A glow-in-the-dark polymer clay “painting”!

Anyone who knows me knows I’m an 80’s tragic, so when Reddit Gifts announced an 80’s swap in the current round, I was all over it like slime on Peter Venkman (bonus points for those of you who get the reference)!

I always like to send something hand-made in these swaps if I can. As the person I’m sending gifts to listed E.T. as one of her favourite films (well, of course! I mean, what child of the 80’s didn’t like E.T.?), I started thinking about painting that moon scene. I then remembered that I’ve had a block of glow-in-the-dark clay lying around waiting for a project (because things that glow in the dark are cool), and, well, the rest kind of writes itself!

I painted a simple purple sky onto an 8″ square cradled wood panel using acrylics and then cut out a large round flat disk of the glow-in-the-dark clay for the moon. I swirled a bunch of Sculpey “Bake and Bond” around, put the disk down, smoothed it down and then baked it. To my initial horror, when it came out of the oven it was all bubbly and uneven, and I realised that the bake-and-bond had trapped air pockets under it. But when I looked at it some more, I realised what an incredible piece of serendipity it was, because it had accidentally created the most awesome moon-like texture!

After that I attached many layers of trees in black clay (all just triangles that I textured with a scalpel) and then baked the piece again, because I knew I’d need to lean on them during the next step. To create Elliot and E.T., I printed out a silhouette to the size I needed, cut it out with a very sharp scalpel, and then spent ages finessing it using needle-point tools and more scalpel trimming. (As a side note, this taught me a great deal about what detail can be left out without losing the meaning, something which will help in future clay pieces and paintings!). I had already put some bake-and-bond under it and did all the finessing with it in-place on the moon. I thought this was a better bet than trying to move it over afterwards. It was pretty painstaking – it’s only about an inch square – but in the end I really like how it looked.

Finally, having inscribed my signature into the trees before they were baked, I decided to see if I could embed some more glow-in-the-dark clay into it. Working it into the signature was easy enough. Getting just the excess off had me scratching my head for a little while until I hit on the idea of using some transparent bakeable medium to thin it, after which it rubbed off fairly easily in a few minutes.

One final bake, repaint the edges, and voila!

I had a blast making this and it was nice to do something other than painting. I really hope the recipient likes it!

Layer upon layer of trees. This piece ended up being surprisingly heavy!
This looks so cool glowing in the dark!

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