Just a couple of tips before we start:
- All of your clay needs to be conditioned. Basically this just means that you need to squish, knead, mush, etc... until it is soft and workable.
- Your Robot will probably tip over a time or two while you are creating him. It's ok. Don't let it frustrate you. (see the tip about wax paper below)
- Your Robot might lean to one side, it's ok. I think it kind of gives him some character. It's ok if he leans to a left or right side, but leaning forward or back, is not ok (see tip about wax paper below). My husband says it's very model like to lean to one side - think Blue Steel (silly Zoolander reference, but hey, robots can look model-ish, too - right?!)
- Always work on top of a piece of wax paper. I like to do this for two reasons, 1- there is a filmy residue that is left from the clay. Wax paper will help protect your work surface. Plus, as you are working, instead of having to pick up your robot to turn, you can simply just spin the wax paper to change to another work side. The less you pick up your robot while it is being created the better. Just remember this, every time you have to lift it up, you will loosen the grip the clay has on the legs where it meets the body and then you will have stability issues. It will start to lean backwards or forwards and eventually it will fall over.
Step 1: We will start with the feet. First, you will want to make some small tinfoil bunches. You will need two and you will want to shape them kind of like a foot. (I showed two packages of clay in the photo above but you should be able to get both feet out of one package. Your feet don't have to be huge but you want them big enough to be the support/foundation for your bot.
Step 2: Flatten out your clay and wrap it part way around your tinfoil. Then using a small piece of clay on top of the tinfoil, press the end of the bolt into the clay. Continue to wrap and mold the clay all the way around the foot and the top of the bolt.
Step 3: Once you have the feet wrapped in clay, mold and shape them into the style and shape you want. You can leave them like ovals or shape them more like shoes. The most important part of this is to make sure the bottoms are totally flat. These feet will support your whole robot so they need to be flat and steady.
Step 4 - Optional: You can add in a little more personality by adding more clay to your shoes. I added some, what I guess looks like socks. It does give a little more support to the leg and adds a little more quirk. To add the rolls, just roll out a short, narrow tube of clay and wrap around the ankle. Be sure to smooth out the seam and then repeat if desired.
Step 5 - Carefully push the feet together so the clay joins at the heels. This will help with stability. Then, add on your cross dowels for your knees and set your feet/legs aside.
Just to spark some ideas, here are some different feet I've done. You will want to wait to add on your small embellishments and details, like laces and other things, until the very end.
Step 6: Now it's time to start making the body. This is probably the easiest step of all. Just condition your clay and press it to the back and sides of your Altoids tin.
When adding clay to the tin, add more clay to the bottom than the top and sides. The top and sides should be pretty equal but you need more clay at the bottom to help support where the legs will be joined.
Step 7: Next, you want to join your legs and feet to your body. Simply press the body down on top of the legs. Do your best to center it.
Step 8: For added support at the top of the robot thigh - does that seem weird, robot thigh? - wrap some clay around the top of the bolt and press it into the bottom of the body. I will usually take a small piece of clay and roll it out into a short tube like shape, (just like when adding the tubes around the ankles on the shoe) than wrap around the bolt and shape in place.
FYI: If at this point, your robot doesn't seem to stable, pull the body off and try again. It's important that at this point it is steady and can stand on it's own.
Step 9: Now that the feet and body are done, we will work on the neck next. The first thing you want to do is take a small piece of clay, flatten it out and add it to the top of the body were the neck will go. Lightly press into place.
Step 10: Take your sewing bobbin and very carefully, but somewhat firmly, press the bobbin into the small piece of clay you just added.
FYI: As you push, be sure to support the legs and lower body by holding them in place. Otherwise your brute strength might press too hard and push the body off their legs.
Step 11: Next we need to add a small piece of clay that will connect the neck to the head. To do this, roll a small ball of clay and position it on top of the bobbin. Do not press it down just yes, instead, just leave it like shown above and move on to the next step.
Step 12: Now it's time to create the head. Start first by making a small ball of tinfoil. Wrap conditioned clay around the tinfoil ball and smooth out.
Step 13: Taking a small amount of clay, roll into a small tube and then slightly flatten - see middle picture above. This will be the mouth.
Step 14: Add mouth to clay ball and press into place. The mouth will only go about half way around the head.
Step 15: Next, it's time to add the head to the top of the neck. Carefully, but firmly, press the head into the small ball of clay that was positioned on top of the sewing bobbing. This will flatten out the small ball of clay and will hold the head in place.
Wahoo!!! We've done most of the hard stuff. Now we get to decorate the little guy.
Step 16: The pieces above are the little embellishments that I added to our robot first. Start by pressing in the shoulder caps. I ended up using hinges on this guy but you could use bracelet claps or anything else you think might work.
Next, I added on the larger gear for the hat. It looks cute to put it slightly on an angle.
Then, add on the eyes
And, last but not least, I put a head pin through a small bead, I did cut off most of the pin so that it wasn't too long, and then I added them to the sides of the mouth, like jaw hinges. Just push them in place.
Step 17: To finish off the hat, add a small amount of clay and press on top of the gear. Then add on the brass bead cap and finally, a tiny bit of clay to the top (I used green).
Step 18: The last step on the hat is to add on the heart. To do this, take a small amount of red clay and shape into a heart. Next, take some wire and twist it so it is curved. Place one end of the wire into the top of the hat and then carefully press the heart into the other end.
FYI: You'll noticed in the second picture above that the heart has some polka-dots. I do like to use my stamps and texture plates to add in designs and textures to the clay. This is optional but I think it adds just a little quirk to these guys. I will also add these dots to his mouth and body sometimes too.
Ok, the head is now done. Now it's time to add on the arms and hands.
Step 19: The three items above are all you need for the arms and hands. The bracelet becomes the arms - it's important that you have a metal bracelet. Do NOT use plastic as it will melt when you bake your robot.
Using wire cutters, cut your bracelet into thirds. I must say, I don't evenly cut mine. I usually will have two pieces that are slightly longer than the third. Those are the arms. The third piece you won't use or can save for another robot.
Step 20: Next, it's time to shape the hands. I keep my hands pretty basic. They are really just flattened circles that I turned into, well, almost heart shapes with one side of the curve being larger than the other.
Add each hand onto one of your cut bracelet pieces.
Step 21: One of your robot arms will hold open the Altoid tin lid. In order to make this look kinda real, slightly bend one arm so it looks like it has an elbow. See second photo above.
Step 22: Next add another piece of clay to make like a cuff at the end of each hand (see photo above where the wrist would be) and then add the bracelets (small washers) to each arm and carefully press the top of the arm into the clay that is underneath the shoulder caps. Make sure it is pressed in far enough that the bracelet will not slide out.
For the hand that is holding lid of the tin, lightly press the hand on the tin and wrap the hand (fingers) slightly around the tin lid so it looks like it actually gripping the tin.
The other hand and arm just hang down to the side but you should press the clay from the hand slightly into the clay on the body. This way when it cooks, it will bond together.
Step 23: And, our final step is to just add some extra clay around the tops of each arm. (see the green pieces at the tops of the arms in the photo above) This will help support the arm as well as give the shoulder caps something else to rest on. I also, while it is not shown in the photo above, added in another bead to the clay just under the shoulder cap for a more finished touch. (you can see that in the completed photo at the top of the post.)
Question for you: Now that you have him pretty much made. How's it going? Is he having a hard time standing? If so, you are not alone. Almost every robot I make does this. I'll get him all steady and standing but the more I move him, and the more I added to him, the less stable he gets.
If this is happening to you, you may need to re-position or strengthen where your legs meet your body. Also, double check your feet and make sure that they are flat and steady. Once you get him steady, you are ready to bake him.
Step 24: To bake, put him in a pre-heated oven at 275 degrees for 18 minutes. DO NOT cook him standing up. I know it seems like a good idea to cook him how you want him to be in the end, however, because you are mixing metals and clay, the metal will heat up faster than the clay causing the clay to slip off the metal legs if it is in a standing position.
Cook him laying down on his back on a paper lined cookie sheet.
When he is done cooking, remove from oven and let him sit for about 5 minutes - do NOT touch him at all or pieces will fall off. When he has started to cool, but still slightly warm - not hot -, carefully return him to a standing position and let him finish cooling upright. Be careful not to squeeze his arms when lifting him up.
Step 25: After he is completely cooled, take some brown paint and paint all over him and then wipe off most of the paint with a damp -not wet- paper towel. This will give him a slight antiqued look. It is easier to paint him in small sections, then wipe off that section before moving on to the next area. This way the paint won't fully dry and will be easier to remove.
Step 26: And your final step - add a coat of polyurethane. I use gloss or semi-gloss, just depends on what I have at the time. Paint polyurethane on all areas of your robot that have clay and let it dry over night.
And then, YOU ARE DONE!!!!
FYI: I did not include steps on adding anything to the inside of the tin. You can add whatever you would like. I did flowers on the robot above but I've also done a heart. Be creative and have fun!
So, that's that! I hope you enjoy the creative process.
Happy Bot making!