The good folk at 3A have revealed Judge Fish and The Gronk as the latest in a line of 2000AD characters. You can pre-order them on Bambaland.com here:
At $75 including international shipping, that’s a pretty good deal! The Gronk does look lovely, especially with that fur finish they’ve given him.
Unfortunately for me even a price so reasonable is currently out of my budget. I drooled over these pictures, and cursed the reason for my skintness (I recently bought a house), but then thought ‘Stop with the self pity – there was a time (decades ago admittedly) when you could build one of these for yourself!’
With that in mind, I invested in a block of Super Sculpey (you can get a decent sized block of this for a tenner on Amazon), and raided the kids ‘making box’ for some cheap acrylic and paintbrushes.
I’d like to present to you my first attempt at making anything with clay in over twenty years, and also talk you through the process in case you wanted to learn from my mistakes!
Ok, first up I made a basic wire frame – nothing special, just a circular base and a spine that led right up to the tip of Gronk’s furry bonce. I wound two separate wires around it horizontally about a third of the way up, a centimetre or so between them, to represent the Gronk’s arms.
I then built up the foundation of the Gronk around these wires, initially just trying to get a feel for where the head would start and finish, and position the arms to make it look less static:
Once I had this basic shape, I started to round the edges, clean up the main body a bit, and give him more detail. Again I spent some time positioning the arms, and thought about how I was going to give this clay thing some character. This included working on the hands, thinking about eyes and expression, and how to shape the hair tuft at the top.
Once I was happy with the basic dimensions, and how the body was going to sit, curvature of the spine, hair, features etc, I thought it was time to work in some of the finer detail. Up until this point I had used nothing but my hands, fingers, and even fingernails, to work the shape and get some of the basic detail down. Now I had to find a decent carving implement…
… a pair of nail scissors!
Yep, you don’t need crafting tools to create, folks. Just use what’s around you. That said, I have ordered some basic craft stuff for my next project.
Ok, so then I really went to town, trying to create a fake fur effect by dragging the scissors downwards for very short lines all over his body. This took quite a while, as I realised that as I held it and shaped one area, I was flattening down a previously shaped area with my fingers! D’oh!
I eventually sat the wee guy on a mat, turning the mat to get at the clay I needed to sculpt. After this, I had one last adjust of the arms, and the tuft of hair at the top, and it was ready to cook:
Ok folks, here’s something fundamental about Super Sculpey I wish I’d known earlier. On the packet it said to cook it at about 130 degrees centigrade for 15 mins per 6 mm width (Gas Mark 2 basically). Naturally I though it was very wide at it’s widest, so left it in for about 45 mins.
This was wrong. At it’s thinnest it was only about 2mm deep. What I should have done was put it for 10 minutes at a time, taken it out, air cooled it for 10 mins, and then put it back in for 10 mins, repeating until it had the full 40 – 50 mins of cooking time.
If I had done that I would have prevented this:
Oh my poor heartses! I thought I’d ruined my creation! As you can see, it cooked the thick bits to perfection, but the thin hair tuft at the top was smoking when I pulled it out of the oven.
I was hoping to rely on the nice skin colour of the clay for the face and arms, but as you can see poor Gronk’s nose was a bit burnt! I had no choice but to rely on paint.
It was at this time I realised I couldn’t paint a decent skin tone, as I only had red, white and black acrylic paint (nicked from the kids stash earlier), so at 11pm I jumped in the car and tried to find a large 24 hour Tesco, and the paints I needed. Yes folks, by this point I was a bit obsessed – I wasn’t stopping until the damn thing was complete!
Tesco was almost a bust – no acrylic paints on sale at all, of the regular artists variety. However, there were some tiny pots of acrylic in with a kids ‘paint your own fridge magnet’ thingy. I bought that, belted home, discarded the magnets (I’ll give those to the kids), and was able to get a nice mix of yellow and red for a skin tone.
The first layer of paint went on. I was very impatient by this point, and it was a bit scrappy:
Ok, not bad – it covered the singed bits nicely, but clearly wasn’t finished. I needed more detail around the face, and neded to lightly brush some white over the fur to give a shadowy layered effect. I waited for the paint to dry and treated myself to the last of some lovely 20 year old single malt I’d been nursing since Xmas.
Finally it was time to add one more layer of paint before I really hit the finer detail. As I’d had to paint over the Gronk’s scorched face, I had to cover his arms with the same colour, so it looked consistent:
As mentioned above, I dragged a soft brush lightly over all the fur with white paint. This lightened the surface, but kept the grooves a dark grey, so as to try and bring out that fur effect. I worked a little more detail into the face, and then finally considered the eyes.
I wanted to emulate the 3A masterpiece, as I love the character – those worried eyes looking distractedly to one side, as if something was going to leap out and give the Gronk yet another actual heart attack.
The paint brushes I’d nicked from the kids were far to coarse. There was no way I was going to get his tiny pin-prick pupils right with one of those. Eventually I settled on a fine nibbed Sharpie…
…and he was done.
Here he is in all his glory. My own Gronk, made by my own hands, for a fraction of the price of the 3A one (though admittedly nowhere near as professional looking), after a fantastically diverting evening of creativity.
I’m quite pleased with it. My first serious attempt at clay modelling since the 1990’s.
I hope this has given some hints and tips to those wannabe sculptors out there. I highly recommend Super Sculpey, but heed my warning about cooking times!
The question is, what do I make next..? I’m eyeing Sensitive Klegg…