I’m obsessed with the full moon and intrigued by the different faces you can see in it.
This time I saw a dreamy woman’s face with a quirky little mouth. She was the inspiration for my website’s header and also my Sleepy Moon wall art, a paperclay sculpture surrounded by shimmering moonbeams.
Follow along with me as I show you step by step how this sculpture was made.
Preparing to sculpt
I used a 10¼” paper maché plate for the foundation of the sculpture. Then I cut out a piece of cardboard slightly smaller than the plate to be used as a backing.
I made a full size drawing of the moon face.
Then I traced the drawing onto a piece of wax paper. This was used to overlay my sculpture to check for accuracy in the placement of the features.
Working on the sculpture
The easy part was covering the plate with a layer of clay. I always use Creative Paperclay.
I laid the wax paper over the clay. With my X-acto knife I punched little holes through the paper along the black lines.
This shows the markings left behind after removing the wax paper. The clay was divided into four sections with the nose outlined.
To make the nose I just started with a nice nose-shaped blob of clay.
I added a smaller ball for the nostrils.
With the nose done, I starting working on the eyes. I cut out a layer of clay in the shape of the eye using the pattern as a guide.
The eyes had slits for the eyelashes to be glued into later. The eyebrows were marked at this point.
One eyebrow done.
After the eyes and eyebrows were finished, I let the paperclay dry overnight. The next day I pulled off a piece of clay and formed it into the approximate shape of the mouth.
I used a small dampened paintbrush to smooth out areas too small for my fingers. My X-acto knife helped with carving and shaping.
Here it is after the facial features were done and left to dry for a few hours.
Then I came back in with thin layers of clay to make craters. I also filled in all the cracks that appear after drying and the remaining guide marks.
Some tools I used to make the craters: the end of my knife, wooden dowels, my knuckle.
After the sculpture dried overnight, I shaped and refined the features using the knife. I also added a bit more clay to the nose.
This is what it looked like when I was done sculpting. Very close to the original drawing.
Another view of the sculpture ready to be painted.
Painting the moon sculpture
I always like to define the features first by using a black wash. The clay is porous and using watery paint helps cover everything.
With this sculpture I worked from dark to light. Black wash in the crevices, gray wash over everything else.
Then I went back in dry brushing with white paint. Many layers were added.
I do drybrushing instead of regular painting because it blends in better with the background colors, almost like airbrushing.
At the end I drybrushed metallic silver paint as a highlight.
Working on the embellishments
I cut out a pair of eyelashes from a piece of thin cardboard. They got painted black on both sides.
Not being able to find ready made trim, I made my own tinsel from a mylar ham wrapper. This was the outer wrapper not against the ham.
I cut strips of mylar layered over a piece of tulle, sewed them together with a gathering stitch, cut them apart and fringed the edges.
This detail represents a moon ring and also serves to soften the transition between the moon and the backing.
Working on the backing
I took the cardboard backing and divided it into 16 equal parts. This was easily accomplished marking from a paper circle folded into 16 sections.
Each line marks the spot for a dowel to be glued.
Lines were drawn with a ruler.
Dowels were glued in place with hot glue.
Bamboo skewers were glued in between the dowels. I just eyeballed the placement of these.
Then I made a wire hanger from 22 gauge wire, folded in half and twisted.
The twisted wire was inserted near the edge over a dowel. The ends were twisted together and glued in place on both sides.
I painted the sticks with metallic silver.
The back was painted black.
Mirrors were glued on with hot glue. Afterwards I put more glue on the back of them and covered with silver paper.
Layers of cardboard were glued in the center of the base to reach the depth of the paper maché plate.
Gluing everything together
Cardboard eyelashes were glued into the slit. This almost looks like gluing regular eyelashes!
Tinsel was gathered and glued around the edge of the moon on the underside.
Finally the moon sculpture was glued to the backing using tacky glue. I held it in place with pressure on it for about 20 minutes. I didn’t want to crush the eyelashes by placing something heavy on top!
I decided to lighten up the eyebrows then I went over everything with satin varnish. After that dried I applied two different kinds of iridescent glitter in strategic places: inside craters, on the eyes, eyelashes and mouth.
This step I like to think of as painting with glitter.
Introducing the Sleepy Moon!
Here she is in all her glittering glory!
For more photos, check her out here.