Techniques of Clay Modeling for a Beginner

Clay is soft and pliable to the extent that it can be easily fashioned into different forms. There are various techniques for making clay models depending on the size and style to even the dexterity of the artist.

There is art and then there is three-dimensional art! There is something about the latter that appeals to the senses and draws the soul. Creating a three-dimensional figure with your own hands can be deeply satisfying and enriching as well.

And when it comes to three-dimensional crafts, things cannot get more simpler than clay modeling! Clay is an extremely malleable material that can be molded in different ways to create functional or decorative items. Just playing around with clay is enough to unleash the latent creativity even while keeping the mind engaged and productive.

In general, clay in any form can be sculpted. However, professional artists prefer plasticine clay as it is oil-based and non-drying. This is best for making molds as well. Pottery and self-hardening clays are also commonly used for ceramics and other sculptures.

Sculpting techniques

Simply put, clay figures are fashioned mostly with the thumb and forefinger; intricate pieces involve the use of the full palm as well. The three major forms are slabs, coils and pinch pots that are then used to make the desired piece from the clay. It takes a lot of kneading, squeezing, pulling, pinching and rolling to conjure up varied forms and shapes from clay. The clay will have to be smoothed at various junctures and separate pieces may have to be joined together as well.

These small and delicate models can be gently created by hand itself. The potter’s wheel is a famous instrument for making pots and pans. However, it lends itself well for fashioning elaborate and tricky shapes as well. The pieces are generally glazed and baked in ovens or kilns to give them a better finish along with durability.

When it comes to bigger sculptures, the artist will have to create an armature to provide structure and support to the figure. This is like an internal skeleton that helps in building the clay model which may otherwise collapse under its own weight. It can be made with bent wires or better still, aluminum.

Apart from fingers and hands, clay modeling artists use different types of carving tools to create details in the sculpture. It is a series of rolling, pinching, carving, smoothing and joining that will slowly shape up the sculpture. Scoring is also a crucial step when joining any two pieces of clay; without this the parts are likely to crack or fall apart while drying.

Irrespective of the technique, the clay model should always be allowed to dry completely before use.

Where to buy?

EnvironMolds offers a broad selection of different types of top-quality clay to serve diverse purposes. It also stocks ballistic clay and gel blocks which is suitable for testing body armor and other terminal ballistic testing.

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