To create a character in plasticine requires a skeleton to support it. This skeleton is known as an 'Armature' and there are to ways to aquire an armature, buy one however this is limited only to a male humanoid character or the other option is to build an armature which is exactly what I've done.
The best wire to use for this is 1mm thick good quality wire to allow flexibility aswell as strength however there was none of the good stuff around so I used 2mm thick cheap wire and using a drill I twisted two wires together to make one thick one. This provides the majority of the armature however as the character im building is a polar bear, it needs alot of bulk and weight which I need to add to the armature.
For the limbs I covered the wire in oven hardening clay however I bought the wrong type of clay and as a result most of it melted in the oven which was a very big disaster.
I tried covering the molten plasticine (which had hardened) with foil which worked fairly decently and I found that the plasticine sticked to the non shiny side of the foil.
What I had learnt from this experience of making an armature is how NOT to make an armature... I pretty much messed this one up but by doing so I have learnt many things which I have kept tab of and will simply remember for next time.
LESSON #1 Never EVER EVER use cheap wire, specially if its 2mm thick as it is a pain in the #!$ to bend and make the right shape out of.
LESSON #2 Always attach each arm and leg separate because if you move one, the other moves aswell.
LESSON #3 Always use milliput rather then oven hardening clay (and if you are going to use oven hardening clay then make sure you buy the right stuff and dont waste £6 on something that is going to melt in the oven.
With the foil on a majority of the armature, this added a bit of bulk and I could add the polystyrene ball as the head which is where I learn't lesson #4.
LESSON #4 Plasticine DOES NOT easily stick onto polystyrene as the surface is too smooth and slippery. If you do use polystyrene then try wrapping it in cloth tape first.
I had to add an orange bag around the polystyrene ball to give it more grip. With the head attached I could start adding the plasticine to the armature which is where I learnt lesson #5.
LESSON #5 When your working in plasticine ALWAYS wash your hands after touching different colours as it stays on your hands and you get cross contamination, ESPECIALLY if your working in white.
To my disappointment (no surprises there!) I did not bulk up the armature enough to make the polar bear actually look like a polar bear so at this stage its pretty much anorexic and plasticine is running pretty low...
So this brings me to Lesson #6
LESSON #6 If your making a bulky character say for example a polar bear, it is better to build up the bulk as part of the framework in the armature rather then using plasticine to do it all.
So i've practically failed at building this armature as most of it has fallen apart before I even managed to complete it however I think this task has been extremely helpful as it acts as a learning curve from which I can take the mistakes of this attempt and not make them on the next go and hopefully produce something that is successful.