How to Make a Clay Portrait Sculpture
Skip the kiln with this creative take on figurative sculpting.
Materials and Tools:
16-gauge galvanized utility wire
polymer clay (flesh and other colors)
translucent liquid clay
heat-set oil paints
clay shaper tool
photograph of subject to be sculpted
pasta maker (optional)
heat gun (optional)
1. Shape a 5-by-7-inch sheet of foil into an egg that's slightly smaller than the size of the head to be sculpted. Cover the foil with paper tape.
3. Press eye sockets into the head.
4. Insert a skewer into the bottom of the head to serve as a handle.
6. Insert the painted pins into the eye sockets.
7. Press additional clay onto the face and sculpt it into rough forms for the eyelids, nose, lips, cheeks and ears.
9. Refine the features to make the sculpture more realistic. Add more clay to certain areas or carve out clay to enhance the facial features. Bake again at 250 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.
10. Polish the face with a nail buffer, and then paint the face.
12. On each piece of wire, measure and mark 8½ centimeters, 2½ inches and 1½ centimeter, and bend the wire at each mark.
13. Duct-tape the two wires together to create a "spine."
14. Cut another piece of wire to 8 inches, bend in half and twist.
15. Duct-tape the wire along the spine to create the neck.
16. Cut the ends of the armature skeleton so they're even.
18. Wrap foil with paper tape to help the clay stick to the armature. Position the armature to match the pose in the photo you're using.
20. Cover the entire armature with clay.
21. Sculpt the arms, attach them to the armature and bake the entire sculpture.
23. Accent the sculpture with heat-set oil paint, adding a bit of color to the face and adding details to the clothing.
24. Bake the entire sculpture at 250 degrees for 10 minutes.
25. Drill holes into the base and attach the sculpture.