It’s hard to pinpoint just what I love most about the circus. Is it the color of the big top, the wonderful animals or the clowns and their antics? The circus itself is a minor miracle – it has survived the internet, the iPhone and Netflix. And while drive-in cinemas are no longer to be found, there are still circuses performing around the globe entertaining a new generation of kids.
To celebrate the circus, I have a project that you can make yourself or make with the kids. The clown and circus tent are made in AMACO Cloud Clay which is an air-dry clay that has a lovely suede-like finish and which comes in a heap of colors just perfect for this circus project. The wet clay sticks to itself so the pieces are easily assembled, and when dry, the pieces are astonishingly robust.
To complete the project you will need:
- AMACO Cloud Clay: Green, Orange, White, Blue, Yellow, Black, Purple, Red, Orange
- Recycled toilet roll or cardboard cylinder
- Aluminum foil
- Acrylic roller
- Scallop scissors (optional)
- Non-stick work surface
To condition the Cloud Clay, pull off a piece of clay large enough for the element you are making and knead it and pull and fold it until it is pliable and soft. Keep the remainder of the clay sealed in an airtight container. I double-bag mine, wrapping first in cling wrap, and then storing it in zip-lock bags. Start with the clown’s feet, shape some Red Cloud Clay to make his shoes. Break a toothpick in two and push one half into each shoe – you will use these to anchor his body.
Scrunch up some aluminum foil to make a sphere for his body. Cover the bottom of the sphere with an overlarge piece of Blue clay; pull some clay away from the body and cut it in two with scissors. Shape the clay to make his trouser legs. Cover the top of the sphere with a large piece of Orange Cloud Clay for his shirt. Press the completed body onto the toothpicks in his shoes, pressing everything firmly together and ensuring that everything is angled correctly so he stands upright.
Make two flattened teardrop shapes using White Cloud Clay for his hands – use scissors to cut the thumb and then curve the shapes to make one left and one right hand. Add some Orange Cloud Clay to his wrists to make sleeves and press the sleeves onto his shirt.
Roll a small egg shape from White Cloud Clay for the clown’s head. Add small pieces of Orange Cloud Clay for the nose and mouth and pieces of Yellow, White, and Black Cloud Clay for his eyes. The image shows how these pieces should be assembled. Press a toothpick into the eyes to make pupils.
Flatten pieces of Green Cloud Clay with your fingers for his ears. Cut around the ears with scallop-edge decorative scissors and press the ears onto the head. Press the head onto the body, ensuring that the clown still stands upright.
Press some Purple clay flat with your fingers to make a bow tie shape. Cut the edges with decorative scissors. Press the bow tie on the clown’s shirt. Finish his trousers with some buttons made from tiny flattened balls of Purple Cloud Clay.
To make the circus tent, roll a piece of Orange Cloud Clay flat using an acrylic roller. Cover a recycled toilet roll with the Orange Cloud Clay and trim away any excess clay. Roll some White Cloud Clay to a similar thickness and cut it into long flat strips. Press the strips of White Cloud Clay onto the Orange clay to make the stripes in the circus tent.
Roll some Orange clay flat and cut a half-circle of clay from it. Press into a cone shape, pull out the bottom edge of the cone to flute it, and sit it on the striped tent base. Make a small flag from Orange clay – roll it around a toothpick and press it into the top of the tent.
Set all the pieces aside to dry.
by Helen Bradley (www.amaco.com)