In this tutorial our friend John B. Martin, from Ireland, shows us how he added acrylic taxidermy eyes to his wolf mask. His method makes the eyes fit perfectly into the “silky-smooth” air dry clay without damaging them. Those realistic eyes, along with the sculptural changes he made to the pattern, resulted in a true work of art. Thanks, John, for sharing this with us.
©2019 John B. Martin
Wolf Head with Taxidermy Acrylic Eyes
I wanted to put taxidermy acrylic wolf eyes into one of Jonni’s masks. Getting them into the correct position was quite challenging.
The head was roughed out with standard paper strip mache and flour paste. When that was hard I put Jonni’s silky smooth paper clay on to round out the features a bit. At this stage I made an eye socket a bit bigger than the taxidermy acrylic eyes that I had sourced. I let the paper clay features harden. (I added in a lower jaw and extended the ruff)
Then I put more wet paper clay around the edges of the eye socket so that when I put the eye into the wet paper clay it would make an exact fit. With one hand behind the mask and a finger-tip in the cup of the eyes I was able to adjust depth of the eyes and the direction of stare while inspecting it from the front.
Then I modeled the eyelids around the eyes. However these eyes are made of rather soft acrylic that scratches easily. Also I didn’t want too get any paper clay on the shiny corneal surface. So I wrapped each eye in cling film. This protected the eyes well and allowed me to position them exactly as I wanted.
Back of Mask —This is my learning point.
—Cling film over eyes, inserted from the back
I then let the paper clay around each socket harden with the film-wrapped eyes in position.
The paper clay of the eye sockets didn’t stick to the cling film and it was easy to remove the eyes to allow finishing the mask features with sanding, gesso, more sanding, acrylic paint and finally matte varnish spray.
With the mask painted and varnished I glued the eyes into their sockets from the back, this time without the cling film.
The sockets had retained their shape perfectly and the direction of gaze was maintained.
The finished wolf head, with the taxidermy eyes: