What Kind of Clay Is Used?
Although water-based clay is a much loved, traditional sculpture medium, I prefer oil-based clay for professional work because it does not dry out and crack, and it keeps its workable consistency over a wide range of temperatures. Oil-based clay is also ideal if you plan to make a mold on your sculpture (for later casting in plaster, resin, or bronze) because it will need to be cut up into sections for mold making. The clay brand I especially like is made by Chavant.com, and specifically, I like their “Clayette” clay because it is great for both professional and student sculptors. Visit Chavant.com to learn more about fine art sculpture clay such as Clayette. I purchased my Clayette from SculptureDepot.net.
- Our preferred clay is Clayette by Chavant. It is oil-based, sulfur-free, and non-toxic.
- You can find oil-based clay in soft, medium, and hard consistencies.
- Chavant Clayette hard clay is very firm at room temperature. This makes it great for carving fine details.
- Warming the clay makes it very pliable (for example, wrap clay in aluminum foil and place in a covered crockpot set to “warm” or on top of a covered heating pad as you work.)
- Rubber gloves are good to protect your hands when the clay is very warm, especially when you’re first building up your clay form.
- Chavant hard clay usually does not require any armature because it is so strong. But if you need armature, this clay does not contain sulfur and will not react with metal armature.
Find tools for modeling clay at https://www.sculpturedepot.net/
We also use rifflers to smooth the clay surface:
Gesswein Diesinker’s Riffler Assorted Set
Gesswein Hook and Curve Riffler
Round hook, $12.90
Round curve, $12.90
Find the metal turntable we use for making a sculpture base here:
Inexpensive riffler set for smoothing hard oil-based clay:
Richeson armature wire:
Another good resource for mold making supplies:
Bas Relief Concept: Moorish Idols, by Vicky Oldham © 2021. Download for students to learn bas relief sculpture technique.