Sculpting materials can be fun
The art of sculpting uses materials that are simple
It’s a sure bet. The world’s best sculptors probably take a moment now and then to just have fun squishing wet clay—or other pliable sculpting materials. Try it yourself. Grab a cool glob of nice wet clay. Now, slowly tighten your fist. See how the clay squishes out from between your fingers?
Watch as the clay plumes into curlicues of latent artistic energy. Clay is a magical compound, capable of being transformed into a wondrous work of art—or a dinner plate. Why not experiment to find sculpting materials that appeal to you? Then, have some fun. Squish some clay. And see what magic you can make from your own choice of sculpting materials.
Clay is easy to sculpt
Natural clay is easy to sculpt. It is among the most popular of sculpting materials. Clay varieties are available that differ in ways related to consistency, color and drying ability. Some natural clay is red or brown. Other clay is gray. There also are white varieties that resemble fine porcelain.
Della Robbia is a popular type of clay that offers a beautiful brown color suitable for decorative uses. It is among the sculpting materials best suited for figurines, trays and vases. It makes great medallions and beads used in hand-made jewelry completed with craft supplies such as clasps, thongs and chains. Other mediums for such uses include home-made clay compounds.
An object sculpted of Della Robbia can be hardened by baking in a kitchen oven at a temperature of 250 degrees. The hardening time will depend upon the size of the artwork. This is one of the sculpting materials best used for items that will not be holding food or drink.
Claystone can be kept pliable
One of the important factors to consider when choosing sculpting materials is the length of time that will be needed to complete a project. Small projects such as beads or dishes or cups take little time to finish. Intricate projects, however, call for sculpting materials that can be kept moist and pliable for long periods of time.
Claystone is a commonly purchased compound that can be worked and re-worked as often as necessary to finish a project. A large bust of a Roman emperor could take months to complete—especially if an appropriate base is carved with woodworking tools. A little statue of a kitty cat might take an hour—and needs no decorative base other than the kitchen table.
Sculpting materials that stay moist—if covered with a damp cloth—for weeks or months are always pliable. That purpose is well met with Claystone, a compound that air dries hard with imperceptible shrinkage.
Plastilene clays are slightly waxy
Sometimes sculpting materials are needed that will enable the artist to render very fine sculptural details such as eyelids, eyelashes or locks of hair. The surface of some clay is too roughly textured for those needs. A slightly waxy compound is needed for such fine details. Plastilene clays are perfect for those times.
Some sculpting tools used to manipulate natural clays and plastilene clays—often called “plastilina”—are constructed with small hooks, gouges or wires that enable the clay to be moved in ways that give the artist a good deal of control. A set of sculpting tools is handy to have for working with various types of sculpting materials.
In very tiny pieces of sculpture, the removal of even a miniscule particle of clay is tantamount to scraping a boulder out of a river bed. Plastilene clays are sculpting materials that are waxy and smooth—not at all grainy or roughly textured—like boulders.
Polymer clays offer bright colors
Modern sculpting materials also include a compound that is man-made and colorful. The compound is called polymer clay. It is soft and easily molded or shaped into sculpture. The substance comes in plastic-wrapped blocks whose weights vary from a few ounces to one pound.
The benefits of polymer clay include the clay’s ability to be easily blended with other colors. Special effects can be produced. For example, long tubes of polymer clay, each in a different color, can be laid lengthwise next to each other like side-by-side strands of thick spaghetti.
The outer layers then can be gently smoothed so that the individual tubes become as one. The slicing of the tubes in a crosswise manner—as if slicing a loaf of bread—will reveal an array of colors within each sliced wheel. These little wheels can be used to make many decorative items. Polymer clay is one of the most versatile of sculpting materials available today. Try some for your next project—or start by squishing some clay. You too might create a masterpiece.