I find it hard to resist buying ratty ornaments on the very rare occasions that I see them, but I keep finding myself thinking "I could do better than that!"
With memories of some success at school pottery club, many, many years ago, I bought myself a tub of air-drying clay and set about making my very own clay ratty. The result looked recognisably rat-like, but not anything special. Because I forgot that you have to work the clay first, he slowly cracked as he dried.
Having done some web searching, I found a site called The Polymer Clay Pit which sells a variety of brands of plastic clay - the stuff that you bake in the oven to set it. My second ratty was created using Creall-Therm polymer clay, with an aluminium foil and brass wire skeleton. I bought a large block of flesh coloured clay, with the idea that I could leave his ears and feet unpainted, and use acrylic paint for the rest of him. His head turned out rather large, but I was so pleased with it that I carried on and made a body to fit. So here's Toby! I'm quite proud of him, although he does look a little dog-like and I didn't do a very good job with the paint.
Attempt number three began, trying to create a smaller ratty. At first he was meant to stand up, but I held him horizontally while I was shaping his body and realised that he looked as if he was hanging his head over a shelf, just like my ratty boys do. This little chap has turned out very skinny and not particularly rat-like, but quite cute. He's called Piper and lives on my kitchen windowsill.
There's still a lot of learning to do before I make anything that looks professional, but in the meantime I'm gathering a collection of ratty models and enjoying the process. It's occurred to me that I've been making the mistake of giving my ratties a neck, which they just don't have! Just got to get some more clay and have another go.
This is fun! The more ratties I make the more they actually look like ratties! My project is to make a model of each of my eight boys. I've already got Pogo, Fox and Pirate.
See my ratty sculptures for sale.
Annette, May/June 2003