If you follow my social media, you may have seen some updates on a Hindu goddess I was making. A lovely friend of mine sent me a commission request for Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity (both physical and material). I just loved this idea and was thrilled – and a little bit apprehensive!
I looked through a few images I found on Pinterest and decided to approach my project as a clay relief on wood, adding different media to create the opulent and embellished style I love in Indian religious art.
- A4 wood
- balsa wood
- Polymer Clay (I used Fimo)
- Clay tools
- Gold leaf
- Assorted beads, metal charms
- Strong glue
- Paper flowers
- Clay varnish
- Pasta Machine
- Liquid sculpey
Using a print out as a general guide, I started by sketching an image onto the wood, adding a board round the sides. Gathering my base colours of blue, pink and gold, I started mixing different blues together to get an idea of shade and, using my pasta machine, rolled out the clay into small sheets.
Using my craft knife (a tool I use all the time) I cut out different shapes, basing them on my reference picture and placed them onto the wood. As I built up the image, I blended the clay together, which helped create depth and make it look like material of her dress. This process was time consuming, mainly as I needed to step away from my piece for a while and come back to it with fresh eyes. I knew where I wanted my embellishments to go, but needed to get the first part balanced.
One of the most challenging parts of this piece was making her four arms. I wanted to make sure the colour looked right, as well as get the angle of the pose for each one. I mixed together white, peach and yellow to get a flesh tone and copied the lines on the wood to make the arms the right shape. This was tricky as the pieces of clay not embedded didn’t want to stay in the right place. I used some liquid sculpey to help secure them before adding in the background, flowers and jewellery.
Once I had covered the piece in clay, I began adding beads and gems onto all the gold elements, and glued down the two Ganesh metal charms. This was my favourite part of the project, as I could be free with different mixed media and add it as I went along. I had bought the coin charms at a local bead shop for this as well, which I thought looked great as a symbol of Lakshmi’s wealth. I then baked the piece in the oven (obsessively checking it was OK!) and once it was cool, I began adding the sparkly gems and tiny mosaics to the boarders at the sides.
As I would work on this each evening, I was able to see it with fresh eyes and this allowed me to see what extra embellishments would work. I wanted to keep it light and the clear gems worked really well around her head. I painted her face with acrylic paint, which I found quite difficult. When I felt she was finished, I painted two coats of clay varnish over the top, but thought she needed to be set in a frame, giving the appearance of a shrine.
Wondering around the art shop, I decided to buy some thin strips of balsa wood, and using a strong glue, I stuck a piece to each side of the piece. After painting her red, I added some gold with a dry brush to help pull the colours together. Below is the finished piece and I am pretty pleased with how she came out 🙂