If you’re new to learning how to sculpt, check out the other clay art courses before attempting this ceramics class. These projects share ceramic sculpture ideas that help you learn to sculpt clay and are more friendly to beginners. However, if you have experience with clay, this class will show you every dirty detail from start to finish on how to sculpt clay! STUDY GUIDES: Click to open these guides in a new tab:
- How To Sculpt Clay has a LOT of information and links to help you get started with clay, and a timeline for the sculpture process
- How To Paint Clay and other Finishes has ideas and techniques for finishing your ceramic sculpture
See the finished clay sculpture – “Wandering Soul“
Learning how to sculpt from start to finish:
In this art class, I walk you through the entire process from building the armature, to firing the ceramic sculpture. I give great detail in how to avoid kiln damage, and ways of repairing kiln damage and broken parts if (when) the unavoidable happens, and then finish the class with adding a base to your sculpture. You get the whole process here, in great detail!
Clay Tutorial: Products Used In Making This Clay Sculpture:
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- The clay used was similar to this low fire white clay (my current clay). You can also use air dry clay for practice works (they won’t hold up like fired clay, but they’re a good way to get started sculpting – keep in mind that different types of clays have different tactile properties and feel).
- I have several sets of clay tools, but a great set for beginners is this Kemper Pottery Tool Set.
- The Amaco #5 Decorating Wheel is an essential part of my armature setup, but any banding wheel can be helpful.
- For fired clays, cones, shelves, kilns, and more.
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Absolutely - I've been contacted by a number of teachers who've used these online art classes in their lessons! Unfortunateley with the site locked down due to hacking and theft, printing the classes from the website isn't possible. I'm currently working on downloadable versions of my classes for this purpose - for now, please contact me and I'll get you the information you need.
Water based clays are made from clay and water; oil-based are made from oil and clay. Water based will dry out and must be kept moist until an artwork is finished, whereas oil based isn’t reliant on being covered to keep it wet and pliable. It is up to each individual artist or clay sculptor to decide which type of media they prefer, and at this time water based is by far my favorite.
Clay doesn’t have a lot of structural strength when wet. Larger pieces will deform, sag, and can completely destroy themselves from their own weight without some sort of rigid support. However, that rigid support must be removed before firing.
If you’re not planning to mold/cast the artwork, then kiln-fired water based clays really are more structurally sturdy than unfired water based clays. You can’t dry out an oil based clay. Oil based won’t vitrify like water based. While heating it can reduce pliability and viscosity, you can’t create a “finished” oil based clay sculpture.
If you're working with water-based clay, then a kiln really is essential. You can use air-dray clays, but they're not as durable as kiln-fired clays. While having your own kiln is wonderful, it's not always necessary if you live near a school or teaching studio, as many of these venues are willing to fire ceramic artworks for a small fee.
I love the texture and work-ability of water based clays. I can develop incredibly highly detailed artworks when molds and casting aren’t involved. While the finished product can be delicate, the same is said of fine porcelain – these are works of art, and not meant for utilitarian purposes, so a bit of fragility is okay when the piece should be handled delicately anyway.
Unfortunately, this is not something I can fit into my schedule at this time. Clay sculptures especially are very time consuming, and can take weeks to complete just the unfired sculpture. This is why I’ve created the demonstrations in an online format – so others can learn at their own pace.
Though I don’t give personal instruction, I’m happy to answer questions! Feel free to comment or ask questions on individual posts or contact me. I love to hear your questions, and I've modified some of my classes over the years based on artists' questions!