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In this craft video Cheri shows us a how to make a traditional native American storyteller figurine.
Tags:How to Make a Storyteller Sculpture Part 2,art projects,cheri lynn,clay figure,clay figurine,craft projects,crafts,jumbobaystudios,native american art,native american figurines,storyteller,tribal art
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I have here in my hands a little storyteller from the southwest part of the United States. The Zuni’s and the Hopi’s like to make this little clay figures to sort of convey the idea of the elders passing on all the stories of the tribe to the children. And typically, what they’ll have is a person or an animal with lots of little children or baby animals on them as if the elder in the sculpture is telling the story. So here, we actually have a woman and the tribe with all the little children siting on our lap and sort of leaning against her, listening to her tell the story and her mouth is open which is typical with the storytellers. And this one that I made, inspired by the authentic one is the turtle with the two little baby turtles and you see that the turtles mouth is open as if he’s telling a story to the little baby turtles.
So, what we’re going to do is we’re going to make a storyteller out of clay. And what you’re going to need is some self-hardening air dry clay. Probably a little cup of water, some of your clay tools and a place where it's okay for you to work at home, but the clay is not going to get all over, anything that’s important to mom. So, I’m going to show you how easy it is to make something like a turtle and then we’re going to make something a little bit more difficult that would require a little bit more patience on your part.
So, I’m just going to divide this clay with my wire, just cut through it and I’m going to show you how to make a simple turtle. Basically, what I’m going to do, first, I’m going to pull a little excess off so I have extra for the legs and the hat. And I’m just going to start to form. It's almost like a little pinch pot and what I’m doing is I’m making a shell. And I’m just using the outside part of my hand to support it and my thumb to push, and then in that way the clay squeezes through my fingers. And I can also feel how thick it is because it's nice to have clay even the thickness. Even though this clay is not going to go into account, it just looks nicer if it's kind of a uniform thickness.
So here, I’ve got what probably will work for a shell. And there are all different kinds of turtles, so the shape of the shell is totally up to you. You could scallop the ends of it, the edges of it. You could trim it off and make it totally flat. You can shape it more oblong in this way. We could shape it more this way. We could leave kind of around it. It just however, you want to make your turtle and it's up to you.
Now, from this excess clay, I’m going to go ahead and make a little head. I’m just going to roll into a bowl because it's easier to work with it, I think. And then I’m going to kind of pinch and pull a neck from here. And at the same time, I kind of pinch the other end of it to make his face and then you can put a smile on your turtle if you want. So his mouth is open, partially open. And then I’m going to go ahead, and the way I’m going to attach this is just by kind of squishing this clay underneath his shell. And then actually, letting the shell bend up a little bit, so the shell kind of wraps over the back of his head. So there’s the turtle’s head and maybe what I’ll do is go ahead. I know he’s smiling but it's supposed to be a storytelling turtle. So let's kind of open his mouth a little bit, we’ll see. We’ll come back later with the water and smoothen that out a little bit. There we go.
And you can put some eyes on them. And to get the eyes on, we’re just going to do a little scoring here and press them in there because we don’t want them to fall off later. And of course, you can make your eyes as big as you want. Let's score this side. So there, we have our little turtle with some very large eyes. We’ll put some pupils there. And then I think the turtle needs some feet. Now, it's up to you how much of the feet you want to show and what shape you want to make them and you can make them like claws. You can make them just like real simple like this. It could be sea turtles that have more like flippers instead of claws because after swimming in the ocean. So why don’t we make this one a sea turtle just for fun. And we’ll kind of make these look like flippers. And I’m going to turn the turtle over again and smooth the end of the flipper into the back of the shell. And you can face the flippers which ever way you want, so it looks like he’s moving or he’s stationary. And then when we put him down, it’ll kind of push the flippers back out. And then maybe on the back flippers, we’ll just make it as if a little part of these flippers sticking out the back like he’s kind of sitting on them. Okay, here’s our sea turtle. You can give them a tail so you can roll a little coil. Put his tail back inside there again and there we have a turtle.
Then of course the last thing you’re going to want to do is take a pencil or a sharp tool. You can draw some designs on the back of the shell and you’re going to want to do your smoothing with the water. And whatever design you want to draw on his back is definitely up to you. I’m just kind of doing a typical turtle kind of design. And since these are imaginary, you know combining a sea turtle with a regular turtle is perfectly acceptable. Because when you’re making art, there is no right or wrong. And while he gets going on his drawing, we have to make some little babies because, otherwise, there’s no point in having the storyteller if there’s no one to listen to this story.
So basically, you’re going to follow the same procedure but everything is just going to be a whole lot smaller. So you’re just going to take a little bowl of clay and you just use your thumb. And this part, these fingers just like you did on the big one, but you’re making a much smaller shell. So you see how easy that is, like here is the shell. That’s a good size for a baby and then you’re going to take little small pieces of clay. And you’re going to do the same thing you did with the big turtle. You’re going to make a little feet and you’re going to make a head, and you’re going to put the eyes on them and a little tail if you want to. I do the feet first. I’m doing the same exact same thing I did on the large version. I’m just blending the clay in. I think I’ll shape them and make them face this way. And then I’m going to take a larger piece and make the head like that. And this little baby, we can make him smile. Put his head up a little bit, so he’s listening to the story. And then probably it would be easier just to draw eyes like that and then put your little pattern on him. And then of course you’re going to make another one of these unless you just want one listener to the storyteller.
Finish off drawing. And then the very last thing or the second last thing you do is smooth everything out and then you set them aside and let him dry out. And then about 12 to 24 hours later after they’re dry, you can go ahead and paint them. And then this is how they’re going to look after everything is paint.