About the Process...
Kerri Pajutee's miniature animal sculptures begin with an outline sketch to scale. The sketch template is frequently referenced while constructing an armature of wire and building the clay form. Large scale animals require a skeleton of copper wire and aluminum foil wrapped in masking tape. A foil core is used to fill out the bulk of the body prior to adding layers of clay. This method keeps the clay 'skin' at a consistent thickness during the buildout and helps it cure uniformly in the oven. Small sculptures (cats, birds) are assembled with fine gauge wire re-enforcement in legs, neck and tail.
Each sculpt is built in stages, employing both addition and subtraction techniques. The initial shape is hand-formed by adding layers of polymer clay over the armature. Multiple baking is required with each addition of clay. Eyes are glass rounds, no-hole beads, or UV resin, and are set into the raw clay prior to the final oven cure.
After the basic clay form has cured in the oven, micro tools such as scalpel, burrs, and carbide scrapers are used to carve and refine detail into the sculpture. Once the carving/shaping is complete, any remaining imperfections are smoothed with sandpaper, and the sculpture is prepped for paint.
Next, the sculpture comes to life with Genesis artist colors and/or acrylic paints. The sculpture is then permanently dressed in a lifelike coat of natural fibers (i.e, alpaca, wool, cashmere, mohair, cotton or silk). The texture and length of coat determines the type and amount of fiber used in the application. To replicate medium to long coats, small chunks of fiber are methodically applied to the sculpt (layer by overlapping layer) with tweezers and glue. For short coats, a 'flock' (fiber that has been cut to a powder-fine consistency) is gently pressed onto the wet glue surface using a fingertip. Once the fiber application is complete, the coat is trimmed and shaped with scissors or an eyebrow trimmer. Patterned coats including spots, stripes, or rosettes are added using professional artist inks. As a final touch, the coat is sealed with a fine mist of fixative to set the fibers and minimize shedding.
The entire process from inspiration to final scissor clip is tedious, exacting, and requires numerous hours to complete, but, the time investment is well worth the effort. The difference between 'good' and 'great' lies in the details.