PlanetJune Craft Blog

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polymer clay R2-D2 sculpture

…a project 3 years in the making.

Way back in January 2007, I posted a cryptic wip (work-in-progress) of a FIMO sculpture I’d started:

polymer clay stulpture... in progress!
Can you tell what it is yet? 😉

Yes, I’m a lifelong Star Wars geek, and I was making a model R2-D2. I finished and baked the head, and then… nothing. I’d actually intimidated myself – the head was so detailed and so good that I didn’t think I’d be able to make a body to do justice to it! Also, I really wanted the head to be jointed so that it could rotate, and I wasn’t quite sure how to accomplish that. I filled a page in my notebook with sketches and ideas, but I never got any further than that. And the  longer I waited, the less likely it became that I’d ever finish my R2 project 🙁

This Christmas, I decided that after working myself so hard for an entire year (never work for me – I am a demanding boss!) I’d take a week off to spend time with Dave and just relax. And relaxing, for me, involves making stuff, so I got out the FIMO and set to work. A week and many baking sessions in the toaster oven later, here is the finished R2-D2:

polymer clay R2-D2 by planetjune
I strongly suggest you click through to see the larger picture! You can’t really see the detail at this scale.

I am so happy with how he turned out! He is perfectly hand-sized at 8cm (just over 3″) tall, and he comes with a secret special feature: yep, I managed to get that rotating head working! I embedded a rare earth magnet into his body, and stuck a second magnet to the base of his head. This lets the head rotate smoothly and freely. Not sure what I’m talking about? Here’s a shot of the inside:

polymer clay R2-D2 by planetjune - head rotation mechanism

(The purple clay inside the body is just a core I made by smushing all my leftover unbaked scraps from past FIMO projects together. As it doesn’t show in the finished piece, there’s no point in wasting a huge lump of new clay, so I made a cylinder from the scrap clay, baked it, and then covered it in a sheet of white clay to form the torso.)

The head magnet fits perfectly inside the recessed hole. There’s a second magnet just beneath the surface of the clay at the bottom of the hole, so the head doesn’t fall off the body but can swivel freely. The rare earth magnets are so strong that, even when separated by a thin layer of clay, you can safely lift R2 by his head and his body will stay firmly attached. Here’s a little animation of his head moving:

polymer clay R2-D2 by planetjune

This project was a great break from my normal life. I love the enforced calm that comes with my polymer clay work.  It’s so detailed and precise that I have to empty my mind and just concentrate on slicing off that sliver of clay, or smoothing out that fingerprint – it’s almost meditative. My batteries are recharged and I’m ready to tackle 2010!

28 Comments »

  1. Caroline said

    OMG! This is FANTASTIC!!! NERDTASTIC! and definitely a WIN!!!

  2. Debbie Stassin said

    I love your R2-D2! My whole family loves Star Wars! You really out did yourself with this creation. Your attention to detail is appreciated! I am all fumble-thumbs with clay, so I enjoyed your efforts by bringing my favorite Star Wars character to life!

  3. Lindy said

    Incredible – there’s no other word for it! Great detail and just looks fantastic. The animation is brilliant too.

  4. Corvus said

    So very awesome! I bet you’re going to get a lot of internet attention for this one.

  5. Wow! You are so talented, June. Thank you so much for sharing your amazing R2-D2 with us.

  6. Tibi said

    Geek-credible, June!

    SO worth the investment of time to get it JUST right, you’ve done him proud, methinks!

  7. Tal said

    It’s awesome!!! Worth waiting for. Can’t believe the detail!

  8. Carina said

    Best recreation of R2 ever. And I have seen my fair share of ’em. You rock, m’lady.

    I suggest the Death Star for your next project. It’s only slightly more detailed than R2. (-:

  9. Sally said

    Well done on the attention to detail – your R2-D2 sculpture looks brilliant! 🙂

  10. Michelle said

    Wow, this is *so* awesome. All those little details, I can’t imagine making something so intricate (and small!). This totally rocks! =)

  11. Rebekah said

    oh my goodness! you are amazing! This turned out great!

  12. Jennifer said

    Holy moly, this is absolutely outstanding! Found this link on Twitter and I’m off to spread the love some more. Great job 🙂

  13. Robyn said

    That turned out awesome!

  14. That is absolutely amazing! I’d have probably baked in a Lazy Susan bearing to get the swivel effect not sure how small you can get them though.

    I am now tempted to go and dig out my polymer clay…

    Again he really is fantastic and I am awed by the detail!

    Sarah/Saffy

  15. Stephanie said

    I came across your blog via Craft… this sculpture is absolutely amazing! I am definitely busting out the polymer clay now, but it’ll be awhile before I progress to your level of detail =)

  16. Wendy said

    You should be so proud of yourself, that is awesome.

  17. futuregirl said

    I *love* that this is the sort of thing you do in “down time.” So cool! And it’s pretty unbelievable the level of detail and craftsmanship in the tiny RD-D2! Wow wow wow. You’re like a Star Trek replicator, except you take a little longer. 😉

  18. James Griffin said

    Great work there, I love him! Kudos with the magnet, those little things are great aren’t they? you’ve finished him so nicely, I’m very impressed.
    James

  19. Miriam said

    Just amazing. Amazing! I love all my fellow nerd/geek crafters.

  20. Debbie Buckland (NZ) said

    this is absolutely awesome!
    Mine have Nothing to compare to this.
    You motivate me to make better things with polymer clay!

  21. melissa said

    oh my gosh june!
    it is fabulous!
    you are amazing!
    happy happy new year!
    xoxox
    melissa and emmitt

  22. June said

    Thank you all so much! R2 now has pride of place on the shelf above my desk 🙂

    And I’m so happy I’ve inspired some of you to play with polymer clay too! Don’t be intimidated – just grab the clay and start playing with it. The great thing about polymer clay is it doesn’t dry out or harden until you bake it, so if it goes wrong, you haven’t lost anything – you can always smush it up and try again until it does what you’re hoping for. Enjoy the process!

  23. Anna M. said

    Are you going to make C-3PO too? Just a thought. Great job by the way.

  24. Cath said

    The detail on this sculpture is amazing! Perfect coloration, too.

    I spent an unreasonable amount of time studying photos of R2D2 recently. This fall I made a wool, needle felted Artoo for my kid’s birthday, and it was a challenge for me to fit the important elements in it.

    http://www.waldorfmodern.com/2009/11/needle-felted-r2.html

  25. Joan said

    All I can say is, “Wow”!! Okay, that’s not exactly true; your work is amazing. I came to your site looking at your crochet work and stumbled on your rentdition of R2D2. Magnificent. I appreciate the perfectionist detail that I anally bring in my own work (meant as a compliment).

  26. Nyssa Rae said

    WOW!, that is so Awesome, well done, and I agree, relaxing is about taking on a time consuming but less stressful creative activity 🙂 Something for yourself, instead of for a purpose! 😀

  27. Rose said

    I totally love it! I love star wars and so does the rest of my family. And who doesnt love someone like R2? I love this! Sooooo Cool!

  28. martin said

    cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    June Gilbank

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