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Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Building Of Henrietta Hen Part 1

Hello Ladies! I wanted to share what I've been up to. Occasionally I start a project that is so much fun that I like to document it during the process. Up until yesterday Henrietta Hen was still trapped in my head, I could see her generally but the details don't show themselves until the piece is being created. I could see a round roly poly chicken and funny little legs. I knew that I wanted to incorporate some sculpting on this piece as well. I got out my tracing paper and drew out a body and head, they were sewn, stuffed and ready for the building of a Hen. I was pleased with the shapes so far, they represented pretty much what I had seen in my vision.

This will be part 1, I will continue on with part 2 when her clay is dry and I can paint her! NOTE: since I posted this, I started another chicken and documented the working with clay a bit better, I will add it to this post. If you see two different looking chickens this is why!

Here you can see a raw piece of clay added to a dampened fabric head. From here I will work the clay, making it fit onto the head.

I have smoothed the clay out a bit and have my basic shape. I need to cut a whole lot of bulk off this clay though, for that I use the knife you see in the picture.
I have cut away some clay to give me more the look of a chicken's comb. The other chicken on this tutorial as you can see has a more pronounced comb, I am choosing to make this one more subtle.

I have smoothed the clay with my damp fingers, damp brush and other tools. I am liking how this is looking.

I am adding the nose now. I start with a basic shape cutting the clay down to the size I am thinking I want it to be. This tool you see helps me to smooth it onto the face and get my shape. I also use a knife to cut the mouth open. This beak is going to be more petite that the other chicken here. I will scrape away any clay that is not wanted on the fabric.

I have cut the beak so there is an upper and lower. I am using my wood smoothing tool to refine it.
Front view so far. I added nose holes with my stylus. I use my damp brush to smooth between the beaks.

Here is her side view. She has a cute little open beak, more petite than Henrietta hen. With clay there are not two alike, that is the fun in this playing with clay!

Here are the tools I used to get the beak and comb the way you see them. The tool on the far right is a rolling pin to flatten your clay.

The rest of this tutorial is from the original one I posted. From here on out you will see Henrietta Hen! There may be some things I have repeated with this addition.

You can see her personality already! I used LaDoll air dry clay to sculpt the beak and top piece. I wet down the muslin first so the clay would be sticky on the fabric and grab it. I used my fingers, knife, various tools and a soft damp brush for smoothing. If there was too much clay in places I would cut it away or add to if needed. As you sculpt keep your piece wet by brushing on some water. Dip your fingers in water as you sculpt and use them to smooth the clay.

There are no rules when sculpting, use whatever tools work and just have fun. As long as you keep the clay moist you can work on it endlessly. If you want to stop and come back to it later, just cover the piece with a plastic bag and tie off or tape it shut so air cannot get in. 
Here is her profile looking the other way, each side will be slightly different, but that is okay! We are not using molds. I took a knife and made a slit for her mouth, then took my damp brush and smoothed it all out. Her nose holes were put in with a stylus. This clay is great, it can be sanded when dry and if you need to add more clay  or fill in cracks you can.
Her is the front view, I love her already. As I sculpt I just let the piece happen, most of the time I am pleasantly surprised to see what emerges. The piece just becomes what it wants to be as it goes along. Don't worry about clay getting smudged on the fabric, it can be smoothed out when dry with a piece of sandpaper. She will be painted as well so you will never see the clay spots. Hmmm, I am thinking that once dry, her top piece and beak will have to be carefull popped off the fabric and glued on with some strong glue. I don't think that just using the clay itself will stay on permanently. I am crossing my fingers that it will work okay.
And here is the other side view. I had bought these nests years ago at a local craft store, bought tons of them and never did anything with them. I am thinking that is going to change, she is cute in that nest don't you think? I do think she needs funny little legs sticking out of that nest. I will do that while this clay dries, it can take up to three or more days to dry. The outside will feel dry right away, but the inside is still wet. If you make the mistake of painting too soon, you lock the moisture in the painted clay and that is not a good thing. 

Okay, just being real here, I thought you would get a kick out of seeing how messy I really am when I create! There is no time to pick up when the creative juices are flowing! 

Here is a picture of the wired feet. I will show you in the next pictures how they come together.
I took two pieces and twisted them together by holding the wires with pliers and my left hand. I twisted them with my right hand. I left two long pieces to form the feet.

I measured how long I want the outer toes and bent the wire there.

I twisted the the wires together, I still have excess wire.

I took one side and wrapped a few times down the leg then took wire cutters and cut it off. With the remaining piece you will twist once around the main leg and back to the center.

This picture shows the making of the middle toe, make it a bit longer than the outer toes. Twist it the wires together ending on the leg. Pinch any exposed sharp edges down with the pliers.

Here is the finished wire foot. We are ready to add some floral tape to cover it.

I am using a roll of floral tape to cover up this wire. There is no rhyme or reason to how I am doing it, I just started winding. It has a bit of stretch so pull slightly so it it tight. I also push it down tight with my fingers as I go. This tape sticks on itself really well that is why I like it for projects like this. I just kept adding tape and doing more layers until the feet and legs were the look and thickness I liked!

Here is one foot covered and ready for the next step. I will be staining this tape with acrylics and then topping it off with a couple coats of Matte Mod Podge!

Lets try those legs on for size! I have them pinned on to see if I like the positioning, I am not sure yet. I simply drew up the fabric pieces, sewed them up and glued the legs in. I added some stuffing to each upper leg as well. 

Here is a side view of Henrietta with her new legs. I love how she is looking now sitting in this next with her legs dangling over! This is the end of part 1. 

Part 2 will be adding her wings which are yet to be created, and the painting. I am planning on making this my next pattern, however I am not sure about offering a pattern that has sculpting involved. What do you all think? 

Happy Sunday!


  1. oh my gosh I can't wait how SWEET Jody, when you do the pattern can you do the option of cloth for the parts you used clay on, I don't do clay LOL

    I can't wait

  2. I actually chuckled as I looked at the last picture of Henrietta and her round, cute body! I love how you are using the clay. Paper Clay is one of my favorite things to work with! I can't wait to see Henrietta with her chicken wings on! She's going to be just adorable!

  3. Love your "Henrietta" hen, so far! Can't wait to see "Part 2"! Can't wait to see her when she is finished!

  4. I am in LOVE!!! Henrietta is going to be so so cite! I can't wait to see her all finished up!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Be blessed,

  5. Hi Jody! She is sooo darling! I am loving this little hen. You are amazingly talented my little STAR!!

  6. I am hooked on Henrietta...looking forward to part 2!


  7. Henrietta is a hoot. Talk about quirky, I just love her.
    I am looking forward to the next instalment.

  8. Hi Jody: She is just awesome! And you are right...she is taking on a personality all her own. I love paperclay and want to learn more on how to use it. I hope you offer this pattern. Can't wait for part two.


  9. Hi Jody,
    Such talent!! LOVE the chicken legs!! What a cutie already!
    Enjoy your day,

  10. She is just the cutest! You would have to include a trip to Florida to help me put one together! heehee! But that would be fun, wouldn't it? Sweet hugs!

  11. Henrietta is just awesome!!! I am looking forward to the next instalment!

  12. Thanks so much for the tutorial!Henrietta is adorable.Hugs,Jen


Thank you for taking the time to leave me your thoughts! I enjoy each and every comment.


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