Of Course It Is Only a Scale Model... and it's Green
The Joy of Plasticine!
Perhaps even more hours than I spent playing with my LEGO I played with my Plasticine! (image on right from Mastermind toys.com) I am not sure if I discovered the incredible stuff in Kindergarten - that is for five-year-olds here in much of Canada, and was not yet mandatory when I was five in Alberta - or if I discovered it earlier. I am fairly certain it was in Kindergarten for I didn't have it at home... yet!
What we had at kindergarten for the most part was all coloured a strange sort of grey colour. The colour really didn't matter to me and at the time I didn't know that Plasticine, or modelling clay, came in different colours. I just thought it was incredible stuff that you could roll into lon snakes and make stuff out of. Perhaps much time was spent making balls and snakes and flat disks. But I also progressed to making basket or bowl shapes and the like. They were not huge sit on the shelf sorts of things, but just small kid things that you might be able to make with a quarter to half a cup of the clay... perhaps even a whole cup! I did wonder how you could make the stuff harden like the clay they made stuff on TV. I also knew that a few of the TV shows I watched use "clay" for the puppets. There was "Davy and Goliath" (image on right) and "Gumby and Pokey" (image on left) though the latter came later.
Mom made some modelling dough stuff at home for Sunday School out of salt and flour, but that just wasn't the same and it was so very salty and didn't mold right. I think my cousins had "Play Dough" but that smelled like a sort of candy-dessert that I really didn't care for and it really didn't feel right either. I sometimes discovered that I had some of the marvellous Plasticine in my pockets when I got home from Kindergarten and began collecting it at home until I actually had enough to play with at home. It wasn't anything done on purpose, mind you. Just one of those things that happens when five-year-olds play.
Eventually I discovered that Plasticine came in different colours and that the grey stuff of the Kindergarten play time was grey because it was a mixture of all the colours at once. I still did not mind because I really could not understand how a person might create something with modelling clay and still keep the colours separate. I am not sure if it was Mom or me who eventually bought the green Plasticine I got at home? I think maybe in time - and perhaps bathwater - the grey stuff got too yucky to keep. So from then on everything I made was with slightly higher quality green modelling clay. The monochromatic pallet did not bother me at all and I was always fond of green even when blue was my favourite colour.
I did get "Silly-Putty" (image on right) which I thought was rather fun, but silly because it wouldn't hold a form. It did have the ability to bounce and it could transfer "funny pages" or news print images to itself. It also could either stretch or crack like glass depending on how you handled it. You did have to be careful where you kept it because it sort of flowed like a liquid - albeit slowly. It became like a protoplasmic friend to my GI-Joe. I also got something called "Goop" - I think - which was a powder you mixed with water which became something like Silly-Putty but because you could have a larger amount you could blow a large bubble with it. Rather than the flesh coloured Silly-Putty, the Goop was a really dark reddish purple. I am not sure what became of it, but it was even runnier than the Silly-Putty. (It wasn't the "Plasti-Goop" used in Mattel's Thing-Maker and it isn't the Slime Kids have today.. though might be related to the later. Probably some sort of starch or algenate product.
The Silly-Putty and Goop could never hold a candle to the Plasticine though.
Later I used the Plasticine-modelling clay to make a mould for a paper maché mask. I discovered a new, more adult use for the Plasticine and thought about what I might make with it that I might make moulds of. I couldn't quite figure out the whole thing yet, but I went from fooling around to trying to make specific objects with it.
I loved making dinosaurs out of it and I also made submarines and space ships with it. It was much more flexible than the LEGO ever was for that, but the flexibility and pliability of the modelling clay was also a problem. Later I discovered that I could use a combination of body heat or a short while in the freezer to change the modelling consistancy of the clay. I also started to gather a few different tools for carving and forming the clay.
In the meantime, what led me to gathering up tools was my experience with using actual potter's clay. We had pottery in school and they taught us how to model and mold and sculpt that. I even learned a bit about throwing pots on a wheel and slabbing the clay in preperation for use. What I knew from my years with Plasticine did transfer a bit to the potter's clay though you don't stretch potter's clay like you do Plasticine.
For a while I made "Star Wars" and "Battlestar Galactica" type space ships for fun and tried my hand at making them consistantly enough so that I could make a handful of the same ship even if not actually copying any of the ships from the shows. I learned that to save clay I could mould the clay around other objects like marbles or pieces of wood. I could thus save on clay, but I also learned that these would act as "armatures" for more fragile areas.
With my experiences with Plasticine I learned a lot about working with three dimensional form. I actually realize that I can work in 3 dimensions better with two in artwork. My sculpting and carving is good for the amount of actual practical time I can put into it. I can also take a lump of clay and model it into whatever form I want and can imagine or see. If I see a cartoon character on TV or in a book, I can fairly quickly make it up with Plasticine and probably could as easily do it in other mouldable materials. It would only take some more work to do so with something needing carving and sculpting.
I still have yet to trasfer those skills to actual 3D work on the computer even though I can visualize what I need for my 2D working.
I do plan on doing more, making models with the Plasticine, or perhaps in wax or soap and then with rubber, alginate, plaster of paris, or perhaps paper mache make a mould of it so I can cast more permanent models or figures from plaster, ceramic, pewter, wax, or whatever.
I really still do love to have some Plasticine on hand to work with. I would like to collect some good and simple and easy to make in the kitchen recipes for things like Plasticine so I can make my own at home in colours and with the qualities I desire. For instance ones that will air harden and ones that won't, some that might harden in the oven. And ways to make it whatever colour I wish or be paintable or decorateable however I wish.
Still the neat thing is simply creating! Fun even if it is only in green...
WiseGEEK - What is Plasticine? -o- Plasticine - Wikipedia -o- Home Plasticine Video - metacafe (Not really Plasticine, but that salt and flour modelling dough) -o- The EffectsLab.com - View Topic - can clay be oiled again??? my oil based clay = drying out (Some Plasticine Recipes are on this page.)