Art can be expressed in many ways and in various ways, there are those who with a blank canvas and paint, can amaze you with their creations. And there are even those that can make you art with other elements. Even music itself is a way of expressing art… However, there is one that can amaze us as much as those mentioned, it is modeling clay. Whether from the making of vases and cups, to the creation of figures. Whatever the object to model, it is possible to do it with clay.
However, this is not a simple process, not everyone will be able to make sculptures with this material. Well, doing them involves a whole learning process and above all, practice… Lots of practice. Especially depending on the level of complexity you want to achieve, as there are various techniques that must be mastered first.
In this article we will discuss everything you need to know to start making sculptures with clay. We ask you to pay attention to these basic tips, as they will be essential in your initial learning process.
What clay is used for sculpting?
Let’s start by knowing the most fundamental, what type of clay should we use? Well, in case you don’t know, there are different types of clay, each with its own handling and differentiating characteristics. Knowing them and understanding their handling and finishing can favor the type of creations that you intend to make with clay. Next, we list and describe the most used:
- Ceramic or firing clay. This is a type of water-based clay, which can be modeled in a simple way, but has the characteristic of being able to be fired at temperatures that exceed 120°C. The objective of this firing is to keep the sculpture firm, although it must be said that it is mainly used to create ceramics and vases.
- Oil-based modeling clay. This is a type of clay that, at first glance, appears to be unrefined, making it a poor choice if you are looking for detailed work. However, it remains smooth enough to practice.
- Polymer-based modeling clay. This can be considered a midpoint between the two previously mentioned. Well, it maintains the softness and low cost of oil-based clay, and has the characteristic of being able to fix a position if it is placed in an oven (It can be a domestic oven).
Which is the best for sculpting?
It is at least interesting to know what the existing types of clay are, however the following question may have arisen… Of the three mentioned, which is the best clay to sculpt at home? The answer to this question is clear: water-based clay is the best option for both beginners and experts. It is by far the easiest to manipulate, and with which it is possible to create all kinds of figures, in addition to favoring manual construction techniques.
How to start sculpting?
Obviously getting used to working in three dimensions is complex. However, it is all a matter of adapting and practicing. Here are a few tips to help you in the learning process:
- Project what you are looking for. We must form a clear idea of what we will do. It is advisable to take paper and pencil and try to draw on it the figure that we will make. Of course, let’s draw the same figure from different planes, that will serve as a guide when modeling. It is also advisable to write down the dimensions of each shape and the relationships between the lengths.
- Moisten the clay well. Assuming you follow our recommendation, you will be using the water-based clay. So in that case we recommend moistening well. Dry clay is very difficult to work with, not to mention that it can affect the quality of the final work, making them prone to cracking when fired. Moisten enough and knead before modeling.
- Create skeletons before modeling. Surely you have seen advanced sculptors make complex figures and poses that seem impossible. More considering how soft and soft the clay is prior to firing. That’s because these sculptors use a skeleton to give the modeling shape and rigidity. You can make these skeletons out of wire and aluminum.