Sculpting The Tooth Fairy

I need a new approach to writing posts for Uhmm. I often find myself wanting to write for the site, but then it comes down to a toss up: sculpt or write. Then, when I have made time to write for the site, I feel rushed.

I’m presently attempting to write this while having my lunch at work. My goal isn’t to fill every moment with “productivity” but I’m going to have to find some between moments if I’m going to both write and sculpt. Honestly, just writing at lunch-time would have the added benefit for my digestion. Instead of the usual “insert food in mouth and swallow” lunch lasting five minutes, I’ll have the opportunity to fully chew my food.


I recently completed my “Tooth Fairy” sculpt. It was the culmination of 4 months of work, and comprised a number of reworks, changing of directions, and loads of steady patience. I loved every minute of it. This was my first sculpture using Chavant NSP medium clay. It worked similar to Monster Clay, but with its own peccadillos. One of which I found out the hard way: don’t smooth your Chavant with Isopropyl Myristate. It will work great at smoothing, but your clay surface will never “harden” again. Best to read your materials sheets. The information was out there, I just hadn’t considered it. It wasn’t the end of the piece, but did make some of the work more difficult.

The idea for The Tooth Fairy arose from a desire to take something innocuous and well established and transform it into something creepy and vile. I had been mulling the idea of reimagining the Tooth Fairy when a creative group I attended gave a word prompt: Myth. It clicked into place and I put together a rough background for this vile Tooth Fairy.

The Story

This Tooth Fairy was once a beautiful fairy, playful and mischievous like all fairies. She had fallen in love with a young human, and spent her days following him about and fawning over him. She plotted the day she would reveal herself to him and consummate her love. Little did she know there was another fairy who had fallen for the young man as well. Yeah, he must have been something special to gain all of this attention - but I never really thought deeply abut who he was or why any fairies would be smitten with him … so plot hole … anyway, little did she know this other fairy had been swooning over the young man as well. And this fairy had plans of her own.

The day came when she decided to reveal herself to the young man. Filled with nervous excitement she stole through the fairy village, and raced through the grassy fields which lay on the outskirts of the young man's home. Breathless she arrived, her heart overflowing with love. She skirted beneath his front door and raced toward his study. She heard the young man speaking with someone, laughing light heartedly, obviously in a jolly mood. Hesitant, she peeked around the opening of his study door and there she found the young man in conversation with the other fairy.

Her heart sank as she was overcome with a deep and heavy sadness. She fled, barely making it to the fields before bursting into gut wrenching sobs. She had never experienced such sorrow. Unable to bear the thought of other fairies seeing her in such a state she hid herself away. Days passed while this grief tormented her, slowly turning from sadness and sorrow to anger and outrage. Those tendrils of sorrow and unrequited love snaked their way through her like a poison. She made a decision: if she couldn’t have the young man, then neither could the other fairy. You see where this is going. So she finds the other fairy and in a vile rage she thrashes her, destroying her wings, stabs her multiple times with a thorn, and bites a chunk of flesh from her cheek. Believing the fairy dead, she dumps the body in the fairy equivalent of the local trash heap. But of course, the fairy didn’t die and was soon found. Our fairy is brought before a council of elders for punishment.

The elders banish her from fairy land, but not before they remove all of her teeth, and cast a spell which ages her, robbing her of her youthful beauty and ensuring no young men would ever fall for her charms. Sent out into the world, alone, her mind already poisoned by her jealousy and rage, she slowly dements. As time goes by our fairy considers reclaiming her youth. She has tricks of her own. She can cover herself in a mirage, appearing as her old self, and she can take the teeth of someone else to replace her own. She goes out into the night, finding young children asleep in their beds, and takes their teeth. Is this a some kind of magical extraction? No. She violently rips them from the mouths of screaming children, prying them out with her razor sharp nails, often slashing open their throats to still their writhing bodies. And yet it is all for naught as the teeth yellow and rot within minutes, a by product of the spell the elders cast upon her. But our fairy is demented beyond all reason at this point, believing the next time will be different. Nightly she goes out in search of a young child to extract their teeth, hoping one day they will stay and her beauty will be restored.

With this in mind I sought out some visual sources. My first thought was to make her a large, bulbous mound of flesh. Cover her in aged rolls of fat and sagging skin. I found some toothless images of old women I thought were wonderful, and I started there. Outside of a quick sketch of the face, which I never looked at again, I didn’t plan.

Plan Ahead if You Can

This is the second time I didn’t plan ahead enough, and because of this, I lost a lot of time. I mean, I originally hoped I could complete this thing in six weeks. I wanted to enter it into a contest on the Stan Winston site. I missed the deadline by two months. I found myself going down avenues I ultimately did not like, so I was tearing things apart and starting over. I found myself burning time trying to imagine how I might like her hands and her feet, starting, stopping, redoing. Had I considered these and sketched them out beforehand, I could have possibly saved myself a lot of time and rework. The lack of planning cost me time on the body, hands, the feet, and the wings.

The Body

Tearing off the body after having built it up to the point of roughing in the head canned a good number of hours. As I said above, I went for a fat, lumpy type of body shape originally. I remember thinking how it would be fun to really get into those folds and mounds of flesh. But it didn’t look right. At one point, working on the head and roughing in the mouth, it took on a goofy, clownish type feel. It looked more like a children’s show mascot than a nightmarish freak who was there to rip out your teeth. So I tore it all down to the armature and started over. I Still wanted to have distressed flesh, so I went old age and mottled. By the time I added the head to the body I knew I was on the right track.

The Hands

Hands are hard. I didn’t really know what I wanted for her, but thought there would definitely be some large, sharp, fingernails. I don’t know if I would have saved much time on the hands had I sketched them out, because they’re difficult and time consuming no matter what. Well, they are for me at this point in my skill. I did watch a few Stan Winston sculpt videos while working on this and saw some approaches to hands I’ll try in the future. Hopefully they will help speed them up, and make them more stable. I got so tired of accidentally cracking off the fingers and having to reset them.


Had I planned I would have saved a good chunk of hours on the feet. After mulling it over for a bit I decided to go with bird-like talons. I set up the legs with a reverse joint and modeled them off of a crow's foot. In the end it looked too armored and didn’t fit with the body. After staring at them for a few days I tore them off and went with more of a dinosaur type of foot. Images of dinosaur feet served as the inspirational jumping off point. How they ended up is probably more akin to a lizard or possibly a dragon foot? I don’t know. What I do know is I like them and was glad I redid the feet.

The Wings

The wings are the one thing I’m not crazy about on this sculpt. They’re not successful. Sure, she looks cool when you’re looking at her from the front or three-quarter view, but seeing her in profile or from the back just reveals the flaw of the design. The wings are too bulky, and too heavy, and there is a huge hump on her back I never wanted. This was due to trying to figure out how to get the wings setup after having built the armature and covered it in clay. Clay which was sculpted and I was satisfied with. I felt I would have to get all the way into the armature to potentially do it without a hump which would have resulted in tearing her apart. I decided I liked where I was at too much and I was too far along to successfully recreate what I had, so hump it was. In the future there will be a lot of preliminary work prior to starting anything with wings. There has to be a method to make them lighter and more believable. I’ve seen great examples out there by others.

Oh Yeah, the Mount

This was a pretty good fuck up as well. My first time using a pipe mount for the armature. Cool, always good to try new things. Without thinking I secured it to my lazy susan instead of a separate piece of board. I’ll have to patch the lazy Susan once I transplant it. I also didn’t set the end of the pipe correctly, so the huge fitting at the end of the pipe is protruding out the back of the figure's body. No getting this off as the armature is wrapped around it at the figures center. I knew I wasn’t going to cast this one, so, so be it. But it is definitely an amature mistake.


This one was a lot of fun to work on, but aren’t all of them? It was cool using Chavant for the first time as well. Not terribly different from Monster Clay but different enough. You just have to use it to know. Overall I love the piece, but wish the wings had turned out better. I suppose sometime I’ll just work on some wings in and of themselves and figure out a better way to go about them. I could possibly use a wire mesh, and definitely integrate the wing armature into the body armature prior to laying any clay.

I have a toaster oven for warming the clay, but it is not always ideal. I can’t keep it in there cooking away at a low enough temperature to ensure the NSP is soft enough to easily work with, without it eventually liquifying. A low temp crock pot might work. My crock for Monster Clay doesn’t have any temp control and it will liquify given enough time as well. So for now, when it comes to NSP I have to warm it up, take it out, work with it, and when it becomes too firm or difficult to work chunks off the block, toss her back into the toaster oven. Not terrible, but it does interrupt the flow.

As I said before, no Isopropyl Myristate. It does a wonderful job of smoothing out the surface, but then the surface stays soft and almost jelly like. I thought I may have ruined it at first, but thankfully I was able to continue working with it. But I won’t do that again. From then on I simply used 99% isopropyl alcohol. I will try it with Monster Clay and see how it works. I don’t like the way the alcohol leaves a white, chalky film on the Monster Clay so maybe it will work there. I can also use mineral spirits for the Monster Clay, but I’m not crazy about breathing it in and getting it on my hands.

Hands and feet are a bitch. I watched some videos which had some tips on creating and reinforcing them, so I now have a couple of approaches I can try on future sculptures.

Over the course of this sculpt I picked up a number of new tools. One invaluable tool I used for Tooth Fairy was a cake stencil. Basically a tube you can fill with clay, then you twist a knob which forces the clay through the end. You use different shaped stencils at the end of the tube. Kind of like those old school play-doh doohickeys you mashed play-doh through to make tubes and turds and what not, except this is an adult version. I used this for Tooth Fairy’s hair. I picked up two - one for Chavant and one for Monster Clay. I also picked up a legit armature stand. This should make the next large figure I create much nicer to work with.

What's Next

I’m presently doing some rough sketches for my next piece. Trying to do the prep work I have been talking about in this post. Beside saving time, I’m planning my approach because I want to mold and cast this one.

What I’m doing: I’m taking the skull study I did previously and turning it into an H.R. Giger inspired bio-mechanical. When I molded the top of the skull head in march the teeth were slightly damaged. At first I thought I’d just fix them up and have the piece back to normal but I changed my mind. This will be much more fun and I’m already part way there due to reusing the skull. My hope is this one will go much quicker then my others as I’m anxious to do a lot of different projects.

And then there is the studio shed. I’ll write about this another time.

Author: Jason Jacobs

Jason Jacobs is an artist, project manager, and frontend web designer living and working in Boise, Idaho. Beyond work he spends his time with family, as well as reading, writing articles for Uhmm, and working on his art. All words and opinions, etc., are his and do not reflect the positions or beliefs of anyone other than himself.