by Sue Heaser
Crumple an 8 in (20 cm) square of foil into a ball about 1 in (25 mm) diameter. Roll it on your board to smooth the surface. Roll out some leaf green clay until it is about 1/8 in (3 mm) thick and use this to cover the ball. Make a hole in the base of the ball with your wool needle, enlarging it to take the top of the twig trunk later. Spike a cocktail stick into the hole as a temporary trunk while you make the foliage.
To make the leaf stamp, form a 1/8 in (3 mm) ball of scrap clay and shape into a tear drop. Flatten this onto the board into a leaf shape. Mark veins with a wool needle point. Bake this for 10 minutes. When it is cool, dust it with talc and press the end of a log of scrap clay onto the leaf to take an impression. Bake this for ten minutes and you will have a little leaf stamp to make the process of forming leaves for the trees far quicker. To use the stamp, form a log of leaf green clay, 1/8 in (3 mm) thick and cut 1/8 in (3 mm) slices. Shape these into balls, then tear drops and press down onto the board into leaf shapes - they should stick to the board. I do about ten at a time to speed things up. Now stroke the surface of the leaves with talc to prevent the stamp sticking and impress each leaf shape with the stamp.
Slice under each leaf to remove it from the board and apply to the clay covered foil ball as shown, pressing the base of each leaf onto the clay firmly with your knife tip. Start at the base with the tree upside-down and then turn it upright and work upwards, keeping the leaves pointing downwards but curling the points up as you go. Pierce the bottom end of the cocktail stick into a block of clay to steady it while you work. Be careful not to lay a side that is already covered with leaves onto the board or it will be squashed.
Finish the leaves by making smaller ones to fill in the final area at the top of the tree. Use the orange leaf mixture for the orange tree to make a contrast.
For the lemons, form 3/16 in (5 mm) balls of yellow, shape into ovals and pinch each end into a blunt point. Press these onto the lemon tree, between the leaves. The oranges are similar balls of orange clay that have been rolled on the bristles of a fine wire brush or a nylon sieve to texture them. Make a small hole in the bottom of each and press onto the orange tree as for the lemons.
Pierce the end of each cocktail stick into a piece of raw potato to hold it upright in the oven and bake the tree tops for about 20 minutes.
Trim the twigs to about 2 1/2 in ( 6.5 cm). Remove the cocktail sticks and, using superglue, glue one end of each twig into the hole in a pot and the other into the hole in the base of the foliage ball. Flood the surface of the "soil" with PVA glue and sprinkle on coffee grounds. Tip off the excess when the glue has dried. The trees are a fairly stable but it is probably a good idea to glue them to the surface they are to stand on as the leaves are fragile if they topple.
Text & Illustrations by Sue Heaser
Added Treat! PCC presents a NEW Sue Heaser biography page. Read about Sue's career in Polymer Clay right here!
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