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Dinko's Bird with Teeth Lesson

By Dinko Tilov

Dinko Bird
      Hi! This here is a detailed description of the stages through which a bird normally goes through before it is finished.  I'm sure there will be stages that are redundant for advanced clayers, but for the sake of consistency they are all here. 

     The material used can be any brand of polymer clay, and the preferred color scheme is under your sole jurisdiction. :)  Generally, the bony part (the beak and the feet) is of one color well contrasting to the color of the fluffy part (the body, the wings and the tail). 

     The size of a bird doesn't matter as long as the proportions make sense. The bird below is less than  1 inch tall but scores pretty well from the two points line. :)

Tools needed:
Dinko's HandSafety Pin
your hands             a safety pin
     You can use any other kind of pin, needle or sharp object,  but this does not apply to the choice of  hands - you have to use your own hands!
    A bird is build the way a house is built - from bottom to top; a bird starts with the legs. The leg of the average bird consists of three toes. They are simply short pieces of clay snakes with oval edges, made by rolling a small ball of polymer clay between your index and your thumb until it becomes longish. In this way you preserve the volume of the toe.
    In the similar manner the other toes are stuck on top of the first one.  There has to be sufficient overlap between them so that they would be harder to break once the bird is finished and cured. 
    Finally, the left foot is ready when the thumb and the pinkie of the bird form approximately a 90 degree angle. This will be a bird which stands firmly on his feet! 
Two Feet
    By analogy with the left foot, we proceed with the right one.  Make sure to include the same number of toes into each foot. It's considered good taste. 
Birdie or an EGG
    What comes first - the chicken or the egg?  According to this how-to project it seems that the chicken's feet are the pioneer. 

    Once you're ready with the feet, roll out an egg, or any other oval shape would do as well. This is the body of the bird. It depends on the type of oval shape that you will chose whether you will end up with a chubby or skinny feathered songster. 

    Stick the egg (the body) firmly to the feet. Remember that it is the body that keeps the two feet together, and if you want to have a solid bird  you ought to push harder - but be careful not to spoil the oval of the egg by over-pressing. 

    It depends on the stickiness of the clay you are using, but the tighter the feet are pressed to the body, the better. 

    Ironically , the bird's mouth is made from the same piece of clay you just made his legs...

    Make a small flat isosceles right triangle.  If you're not too much into math, like me, just make a right triangle with two equal sides.

     Sharpen a bit the right angle and pull the other two ends into opposite directions.  The hypotenuse (sorry) of the triangle has to be slightly curved, because this will be the side adjacent to the body.
     Stick the beak to the body. Stick it horizontally.  From this point on, working on the beak is easier if you attach it to the bulk of the bird. 

    Whether you will make a high brow or a low brow bird depends on how high on the egg you chose to put the beak...

     ...personally, I prefer the upper part: it leads to a lowbrow bird with a belly.
     Gently push the top of the beak down.  This is probably the only resemblance the bird would ever bear to an eagle, so you have every reason to do it.
    This is what the aspiring bird looks like with his modified beak.
     Next step consists of separating the upper jaw from the lower one. This is when you first use the safety pin. Drive it into the beak where the curved part starts and pull to the cheeks. Don't touch the part that is bent down though - this is where the jaws remain joined. It's safer - in case what you make turns out to be a really hungry bird.
     Use the safety pin again to widen the distance between the jaws.  The ideal situation is to make a hole with a drop-like shape. This is where you'll put the teeth in a while.
     A side view portrait of the stage described above. Remember that if the ends of the mouth are pointing down the bird would be sulking.   :(

You know the alternative.   :)

     Fill in the holes with white polymer clay. If you want the bird to have bad teeth, of course, you can use yellowish clay. You can put a cigar in the guy's beak or you can make his tongue stick out.

but teeth - teeth are classic! :)

     Now that you know what it feels like to be a dentist, take the safety pin and divide the white clay into individual teeth. Watch out not to touch the surrounding beak.

     Eyeballs - two balls of regular white (or lightly colored) polymer clay are covered with eyelids (of a shade slightly darker than the color of the feet).  The eyes are fairly important as we shall see later.
     Add the eyeballs you just made to the body of the bird.  Stick them to the beak and to the egg at the same time. The beak and the eyes form the face of the chicken, so make sure that they are not too wide apart.

Several views on placement of the eyes..
     These are the wings.  You make two balls and squash them down to two disks.
    Stick one end of the wing to the body at the height of the beak. The loose end of a wing has to be slightly spread.
     The tail is made just like the feet, but using another color, and the feathers (their equivalent in the feet was the toes) are flat. The number of feathers, just as the number of toes, can vary indefinitely.
     Stick the tail to the bottom of the bird (which, if you have been paying attention, should by now be below the waist).

Once again you have to make some decisions about whether you want the bird to be more stout and sturdy or more delicate and breakable; long tails are irresistible ( the ancients used to say "The tail makes the bird") but short ones are easier to handle and harder to break.

     As you will soon finish making the bird, now is the time to fix some minor inaccuracies you have allowed (like the eyelids of this particular bird, which did not cover the eyeballs wholly until this stage). Nobody's perfect, after all.

     Turn the bird around. It's still sightless. Now is the time to take the safety pin again and make two tiny holes in the eyeballs. You can leave it blind or go for some of the following: 
Dizzy Normal Looking left I don't know
     Of course it all depends on how you are going to use your bird, but still I like it best when they look upwards. Birds are so short that they have to look upwards to see you.  You could say that it does indeed give you the feeling that the bird is looking at you when it looks up. 

     You look down to see such a tiny creature and it look up to see you - your eyes meet. The best thing is that you don't have to listen to this part either, because yours might be a selfish bird, or a bird reading a book.

     Now is the time to sign your bird, too.

     Everything so far holds true for the "average" bird. but since in real life there is no such thing as an average bird, and every bird is specific, you are free to make any modifications that you like. By changing the color and the shape of the different parts of the bird you can obtain everything from a penguin to a pelican. It is the small bits that you change that make the personality of the creature. Here are a couple of examples:

I'll be looking forward to seeing any birds you made!
You can email me anytime at dinko@pobox.com.

All artwork displayed is © Copyright (2000) Dinko Tilov (all rights reserved)

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