When I laid eyes on the sculpture shown above, I was immediately impressed with the attention to detail in the lovely reproduction of the Ashes of Al'ar. Sure, I've tried my hand at crafting various things with clay over the years, but I've never done anything quite that technical. It turns out Euphyley, the sculptor who submitted the image above, has a whole host of gorgeous clay crafts she's created over the years.
From reproductions of mounts and pets to WoW-themed keychains and more, Euphyley's got a talent for small-scale sculpture that has to be seen to be believed. And when presented with an opportunity to interview her, how could I resist? Check out the gallery for more of Euphyley's work, and read on for some words from Euphyley herself.
Hi Euphyley! Tell us a little bit about yourself -- do you have a background in art?
Well, let me start off with the basics. My real name is Jessica, however in game and in the Warcraft community I generally go by Euphyley. I've been playing WoW for about seven years. I switch between mains more often than the sun rises and sets, but I usually try to stick with ranged classes and ones that can heal. I also met my husband through the game, and we now have a beautiful ten month old daughter. I work part-time in a small town office and create my little "projects" in my free time when my little girl is sleeping.
I do have a bit of formal art schooling. I took several art classes in high school and in college, but I ultimately ended up pursuing a Business Degree. Although I've never pursued art professionally, I've always been creating some kind of art project. I absolutely love to draw, and have been doing that for as long as I can remember. I've also been painting recently as well.
What got you started working with clay?
I've been working with polymer clay for a very long time. I actually started working with it when I was in grade school. One of my family friends was a polymer clay artist, and I'd often visit her on the weekends to make beads and jewelry. Then in high school I took some pottery classes and made some pretty awesome pieces, but making objects on pottery wheels and forming other various vessels in that fashion never really appealed to me.
I put all of my clay and tools away for a few years when I went off to college, but dusted them off again a little while ago when I was "re-inspired" to pick them up again by my friend and guild-mate Kelsey of Little Fat Dragons. Kelsey started working with polymer clay a couple of years ago making these absolutely adorable chubby little dragons. She was having so much fun creating her little creatures that I just couldn't resist taking my tools out of the closet, dusting them off, and seeing what I could do.
What really struck me about your work are all the incredible little details! What kind of tools do you use?
I use a wide variety of tools when creating projects. I have a couple of different size knives, slicing tools, texture wheels, a roller (like a small rolling pin), and other various odds and ends I use on the clay pre-oven. Post-oven pieces will sometimes see a bit of sand paper and denim for buffing. As silly and cliché as it probably sounds though, my favorite tools are simply my hands. Sometimes it seems that I can do more with the clay with a couple of fingers than any specialized tool ever could.
Can you tell us a little about the process of creating a piece?
A good portion of the pieces I've created have been based on pets and mounts in game. (I'm a major pet and mount collector in game -- must have all the things!) For a lot of my projects I actually clear a large area in front of my computer screen to work on a piece, and log right into WoW to look at a nice 3D version of what I want to create. For example - when I was working on bringing Ashes of Al'ar to life in clay, I logged into a toon, mounted up and I could then move the camera in and out and spin it any way I wanted in order to view every angle I could. For the little treant I created, I logged onto my druid and had her standing there for a good long time while I did the same thing.
As far as deciding what to actually create next -- most of my pieces have been based on pets that I simply like, others were based on suggestions from members of the WoW community. Then there were pieces that I chose just to see if I could do them as a personal challenge.
How long does it usually take to create a piece?
The amount of time I put into a particular piece really depends on how detailed it is. Creating Speedy the Turtle vs. a Cenarion Hatchling, although about the same size, will take me vastly different amounts of time to complete. Speedy may take me under a couple of hours from start to finish. The Hatchling however would require significantly more time because of the details required on the wings and tail, antlers and delicate front legs.
Actually, pretty much anything with feathers is going to be a lot more time consuming. The most challenging piece I've created so far is without a doubt the larger Ashes of Al'ar figurine. It took me an entire weekend to complete that piece working on it on and off a few hours at a time. I was lucky enough to have my parents visiting that weekend to help out with the baby so that I could really focus on it. I'd guesstimate my total time on that project to be somewhere around ten hours.
The most time consuming part of that project was without a doubt the wings. After completing just one of them I was ready to pull my hair out. I had to individually create and carefully place EVERY single feather. *twitches* Then, as the project was nearing it's end it became increasingly difficult to work with because handling it without ruining some part of it seemed nearly impossible. When it came out of the oven unscathed my sigh of relief was probably heard halfway across the planet.
You have lots of small scale pieces that are adorable -- have you ever worked with or considered working with large-scale pieces?
The largest project I've done so far is that Ashes of Al'ar piece I just mentioned -- with wings scaling about 7.5''.
I do plan on doing some larger pieces. Exactly what I'd create and how large is yet to be decided, but I'm kind of leaning toward making either some large scale dragon (perhaps based on the proto-drake model) or a very large treant. Large pieces are definitely in my future! ;)
What other kinds of art projects do you do?
As I mentioned earlier, I do like to draw and paint. My drawings tend to be doodles and sketches though rather than finished pieces. I've painted a couple of pre-Cataclysm landscape pieces that I was rather proud of, but I haven't shared any of those online. My favorite zone to paint is Ashenvale. There is this one spot -- near the Shrine of Aessina, where the path leads down past some puddles of water and fallen trees -- I could paint that every day. So pretty. That I do strictly for me though.
I also have a couple of WoW-centric blogs that I maintain, but I wouldn't classify them as artsy in any way. (Unless you want to classify transmog as an art form!)
Any advice to people looking to get started with polymer clay? What kind of things should they watch out for?
Wash your hands and clean your work-space! Everything sticks to polymer clay -- EVERYTHING. Seriously -- cat hair, dust, the crumbs from your neighbor's pizza that they had last week -- they will all find a way to get stuck in your clay. Don't just wash them before you start a project either, you should clean them between colors as well to prevent the colors from mixing -- baby wipes are great between colors.
Also, not all polymer clay brands are created equal. Some require a lot more kneading and working before they will be soft enough to work with (generic store brands). Others can be too soft entirely, and difficult to work with as a result. Some will also become much more brittle than others once cooked. I mostly use Sculpey Premo and Sculpey III. Neither need to be worked to death before using them, and they won't become too brittle after cooking.
I think the most important piece of advice I can give though is to practice, have fun with it, and ultimately aim to create something that you love. It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I absolutely love World of Warcraft (and pugs). All of my projects are focused on those two things. If someone asked me to sculpt a car or a football, I know it wouldn't be as good as it could be if someone who loved those things created them. If you love what your creating I truly believe that will bleed through into your work.
Do you have any new projects coming up that you'd like to share?
I actually have a list on my desk of all the random things people have requested or simply would like to see. A couple of things on this list include the Time-Lost Proto-Drake, Malorne (aka Alliance druid travel form), Yu'la, Broodling of Yu'lon, and other various pets/mounts.
I also have plans on bringing a few rare hunter pets to life eventually, including Loque'nahak, Terrorpene and my current favorite Acroniss.
I'd like to say a huge thank you to WoW Insider for featuring me, and I also want to thank all of the awesome members of the WoW community who have been supportive of my work. Thank you! <3
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us -- and good luck with your future projects! For more of Euphyley's work, you can check out her gallery on deviantART.
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