As a beginner in the art of sculpting, you won’t find a better substitute for clay to sculpt your artwork. Clay is easy to mould and carve and takes any form you want it to take without creating much of a mayhem on your sculpting table. Who likes flying pieces of stone in their eyes as they chisel off their stone sculptures after all?
Yes, no one. And that is why if you are a newbie and want to play it safe before you get to hard-core sculpting with stone or wood, clay is your one go-to option to experiment on and learn from.
This article aims at familiarizing the readers with some of the basic clay sculpture techniques and shows how to make a sculpture out of clay if you are a newbie.
So, if you desire to ascertain some essential tricks on how to make a clay sculpture of a human figure then let's discuss some basic steps needed for sculpting your artwork.
6 Basic Steps on How to Make a Sculpture Out of Clay
1. Know the basics
Before you start to work, know that there are several types of clay that are used for sculpting and crafting figures. The oil-based clay is smooth and should not be used for a detail-oriented sculpture. However, the soft texture of this clay makes it ideal for moulding and practicing purposes.
The polymer-based clay on the other hand, while being soft is also baking friendly in a routine oven to fix the craft. One con of baking the polymer-based clay can be the cracks that appear in the composition if it is baked for long.
The pottery or firing clay is another variant and is very baking-friendly. This is the clay that is mainly used for pottery and ceramic making. Depending on the kind of sculpture you are going to make, choose a variant that suits your needs. Like, if you are going to craft a human figure, the polymer-based clay might be the right option for you. If on the other hand, your aim is to come up with some pottery sculpture, you might as well go for the potter’s clay.
2. Form a Basic Vision of the Sculpture
3-D art is all about imagination. If you imagine it right, you can sculpt it right. If possible, sketch a basic version of how you want your final piece to turn out to be. Since the sketch would be two-dimensional, while your sculpture is a three-dimensional piece, it will be good to prepare sketches of the envisioned sculpture from different points of projections. Once you are done with these rough sketches, you can use them as a reference for sculpting.
3. Check the Wetness of Clay
Dry clay can be difficult to mould and can develop cracks easily. It is thus always advised to check the degree of wetness of clay. One way to check it is take some of it and roll it in your hands to form a cylinder of about 1cm in diameter and 10cm long. Try bending it. If it bends without forming a crack, your clay is okay. Add some more water if a crack appears.
4. Use your hands to Mould Clay
More tools you use to mould your clay, more are the chances of damage. Use your fingers and hands instead. Try to be clever while moulding and shaping your sculpture. Use your thumbs to create depressions in your composition. Pinch the clay to create crests and then smoothen them with your fingers.
Use structures that will be more durable. Like instead of raising a boundary from a layer of clay, stack rings of clay one upon another and then smooth them out. That way the structure will be more balanced and less vulnerable to a collapse.
5. Avoid Risky Shapes
While crafting human figures, you might want to sculpt a really long arm or long legs but this can be dangerous for the stability of your sculpture and increase the chances of these parts of your craft falling off from the main body. It is always advisable to stick more with confined, contained shapes capable of supporting their own weight.
If however, you will not like to settle for a compromise with your artistic vision, you should use a base material to support the clay work beneath such protruding structures. For arms and legs, you can use an aluminium rod or a brass one to support the weight of their structure and then sculpt and mould your clay work over the base material.
6. Take Lessons if Needed and Keep Learning
While most of the learning of the art comes from observation and experience, you should consider joining an online tutorial or an offline one at some local studio to get better. The trick to getting better lies in not settling and keep learning new things. You can always observe and study the work of artists on e-stores like ShowFlipper that sell sculptures online to learn the intricacies of the art.
If you ever browsed the online sculpture gallery at any of the e-stores like ShowFlipper that sell sculptures online, you would be familiar with the variants of sculptures that clay offers to the artists. And while easy to carve, these sculptures till require a lot of patience and hard work on the artist’s part.
whether you just desire to get familiar with sculptures or want to turn wood logs into wood sculpture, Observe, learn, and evolve your art. Keep repeating this cycle and your skills will scale up with time. Try following the above-mentioned tips and let us know how things worked out for you. All the best!