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How to Build Clay Sculptures

Build Clay Sculptures

Things You'll Need:

  • Polymer clay
  • Aluminum foil
  • Craft wire
  • Picture or sketch of your model
  • Spoon
  • Clay sculpting tool set

How to Build Clay Sculptures. Polymer clay is a popular material for making simple sculptures. A kiln is not necessary because the clay cures quickly in a conventional oven. Anyone can build simple sculptures in the comfort of a kitchen.

Begin by building an armature, the supporting framework of your sculpture around which you will apply clay. For a small sculpture, crumple about 18 inches of aluminium foil tightly. If you are making a human form or an animal, this will represent the body from the neck down.

Cut the craft wire into strips. Stick these through the crumpled foil at the places where the form will need support. This will depend on the sculpture you are making. For instance, if you are sculpting the human form or an animal, you can use these strips of wire as the appendages.

Bend the wires to take on any required shapes. For instance, if your sculpture is of a dog, you will need to bend the wires so that they will take on the shape of a dog's legs. Use a picture or sketch of your sculpture as a guide.

Make a decision on whether to cover the wires with foil or not. This will depend on what you are sculpting. If you are sculpting an animal which has thick, furry legs, then you will need to pad the wires with foil to achieve that effect.

Cut a chunk of clay from the block. Knead the clay until it is pliable and then begin to cover the foil with it. The foil should be completely hidden.

Add the head. Crumple a small amount of foil into a ball big enough for the head of your subject and stick it to the shoulder of the armature. Cover it with clay.

Knead more clay and begin padding the figure. At this point, pay attention to the special areas and unique features of your sculpture and apply the clay accordingly. Use your fingers or the back of a spoon to make the clay smooth.

Add features to your sculpture. Use your clay sculpting tools to create and shape facial features and add other fine details.

Put the feet on last. This will prevent them from getting squashed while you work on other parts of the sculpture.

Bake your sculpture. Small sculptures made with most brands of polymer clay will cure in a conventional oven at 275 degrees for about 30 minutes.


Be sure to examine your sculpture from all angles as you build it so that you apply the clay evenly.

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