This year Arlene Groch’s son Mike asked her to convert a steer skull (yes…it’s only resin, not real) into an object d’ Arte for his foundation’s fund-raiser auction during San Diego’s Gay Pride festivities this weekend. Here’s a close up so you can appreciate Mr. Steer’s fine mica shift ghost image coat. (Fans of Barbara McGuire will recognize her wonderful Klimt designs.) Other photos show a few stages of the process and the finished object.
Mr. Steer is a bit smaller than last year’s Mr. Deer, so he probably won’t bring in as much as the $700 Mr. Deer raised for this worthy cause, but Arlene is hoping he’ll also find a good home.
Arlene Groch, AKA The Deerclayer is also the founder and main force behind Clayathon which just celebrated its 10th year. Philly Guild Cheerleader Sarah Sorlien asked the attendees to make animals covered with houndstooth canes and put them on Arlene’s workspace when she wasn’t looking. As Arlene tried to figure out who left a figurine, another one would appear. Finally, we got together and had a ceremony where Arlene was formally declared The Deerclayer and crowned with a deerstalker hat.
Enjoy the pictures!
by Arlene Groch
It all started when my son Mike called from San Diego, and asked if I would cover a resin deer’s head with clay to hang on the wall of his office.
When I stopped laughing, I realized he was serious. Always game for a challenge, I agreed. He sent me the head; it came broken. That gave me a spare ear to test in the oven. The ear didn’t melt or send us running out of the house to escape poisonous fumes. So I called Mike and told him to send me another head. He must have really wanted this badly because the second head arrived in the next few days.
Mike wanted the deer covered with a hounds-tooth pattern. I scoured the Internet for ideas and found a tutorial for a hounds-tooth cane. I made some samples and Mike chose the plain pattern without the red silk screened design. I smeared the deer with Genesis and then covered all of its skin/fur with a medium thickness of “junk” clay. Then I applied the cane slices all over the deer’s head, chest and ears blending in the seams of each section to match the pattern. I blended the seams of each section together using Dan Cormier’s rag paper smoothing technique.
When Mr. Deer was ready for curing (some 30-40 hours after his arrival at our home) I had to use our regular kitchen oven because Mr. Deer’s head was too big for my convection oven. I settled him on a cookie sheet, wrapped him in tented tin foil and baked him for about 45 minutes at 300 degrees. I added a few clay patches on missed spots behind the ears, and some very thinly sliced canes where needed to improve the overall design. I cured those with a heat gun.
Mr. Deer was ready for sanding. Rough sanding to clean him up and smooth a few bumps was all the sanding I felt a deer deserved, no matter how cute.
After a good apres-sanding bath, it was time to finish him off. I applied three coats of matte red Golden paint to his antlers. I tried clay tips on the antlers, but both Mike and the Deer felt that it was too much so off they came.
Following Mr. Deer’s final photo session, George and I escorted took him to the Fed Ex office for some serious bubble wrapped, double boxed packaging and sent him off via ground transportation to his new home across the country. When the Fed Ex guy asked for a value for insurance purposes, and I just laughed and told him, “A week of Mother Love — it’s invaluable”.
I hope you enjoyed Mr. Deer’s journey, and do say a prayer [or just send some good vibes] for his safe arrival. And now for the pictures