Tuesday, October 8, 2013

POPCORN: a tutorial

Popcorn has long been a favorite food- across time and across cultures.  The oldest kernel of popcorn discovered dates back about 5600 years ago.   Today here in the states it's mostly snack food fare and generally smothered in butter and salt.

And of course dolls want popcorn too.  If yours have been asking for a big tub of buttery popcorn- and you have some time to kill- then my tutorial can help you indulge them.  Making popcorn is not hard- it's just time consuming to make it in quantity.  

As always, I needed a model to work from, so I started out by popping myself up some real life popcorn.  Personally, I like to make mine in a pan over the cook top with a little coconut oil, adding just a touch of salt.  

Upon close inspection, I noticed that the kernels generally pop in pretty random and wacky shapes. Like fingerprints, no two seem to pop identically.  And that's good.  Gives you freedom to make your popped kernels all different shapes.

For this project I used an air dry clay.  There are several brands on the market.  Specifically I used Crayola Model Magic.  Easy to find and easy to work with.  It comes in a variety of colors.

           Below is a blob of the stuff.  It already kind of looks like popcorn, in a way.

It's super light and already your base color- white- perfect for making popcorn.  I chose not use polymer clay for this project for a couple of reasons.  Clay tends to show the fingerprints, and while these popcorn pieces will be very small and fingerprints may not be a big factor, the more you work with clay in your hands, the softer it will become.  Body heat = soft clay.

The air dry clay tends to get less malleable the more time it is exposed to air, thus the name air dry clay. I actually recommend leaving the small section you will be working with out to sit for about a half hour or so before you start your project.  I started by taking out a small ping pong ball sized section to work with.

I began by rolling a small ball.  This one is about 1/4".  Exact size does not matter.  In fact you will want to vary the diameters of your balls, so that the kernels will be different sizes.

The only tools I use to shape the popcorn are my hands and the wood implement below.
It's a clay shaping tool.  But you could easily make one by sanding down a small diameter dowel rod. No need to buy fancy tools.  The tip is no bigger than a pencil's.

I used the wood tip to round a small "head" into the ball. It looks a bit like a snowman.

Next, using the tool, I poked into the top of the head, pushing down.  Cradling the bottom with your hands, try your best to retain the roundness of  bottom portion.

Then press out with the tool against your finger- creating a thin wall.  This creates the part of the popcorn that has burst open.

Then use the tool to reshape the outside section, as it probably became a bit misshapen from the pressing down.  Run the tool around the outside diameter of the ball.  Keep reshaping both ends until you are happy with the outcome.

You can add fissures and dents with your tool if you like. The popcorn will not generally be seen as little single kernels, but rather more as a whole, so I really did not work too hard to give each individual kernel features.  I wanted the general shape and color to be recognizable.  Color will be added after the clay air dries.  I waited 24 hrs for the pieces to air dry before painting.  Color will make the kernels really pop.  Sorry, I could not resist the pun.  ha ha  They won't look much like popcorn honestly until you add the color.

Now make about 20-30 more of those over and over again!  Make them varying sizes.  Real popcorn in quantity has parts of kernels, some are larger than others, some are smaller, some are darker, some are more buttery.  So have fun with the sizes and shapes.

You can make larger pieces by melding two kernels together.  Press them lightly into one another, using the blending tool to smooth the creases.

After drying fully it's time to give your kernels some color.

I used acrylic craft paints purchased from my local craft store.  You can see they are well loved.

I thinned out my yellow with a tiny bit of water and diluted the color down a touch with some white paint.  I gave all of the popcorn pieces a splash of this yellow, some more than others, just like the real thing.    Let dry.

For the interior of the kernels I used three different shades of brown.

Dab the tiniest bit of the darkest color into the center of the kernel.  Use the lighter brown for the outer portions, blending as you go.   The colors will really help to sell the realism.

The doll sized popcorn bucket was shrunk from a package of small buckets I purchased at the grocery store. I scanned one into my computer, scaled it down to about 30%, then printed it out on matte photo paper.  The bucket was filled to about 3/4 of the way to the top with fiberfill- the stuffing commonly used in pillows.  A small layer of popcorn sits on top.

Hope this tutorial will inspire you to make some popcorn for your own dolls.  It's really not that difficult, like everything else I make for my dolls, it just takes time and a little patience.  Popcorn is a fun afternoon snack or perfect for a night out at the movies with your dolls.   Now I just need a doll sized theater...hmmm.

1 comment:

  1. I am having trouble making the box. Do you have a print out printable that we can print out?