven bake clay instead. If you choose to do this, then reduce the amount of air-dry clay to one package.)
·         A plastic bottle (You want to make sure that the plastic bottle is either a Dasani or Coca Cola bottle or one shaped like it. The difference is that the Dasani water bottle isn't as bulky on top as most soda bottles. Trust me! It makes a difference!)
·         Packing or masking tape
·         Small pliers/tweezers
·         Modeling clay tools OR a seam ripper and small paint brush
·         Black and white paint
·         Gray spray paint (optional)
·         Glue gun
·         Plastic bags or newspaper or stuffing
·         A bowl of water

The Doll

 First step is demolishing a Barbie doll! (Go ahead and have fun with this part ;) ) To prep the doll, you're going to rip her legs off. Next you're going to chop off all her hair. Using small pliers or tweezers, you want to yank out all the small pieces you have left.

I probably should put a disclaimer here. I'm not very experienced with clay. :P Actually, this was my first project using it since I was a kid. If you have experience with clay and have a better way, feel free to use it (and be sure to tell me!). But I'm overall happy with how it turned out, so I’m sharing how I did it. Also, because you’re using air-drying clay on the doll, you want to have a bowl of water nearby so you can wet the clay while you’re working because it will start to dry quickly. That being said, you also don’t want to have it sopping wet.

To sculpt the hair you're going to take a rolled ball of clay and press it on her head, sculpting it to look like the hair. For the hair detail, I used a seam ripper (the point works really well) to draw it in. To make it 3d, I took small sections and just rounded them out with my fingers.

For the back of the hair, I tried making the bun directly on the hair and it fell off when it dried, so I ended up making it separate. I rolled out the clay into a long strand then wound it around, making a bun, then glued it on when dried.

Now for the arms. You want to cut the arms off at the elbows. You're going to reposition the arms so that the hands cover the eyes, then with your glue gun, glue the arms back together where you cut them off. I know that it looks funny, but don't worry about that for now. You can also glue the hands to the face, if you want to make it sturdier. I chose not to because I wanted to be able to move her arms when people aren't looking to freak them out. ;) Okay, after your glue dries you're going to use some your air-drying clay to mold new elbows. Make sure it's nice and smooth (I didn't and fixing it was a pain.).

Now your Barbie bodice is ready to be transformed into a Weeping Angel.

For this next part, I'm going to tell you to do it the opposite of what I did because I screwed it up and had to re-do it -- because of the plastic bottle! TRUST ME ON THIS! GET ONE LIKE THE ONE PICTURED BELOW! Why is this so important? Because if you use the other one, you’ll end up with a pregnant Weeping Angel.

(Some of the pictures will show the first bottle I used. Ignore it and pretend it's the right bottle.) Using the utility knife, *very carefully* cut off the top of the mouth of the bottle and the very bottom of the bottle (Kids, have your parents do this!). Then you're going to insert the doll into the bottle, so now she looks like she's wearing a skirt. Using your packing tape, position the doll where you want her, so the "skirt" looks right and tape the doll to the bottle.

Now you're going to use your air modeling clay to form her skirt. (Remember to have your bowl of water handy for this! You'll need it!) Stuff the bottom of the skirt with plastic bags, newspaper or whatever you want, to make the bottle sturdier. Take about half the clay of one package and roll it out, making it nice and flat and about quarter of an inch (.25) thick. Then roll it onto the bottle skirt. To make the folds in fabric, I rolled out several, long tear drop shaped strands and put them randomly on the skirt, using my hands and the end of a paint brush to mold them onto the skirt. I didn't put many in the back, but mainly focused on the front and the sides. It doesn't have to be perfect, since it's not in real life. Let this dry before doing anything else. For me, it took about a day and a half to dry completely.

(Ignore the white paint)

When it's completely dried you can mold the top and it's a lot easier than the skirt. Press some clay on her top, molding it, pinching it together to make the folds. You want it to come over the skirt slightly and be a little billowy on the bottom. For the strap of the dress, roll out a long strand of clay, then press it on, trying to keep it the same width all around the top. This should dry a lot faster then the skirt, just let it dry overnight.

So this is what you should have thus far

The Wings

Warning: if you’re inexperienced like me, this could take a lot of time. Make sure you don’t have any plans for the rest of the day. :-D

For the wings I used the air-drying clay, but I would suggest using an oven-bake clay for two reasons:
1)      It doesn’t dry out, so sculpting the feathers will be a lot easier
2)      I find that oven-bake clay is a lot stronger then the air-drying stuff.

You can find the template I made for the wings here.

Cut them out, and then cut little slits in between the feathers on the edge and the large feathers on the bottom. You don’t have to do this, but it helped me draw in the other feathers. Roll out the clay so it’s quarter of an inch thick then place the template over it. Using your seam ripper (or clay tool), cut around the edge of the template and lightly drawing the lines through the slits for the feathers. Then draw in the rest of the feathers.

Now for the fun part! Sculpting the feathers! I used my handy dandy seam ripper and the end of a thin paintbrush for this. I wanted to have that layered look, so I scrapped away the top of the feather and leave the bottom a little thicker, giving it that beveled look. Use the seam ripper for the fine detail, and then just smooth it out with the end of the paintbrush. I also did this with the top ridge of the wing. Take your time with this. It may be long and tedious, but the final look is worth it! When you have it so you like it, simply bake or let dry. 

Then use your hot glue to glue the wings on your angel.

Finally we get to paint her! I used a gray spray paint primer to even out the tones from the doll and clay. I would recommend this, but you can skip it if you want. With your gray paint, paint her all over. Using the black and white acrylic paint, you’re going to add highlights and shadows. I mixed the paint with water to make it lighter and more translucent because this helps make it look like stone. I used the black paint in the folds of the fabric, the wings, the hair and the fingers. And I used the white paint to highlight the skirt. Then let her dry.

And for the last step… put her on top of your Christmas tree and enjoy!

Edited 6/02/11

If you're having problems with cracking in the skirt, your clay might not be thick enough. I used a heavy amount of clay as the base and to add the folds in. It's about half an inch thick in the thinnest parts and an inch in the thickest. This does add weight, but apparently stops any major cracking, so give this a go if you're having problems!


Jo said...

I saw your post on craftster and had to check out your tute. :) Awesome job and I'm going to bookmark this so I can try to make one for next year. How would you suggest storing it so it can be used more than one year?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. I'm trying it myself, and I'm at the stage where I have to let everything dry before I can attach the wings and paint everything, and... it's all cracking as it dries. The dress is all in pieces. All of the pieces are, so far, still standing next to each other, but I don't know what to do. Any suggestions?

Alice Cheshire

Cynthia said...

Hi ladies, I'm sorry that I didn't see this sooner!

Jo, I actually have it standing on my entertainment center. It works because I have a growing collection of movie memorabilia (Iron Man bobblehead, Beauty and the Beast dolls, etc) and it fits right in.

Alice, I don't know if you were able to finishe this or not, but I'll tell you anyway. Mine didn't crack severly, so I added some more clay to the cracks and it worked. Maybe you could use a glue, like E6000 or hot glue. I hope you were able to finish it!

Amy Lynn said...

Oh wow! I have been waiting to make this for a while now and now is the time! I have 2 in various states of drying right now, and I'm getting ready to go work on the wings. THANKS FOR POSTING THIS!

Amy Lynn said...

Got my 2 angels done and ready to share with the world:

Thanks so much for posting your directions. I think you did an incredible job on sculpting their hair. I think yours turned out absolutely lovely where that is concerned.

As far as the cracking goes, I did have 1 crack start on each of my angels, but I noticed early enough that I was able to save them. I remoistened the clay (they were each cracking in the folds of the gown) and used my index finger to smooth it all back together. It worked in both cases.

Anonymous said...

i used super sculpy for this and it worked out great too. It's a bit more interesting because of the baking and the water bottle, but it all worked out fine (meaning nothing melted). Because of that, though, i didn't have to mess with the water in the clay.

Rian said...

Thanks for the tutorial! I made my own last week.

I used an ultra-lite air dry clay, and it worked very well and rolled out pretty thin.

Now my daughter wants me to make another one with a scary face!

Ilanna said...

I used a really light weight crayola clay - not quite as easily workable as regular but here's how mine came out:

Emma Peelout said...

Can't thank you enough for this tutorial. Mine differs from yours (as they all will due to individual expression), but it served as a wonderful example that I keep using, as many of my friends HAD to have one after seeing mine. Cheere!

Liann said...

that is so awesome

Varifiresis said...

I did the original project on Craftster (thank you for the link to my project!). I just love the idea of using a bottle to make it into a tree topper! You did a great job and the tutorial was excellent. I made mine with different materials (most of my sculpted details were paper mache), but I wish I had thought to try the air dry clay it looked way easier than the way I made mine.

mira said...

This is brilliant, I am so in love!!

Unknown said...

That is too cool! I love it! I have been looking for a new tree topper for some time... Although I can already see my husband shaking his head at me. =)

RedWaltz said...

I'm here randomly from Stumble and thought I'd point out that heavily starched cloth or plaster wrap stuff might be easier to work for the dress, and maybe craft foam for the wings, just cut it out and glue, if you're extra creative you can emboss feather patterns with a skewer/dry pen/something pointy.

Gente de Massinha said...

wowwwww!! thank you for sharing <3

Unknown said...

this is fantastic! I never would've thought to use clay for all the parts. I've made several weeping angel Barbie statues, mainly sculpting with hot glue for a lot of the pieces (hair, wing detail) someone posted this link in a comments thread on io9. so glad I looked.

Unknown said...

If I didn't already have a million half-finished projects I'd be all over this. I'll be keeping this in my "want to do some day" project file for sure.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for this tutorial! I made one based of of this and I love it sooo much! :D
(I'm totally having it out all year though lol.)

Catherine said...

This is absolutely amazing work! I want so badly to try this for this year but I don't think I'll have enough time before Christmas to get it done. :/ I'm going to bookmark this page and save it for next year. :D

Anonymous said...

Do you take orders? I am not nearly as crafty as you are buy I sure would love one of these for my Christmas tree!! If you do sell them please email me

Unknown said...

WOW, yours is great! Make me one, make me one! Did you do it as a tree topper, cause I really love that idea! email me if your seriously able to do one for me!

Anonymous said...

This is an absolutely awesome idea!! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I made this from your template so it's easier to trace. :D


Unknown said...

this is the prettiest one I've seen.. you should sell them :D I'd buy one!

Anonymous said...

About the clay being too heavy,have you thought of using paper clay? It would be much lighter and you can usually find it in a craft store over by the oven-bake kind. It s very similar to air dry clay however it is lighter in weight

Handmade ornaments said...

Will have to make one for a Doctor Who fan who is a friend of mine instead of gifting him one of my handmade ornaments. Have you tried submerging the barbie in warm water and then bending the arms? I am not sure how long or at what temp but if there is a doll shop in your area you may want to check with them.

Salt Dough Wings Art said...

Fab !!! great idea, beautiful :)

Anonymous said...

I'm going to make two: one as shown, and a scary one. I'm not going to tell my wife about the second one. I'll wait so the first one has been up for a week or so before quietly making the switch. ;-) Muahahahahaha!!!

Rachel Ash said...

I made one but changed out the clay for Milliput and paper mache because my tree is old and plastic--I was afraid it couldn't hold the clay up! But thank you for the idea and the tutorial--it looks great up on my tree! As requested, my photo:

Anonymous said...

ohmigod, this is awesome!! I've always wanted a weeping angel, and now i have one! I'm gonna give this to my friend and start moving it when shes not looking- hopefully, it'll scare the pants off of her! :) thanks again!

Mama Wolfe said...

Emma- there are no words to describe how this turned out. Just... Wow! Can you give us some details on how you did the wings and the paint? Btw- you should be selling these for large amounts of money!

gnarlyis3 said...

Thanks SOOOO much this is exactly the info I needed! Love the end result and the ingenuity.

Hasib Khan said...

Wow it's amazing. Thanks for Sharing.

Hamza said...

wow thats very nice
Christmas Eve

deepak said...

very nice carol candlelight

P & S said...

hii very good article thanks for sharing keep doing the good work.
For 150+ merry Christmas wishes:

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