Introduction: Flying Pig

About: I make toys and electronic gadgets.

This is a flying pig made with Sculpey and an egg.  This is a moderately difficult sculpt due to the armature, but the supplies are easily available.  Dimensions of final sculpture are approximately 4 inches high to top of wing, 5.5 inches long from snout to hind hoof, and 5.5 inches wide from wing to wing in a V position.  SAFETY PRECAUTIONS: Protect wood furniture from polymer clay, which could stain.  Use a craft surface, not a food surface to prepare or cook polymer clay.  I covered my old cookie sheet with foil.  Finally, kids should have an adult supervise baking.

Step 1: Supplies

- 3 or 4 large gem paperclips
- one toothpick or a tiny twig
- scissors
- needle nose plyers
- Sculpey clay in red, beige, and white (or just pink and white).  I use Sculpey bake and bend.
- 1 egg
- push pin or safety pin
- aluminum foil
- balsa wood and florist wire are optional
- a dab of black acrylic paint
- drawing tools or a printer to print out pig and wings design
- clay tools: needle tool, mini roller, plastic knife
- one old paintbrush for removing burrs
- one tiny paintbrush for painting the eyeballs
- a couple index cards or cardstock

Step 2: Design and Preparation

A) Blow out your morning egg(s).  Poke a hole on each end and break the yolk with a long paperclip.  Blow your egg into a small dish.  Cook and eat innards.  Set aside shell to dry in the sun.

B) Use my drawing for reference or sketch your own piggy with an egg shaped body.  :)

Step 3: Armature

A) Shape 2 paperclips into a cradle for your egg with the ends of the paperclips turned in for stability and to prevent poking through the clay.  Imagine the pig is flying with legs in a comfortable position.  You may want to bend the knees or push the feet behind and/or ahead.  Whatever you decide, please remember this piggy will still be standing on the legs you design.  My pig tended to fall on his snout until I made the wings.  Expect an occasional upset.

B) Wrap wrinkled foil around the wire to bulk out the legs.  This will result in less clay used, an overall lighter sculpture and a shorter baking time.  You can see that I used balsa wood here, which you can do if you have florist wire to wrap it onto the paperclip.  I used hot glue to secure the wood to the paperclip, but I don't think using hot glue is a good idea in the oven.  So be wise and just use foil.  You can lash the paperclip legs/cradle onto the egg with strips of foil as shown.  :)

C) Push together a roundish foil head and an oval foil snout; join the two pieces together by wrapping in another scrap of foil.  Foil head+snout should be slightly smaller than piggy drawing to leave room for pink clay.  Jam a toothpick or a bit of wood into the head and push that into the pointy end of your egg; there may already be a blow hole in just the right spot.

D) Poke a hole with your pin on each side of the pig where you intend to place wings.  Straighten a paperclip and patiently push through the egg to the other side.  Bend edges inward to avoid poking through the clay later, and bend into an upward wing position.  It is ok if the wire rotates into a downward position for now.  I kept a bit of wire hanging out as a placeholder and later put in the long paperclip.   

Step 4: Puttin on the Skin

A) Condition and blend beige and red clay to make pink, or simply use a package of pink clay.  If you are blending like me, remember that a little red goes a long way.  I Mixed 4 beige bars with 1/2 of a red bar.  Roll out into something between a medium or thin sheet.

B) Drape clay over entire piggy and blend at the seams.  Add rolls around legs to define thighs and secure joints on the underside.  You can smooth joints with a ball tool or a small crotchet or knitting needle; I used my hands and the opposite end of my needle tool.  Shape and smooth entire body until you are happyish.  Do not aim for just right results now, because you will be handling piggy a lot as you add details.   

Step 5: Details

A) Ears: Cut rounded long triangles and fold the inner crease to make ears as shown.  Press onto the piggy's skull and smooth out joints.  Add little balls of clay behind the ears for support; blend into ears and skull.  Each ear needs to be the same size and in the same symmetrical location on the head.  However, they can be in different positions (i.e. one up, one down), to lend a playful facial expression. 

B) Eyes: Imagine a line extending down the outside of the inner ear until you find a good place for an eye.  Pierce a little dot there as a placeholder.  Compare and adjust the eye locations as you look from all sides.  Once you are satisfied, make two identical tiny balls and flatten them onto the eye locations you chose.  Make a tiny snake (smaller than the eyeballs) and cut into four tiny pieces.  Press these snakes below and above the eyeballs to shape lower and upper eyelids.  We will paint the eyeballs black later (AFTER baking the clay).

C) Nose: Flatten a circle and shove it onto piggy's snout.  Push two nostril indentations just a bit and pinch the top of the nose as shown.

D) Smile: Using a needle tool or paperclip, cut the jaw open a bit without exposing foil.  Put a hint of a smile by turning up the ends of the mouth a little.  I puffed out the cheeks a bit with a blended ball of clay on each side.

E) Hoofs: Trace hoofs by pushing the side of a paperclip around the ankle.

F) Tail: Roll a small snake with a tapered (smaller) end into a small coil.  Join the base and coil to the piggy's rear and to itself for stability.  Smooth joints.

G) Retouch/resmooth entire pig until you are happy.  I used a mini roller and also rolled and pushed with the back end of a needle tool.  Aim for just right results now, but please don't aim for perfection.  This is a pig.

H) Preheat oven.  Bake pig for 20 minutes per 1/4 inch thickness at 285 degrees F (130 degrees C).  If you have followed instructions thus far with an armature for the body/legs/head as discussed, then 20 minutes should suffice. 

Step 6: Wings and Second Bake

A) Wings: Design/draw or print my drawing of wings onto cardstock to roughly 2.5 inches long each and cut out.  Copy design onto white, conditioned, flattened clay: Poke around perimeter AND trace over with needle tool to transfer the feather pattern onto clay.  Trim cardstock a bit and set it aside.  Make deeper lines directly onto the clay.  Make 4 wings in this manner (2 of each left and right) and sandwich the trimmed cardstock and the wing wire inside the clay layers with feather details showing on the outside.  The paperclip AND the cardstock are acting together as wing armature.  Brush off burrs with an old paintbrush.  Form wings against body until you are happy; consider using Sculpey glue to join the soft and the hard clay.  I don't have Sculpey glue, so I will use superglue after my second baking.

B) Second Bake:  Bake again for 20 minutes at 285 F (130 C).

C) Finish:  After it is completely cool, use a tiny brush to dab black acrylic paint onto the eyeballs.  Consider placing piggy with some cotton batting or pulled cotton balls around the feet to make it look like piggy is in flight.

Play With Clay Contest

Participated in the
Play With Clay Contest