Thursday, October 06, 2011

Polymer clay artist: Danielle Ackley-McPhail



Website: Sidhe na Daire 
Artist: Danielle Ackley-McPhail



My name is Danielle Ackley-McPhail and I am a genre author and costumer. As such I go to various science fiction conventions on the east coast promoting my work. I started the costuming to reintroduce a bit of fun into what had become more work than entertainment. Given the nature of what I write (urban fantasy based on mythology, science fiction, some horror) and the focus of the conventions I was attending, the costumes tended toward the fantastical and even whimsical. Not wanting to look like I raided the local Halloween store, I needed to get creative with my accessories, which lead to experimentation with polymer clay.  Please visit me at Sidhe na Daire to see the full range of what I have produced.



Clay is so simple and (reasonably) easy to work, but the challenge is achieving different textures and effects so that the audience looks past the clay. The first item I ever attempted was a mask for a one-eyed, one-horned flying purple people eater.  I used mixed materials and glazes to achieve an eeriely realistic effect with the eye, while the rest of the mask is very subdued. With other masks I have used floral fronds, beads, glass lozenges and paint, among other things, to take the masks to the next level. I specialize in masks and costume horns, but have also dabbled with various other accessories, such as buttons and facial appliances. In part this allows me explore my tactile creativity and gives me the challenge of thinking what to do next to achieve interesting new effects. It also allows me to indulge my inner Halloween fanatic, while at the same time presenting a unique and distinct image for my present and future fans alike.


Polymer clay is inexpensive, versatile, and reasonably sturdy. Nearly anything you can imagine can be accomplished and it makes it simple as anything to custom create whatever element you need using a variety of base components from the local craft store or repurposing things you might have around the house or even find at your local hardware store--you would be surprised. In fact, I have refined my technique to the point where I make a pretty nice profit sell horns at events. Have fun with it, play; it is so simple to create with clay...for fun, fashion, or profit.


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