• Belinda

Been on a Bear Hunt

Hi again and welcome to April. The weather is definitely cooling down, and getting darker at either end of the day. Soon it will be the perfect season for arty crafty projects at home to fill in the longer winter evenings. The MDF kits from Faith Pocock Craft Studio make an excellent hobby all year around, but if you've been wondering about maybe having a go, then winter would be an excellent season to start off in.

I don't know about you, but I'm not overly fussed on taxidermy. I find it a little bit creepy, and sad to think of those beautiful animals who once lived and enjoyed walking this earth. So when it comes to an animal head, this latest project is a much better idea, for my tastes, anyway.

My first project for April is a Bear Head - trophy style. Check him out...

Bear Head

Bear Head dry run construction
Bear Head dry run construction

First, the dry run. It was an essential step in working out the order of the pieces. The dry run complete for this kit, I went through and labelled the pieces in the order of construction so I could make sure to keep them in order. Mixing up the order could make for a very odd-shaped bear. Unfortunately, though I thought ahead by labelling the pieces, in pencil as you can see in the above photo, I did not think about what happens when I paint over the numbers. Oops! So I do recommend using a post-it note or masking tape or something to write on so you can remove and reaffix as you decorate each layer. I got this handy tip from a fellow Design Team member.

Once it's all in the correct order and labelled, pull everything apart again and proceed with decorating. Or glue together and decorate as a whole, but this is not my personal preference, preferring to work on each piece individually. I find it much easier than trying to squeeze a paintbrush into small crevices.

I went around in circles on the look I wanted for this bear, originally thinking a lovely layered series of brown tones to create a fur look would be cool. I still think it would be, but in the end the timeframe I had available dictated my choice. My approach for the kit had few steps and came together relatively quickly. If I'd had the time to do my original plan, I would probably still be working on it in three months time, and I'm not sure I would have achieved what I wanted. Sometimes quicker is better. So I went with white paint and all the bear head pieces (not the two large mounting pieces) were done in this. One coat for the back side of each piece and two coats for the front side. The back sides are visible after construction so not painting the back was important for my design choice.

Bear head pieces painted white
Layers all painted white

This kit is fantastically easy to paint in a single, even colour. Lay the pieces out and use a roller to roll on your chosen colour. Quick and easy. I did go around all the edges with a fine paintbrush and gave them all a nice white edge as I didn't want black edges for this particular look. A little time consuming and fiddly, but worth it.

Since my numbering system was very quickly obliterated, I worked on a trestle table and made sure to lay the pieces out in order, keeping that order through the entire process. When I needed to move the pieces I stacked them in order and then re-laid them out carefully again to do more work. Can I again recommend some form of sticky label system?! ;-)

The only pieces I painted differently were the two nose pieces and the two mounting pieces. The very front nose piece was painted in Resene's Yellow Blast, and the back nose piece, first painted white, was them sponged with Resene's Gold Dust. Both paints are metallic. I also added Blast Yellow to the inside of the ears.

For the mounting pieces, I chose a blue-green colour to paint the top piece. The bottom piece I painted with Yellow Blast. I recommend that both sides of each piece are painted as there are some areas on the back that show and to prevent any potential warping prior to the pieces being glued together. Once glued there should be no warping possible.

Pieces decoupaged with white tissue
Tissue decoupaged on

My second step was to decoupage plain white tissue (recycled from various gifts and purchases) onto the front side of the pieces. I used Gel Matte Medium for this, but PVA would work just as well. I applied it with a brush, working in small sections so the adhesive didn't dry before I could get the tissue on. I crinkled the tissue as I went to get a good texture going. There is plenty of space between the layers to carry it. My cautionary word about this approach is the area above the slits where it slides onto the central pieces. I tried to leave a gap, but where I didn't I let the adhered tissue rip during the final construction step. There was only a few times where I needed to re-glue tissue down when it tore adversely. Doing this has absolutely no detrimental effect on the end look. You cannot directly see these areas, being obscured in the center by all of the other layers.

Sponging tissue with gold paint
Sponging tissue with gold paint

Step Three - the quickest and most satisfying decorating stage. Using a piece of sponge dipped into my favourite metallic gold paint from Resene (Gold Dust), I dabbed it lightly over the surface of the tissue trying to mostly catch the raised ridges.

The section shown in the photograph is the one with the eyes. I forgot to bring something to use for the eyes on the day of putting it together so I decided to proceed with construction and add the eyes the following day. That worked fine.

So onto construction..........

Two mounts for the bear head
Double mounts for the bear head

The mounting/base pieces only fit together properly one way. The piece with the pointed tip (right side in the photo) goes on top of the piece with the flat edge (left side in the photo). A good squiggle around of woodworking PVA glue and matching them up in the correct position and order.

For the bear head pieces, starting with the first one next to the mount/base, I applied a line of PVA in the two slots and slid the piece carefully into position. I followed this procedure for all pieces.

Slotting the bear head pieces into place
Slotting the bear head pieces into place

I finished up by adding some gems for eyes. I was torn over what style to use, but eventually went for the more "eye" looking option of what was in my stash. So here is my completed bear, who I have named "Karhu", the Finnish word for bear.

Until next time,


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