Creating a Polymer Clay Spider

Polymer clay spider sculpture

Stroke the Wire…Love the Wire

Sculpting a nightmarish polymer clay spider has been on my personal challenge list for a while now. Similar to a couple of pieces I made way back while doing my art degree, I knew I wanted my spider to have fingers rather than legs, and also an eyeball for an abdomen. This critter was going to require an underlying armature for additional strength. I hate wire. I find it infuriating. Regardless...I know creating armature is a skill I need to practice.

This particular Studio Friday I was joined by my beautiful friend and fellow polymer clay artist Debbie Crothers for a long overdue catch up. As I gradually lost my mind, she continued to offer me such wisdom as;

Stroke the the wire...the wire is your friend.

Never Give Up

Despite Deb's awesome encouragement, my first effort ended up a hot twisted mess. Next, I decided to begin by sculpting each finger individually...but that wasn't quite right either. The following day (after further contemplation) I made a third attempt. This time, starting with the abdomen and building on the spider's body from there. I'm using a mixture of Super Sculpey, Sculpey Premo and a little bit of Kato.

Baking Polymer Clay in Cornflour

For the spider's legs, I embedded thick armature wire into the polymer clay and secured it in place. I then baked my piece in a soft bed of cornflour for added support and to prevent any flat spots. You can also use Bicarb (baking soda) for this neat trick! Once cooled and rinsed off, I bent the wire legs into position to give my creature a sense of life and movement.

Fleshing it Out

I carefully covered the wire legs with a layer of Super Sculpey, gradually building up the knuckles, wrinkles and fine details. Nails were added to each of the fingers and then it was time to go back in the oven. I think I held my breath the entire time - praying it came out of the oven safely after so many hours of work.


Arachnophobia Anyone?

After a successful final bake (phew!), I used alcohol inks and extender solution to give the flesh an unhealthy blue-grey tint. I actually took the color a bit further and heavier than planned, but it's all a matter of practice. Once the eyeball was completed with additional details and lashes, my polymer clay spider was FINALLY FINISHED!

I'm pretty happy with how my friendly polymer clay spider turned out! The whole process took a few days in total, and it really was a challenge. IF I ever decided to make another, there's a few things I would do differently (and probably a bit faster). Check out some more nightmare fuel in my artwork gallery.

My name is Rachel Weaver. An artist inspired by sugar and spice… and things not so nice. Experimenting with polymer clay and mixed media to create the weird ideas that fill my head late at night.

Leave a comment and share your thoughts.