I have a friend who’s going through some shit, and we were both talking about naked mole rats. As you know, I love, LOVE weird creatures and always want to draw them, pet them.
So I’m making a naked mole rat. I had some la doll stone clay, that I’d never used, that I bought on deep discount a while back to play with. So I broke it out and started messing around.
Now, naked mole rats are basically a wrinkled penis with legs and teeth- so it seemed like an easy way to start messing with clay. I’ve played around with sculpey before and polymer clays, but never with air-dry clay.
The first thing I learned was that water is needed. You have to have damp hands. I kind of formed a naked mole rat body, with legs. I used the clay tools to separate his wee toes, then set him to dry overnight.
I didn’t know how long this would take to dry- the package says nothing, and nowhere online could I find any estimate on dry times for this clay. Overnight, it seemed like the outside half-inch of the clay was dry, so I got out the dremel and marked some of his wrinkles using a wood-carving burr.
And some of his little whisker nubs (I am going to use a dead paintbrush to make the whiskers on him, and glue them into the clay) and holes for googly eyes. Now I know naked mole rats do not have eyes, but this one NEEDS googly eyes, so just humor me.
Then I took water and got the dry clay surface wet, and smoothed on a new layer of wet clay to make the wrinkles kind of real. I used wet clay and the tools to carve out his face better. I have some real rat teeth I’m going to embed for his monsterous teeth. (including a photo of a real naked mole rat here for comparison)
Another friend has a knit sweater he will wear, when he’s finished.
If you let his clay dry out a tiny bit, it’s easier to work with the tools on it. when it’s really fresh and wet, it’s easier to bend and shape it with your hands; and getting a little water on the surface and smearing it around gets rid of a lot of the marks of fingerprints and stuff. I am using a buffer on my dremel to smooth it out once it’s all the way dry, too, and that works really well.
I didn’t wear a mask while I was carving him but I really should have, the dust from the clay was EVERYWHERE.
Also, his feet broke off. Like I said, I’ve never worked with air-dry clay before and didn’t realize how fragile the small bits might become. I’ll have to figure out an alternative (for now, he has stumps)
Naked mole rats are hive mammals. I had a friend over last night who was telling me that naked mole rats are one of the few mammals to exhibit altruism- helping another who is not their offspring, sometimes risking their own life. It’s thought to be because like any hive creature, they will put the well-being of the meta-organism above their own. Very human of them.
The philadelphia zoo has a giant ant-farm-ish display of naked mole rats. You can watch them eat, dig, and play in it. It’s basically just that, a giant ant farm for them to live in.
It’s pretty awesome.
I’ll post about finishing this piece later on tonight; I still have to buff it, then paint it.