Sunday, 16 September 2012


So, I was watching Labyrinth last week. All those fabulous Froudian creations. And it got me all fired up to finish my troll. I'd been working on a few bits and pieces over the last few weeks - creating little polymer clay troll buttons for his shirt, rune-sticks to hang from his belt and a few 'carved stones' to decorate his hat. The last thing to make was the sack of stories I wanted him to be carrying on his back, full of old scrolls. So with the help of a pot of tea and some coffee (for the scrolls and for me :) ) I got everything finished. And here he is:

Sceop, the Library Troll

As you can see, in the end I had to make some shoes for him. With the best will in the world, he was never going to stand up properly with those lumpy old feet so I cut a couple of matching pieces of mount board, place one under each foot and wrapped them with strips of hand-dyed muslin.

His clothes were made by adapting and enlarging some basic clothing patterns I had created previously for teddy-bears. You can't see them too well under his coat, but he's wearing grey linen trousers and an Indian cotton shirt (cut from an old shirt of mine). His two-tone coat was the biggest challenge. I only have a limited supply of this gorgeous silk velvet, so I made the coat in calico first to make sure the pattern worked. Jeez, that velvet may look nice but it's a bugger to sew. His hat and his back-pack are hessian, lined with calico and all the little rune stones and knotwork stones were made from polymer clay. The scrolls were simply torn sheets of cream paper, rolled and dipped in tea, then, when nearly dry, the ends were dipped in the dregs of a pot of filter coffee.

And here he is. After consulting the members of The Mythic Cafe with Charles de Lint
 their vast knowledge of all things folklore suggested the name Sceop - an old Anglo-Saxon word for 'bard', which troll seems very happy with.

So, what have a learned from the troll-making process?

#1 - build an armature that will actually be able to stand up when it's covered in clay. Sounds obvious, and it is, but I got a little carried away with the tin-foil...

#2 - 20 minutes baking time per 1/4 inch of clay may sound simple enough but it's not. Not when you're making something with thick bits and thin bits and trying to bake it all at the same time.
You need to plan the sculpt and build it up in layers.

#3 - making one complete armature for the whole model might not always be the best way to do it. It would've been much easier to work on the head, hands and feet separately, but I got a little carried away with the tin-foil...

#4 - if I'm going to put sewing holes around the ankles and wrists to secure a fabric bodyto  (and I'm not convinced it was worth doing at all), then at least angle them so I can get a needle through them easily :-|

#5 - I won't be making clothes for anything, anytime soon, from silk velvet.

All in all, it's mostly been a fun process - except when fingers dropped off - and a worth while process. I think I've learned a lot.

Will I be making anything else???

My mum's buying me a pasta maker for my birthday and I have no intention of using it to make tagliatelle  ;)