Jim creates most of his pieces with a base sculpture which is then adorned with thousands of tiny Millefiori "tiles" which are each hand applied.
Millefiori is actually Italian for "Thousand Flowers" and originally the technique was used in creating decorative Italian glass pieces. Jim uses a similar process to create his polymer clay tiles which he then uses to adorn his sculptures.
Each piece can take between 40 to 160 hours of work, depending on size and complexity, and no paint is ever used.
The vibrant colours of polymer clay will retain their brilliance for decades to come.
I start with Armature wire, Aluminum foil and base clay
To create the basic sculpture, I twist the wire into a rough skeleton and cover it with aluminum foil for musculature. I then gradually add and sculpt the base clay.
With the end result in mind (in this case cardinal feathers) I then select the colors I will need to make an effective "tile tube".
This is where the most fun occurs. In order to make feathers for my Cardinal, I create one large 3D feather about 1" deep.
This is then pressed and shaped into a "tube" which carries the feather image from front to back.
The "tube" can now be sliced into thin, individual feathers. I graduated this tube so that I coud cut both short and long feathers.
Sliced tiles at the ready, I can now apply each one to the basic sculpture.