Here’s 10 sculpting tips for polymer clay because sometimes you just want a head start! These sculpting tips for polymer clay are sure to make your foray into the sculpting world a great success.
There are many tips for polymer clay floating around the inter webs. [Take a moment to view my 15 Tips for Polymer Clay here.] But not all polymer clay tips apply to sculptors directly. Hopefully these basic 10 sculpting tips for polymer clay artists will help get you on your way to becoming a better sculptor!
10 Sculpting Tips for Polymer Clay Sculptors
- Choose a good quality clay. There are a lot of polymer clay’s on the market. Not all of them are good for sculpting. My favorite clay to use is Premo! by Sculpey but you can see my Top 5 Polymer Clay choices here.
- Choose good quality polymer clay tools. Just like choosing good quality clays, choosing the right tools for the right job is essential. There are literally dozens of tools to choose when it comes to sculpting. Some of my favorite tools are the tools from Christi Friesen. You can see my other favorite sculpting tools here.
- Get a good quality sculpting book to teach you the basics. There are some basics that you need to know when it comes to sculpting with polymer clay. A good sculpting book will teach you the basics of sculpting, the tools you need, and show you some tricks along the way. Here’s a list of my favorites.
- Practice, practice, practice! Unlike other forms of working with clay, people often complain that sculpting is hard. Why? Because it is. While it does come naturally to some, it (for the most part) is harder than making jewelry or component pieces. And above all else, sculpting requires you to practice time and time again. It also requires your patience! Just like Beethoven didn’t become a master pianist overnight, you likewise will NOT become a master sculptor overnight either.
- Just try it! This is a hard and fast rule in my studio. When in doubt, just try it! It’s just clay. It’s not a fancy car, designer shoes, or even an expensive home. Your brick of clay cost at most $4 … it’s okay to try things out, experiment and in the end ruin it. That’s how you will discover what aspects of sculpting you like or don’t like: fantasy, realism, anthropomorphism, relief, effigy, etc.
- Document your process. I have sounded like a broken record on this topic at times here on the site, (and even wrote an article for Polyform) but I can’t express this enough when it comes to sculpting. If you photograph your process you will always be able to duplicate a process, color palette, or piece if you need to. But if you don’t how will you ever be able to go back to your design roots. What if you create that one-of-a-kind masterpiece of facial characteristic that you love and then (gasp) can’t duplicate it?! In a cell phone era, photo documentation is simple & easy … so my friends, just do it!
- Join a Sculpting Club or Sculpting Group that will help you along your journey. The most beneficial parts of clubs & groups is that it joins a group of likeminded people. People that are likeminded join together and can offer help, community, and rewards when you begin a similar journey.
- Find Artists to Admire. With the advent of the internet, a simple search will allow you to find hundreds of artists and their work. There are lots of polymer clay sculptors whose work that I admire. Having artists work that you admire will give you a reason to keep trying, creating, and sculpting. NOT because you are copying their work (you NEVER want to do that), but there’s something about their work that inspires you. Perhaps it’s their use of color, style, line, or even something as basic as proportion! If you aren’t looking at other artists, take a moment today to do so. (Christi Friesen shown at left.)
- Share your work. Whether you share your work in a Sculpting Group, Pinterest or other form of social media don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Your work is an extension of who you are. It’s an extension of your personality. You don’t have to sell it in order to share it. Take a few moments and when you are finished with your piece, put it out there for the world to see, you never know, they just might like it!
- You don’t HAVE to bake it! Sometimes we feel like because we poured “hours” into a piece of art that now we “have” to bake it. That’s just not true. Save yourself the time and heartbreak. If you don’t like it, don’t bake it. Period. In it’s unbaked state it’s still usable clay, even as an under sculpt or armature. However, Once it’s baked it becomes nothing more than a doorjamb or trashcan fodder if you still hate it! My advice if you hate it, don’t bake it.
Thanks for joining me today,