Mountain lions, also known as cougars or pumas, are large cats native to areas in North and South America. These cats can grow to weight about 140 pounds, and can be about 6 feet in length. They are sleek predators that are usually solitary. For this reason, and because they are an endangered species, these beautiful creatures are rarely seen by humans. Because of their grace and strength, big cats, such as mountain lions, are often portrayed in art. A clay sculpture is just one way to capture the majesty of this animal.
Form your clay into a 6-inch-by-5-inch rectangle. Lay it down with the short sides at the top and bottom. Mark a point by indenting with your fingernail 1 inch across from the top-left corner. Mark a point on the right side that is 1 1/2 inches up from the bottom. Draw a line with your clay-shaping tool that connects the two points forming a triangle in the upper-right corner of the clay.
Cut the triangle from the main piece. Set aside.
Stand the main piece of clay up so that 1-inch side of the trapezoid is the furthest side away from the table. Press your hands along the 6 1/2-inch diagonal side, so that the sides of the clay begin to bulge out and the body of the sitting mountain lion begins to be formed. Use your thumbs to smooth the clay downward so it widens, and eventually the edges of the sides will become rounded.
Cut a 1/4-inch strip from 4-inch side of the triangle. Cut two 1/4-inch strips from the 4 1/2-inch side. Set the longer one aside for the tail. Attach one strip to the base of one side of the cat at the rear going forward and the other to the bottom of the other side at the rear going forward to form folded hind legs. Use the sides of your hands to press the legs to the body.
Use your shaping tool to form paws on the ends of the legs.
Shape the mountain lion's front legs by rounding the front of the body to about 2 inches from the top. Press your finger down the center of the front of the cat to show distinction between the legs. Use your shaping tool to indicate paws.
Shape the tail with the other strip. Mountain lions have powerful tails, so you don't want to make it look stringy, but have it wrap from the base of the spine around one leg.
Round the remaining triangle into a ball for the head. Don't worry if it looks small because in proportion to their bodies, mountain lions have smaller heads than other cats. Place the head on the body. Pinch up two 3/4-inch ears on the top of the head and then flatten the face a little, forming a drooping, prominent chin. Use your shaping tool to indicate round eyes, a pointy nose and small mouth.
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