Basic Tools for Clay Sculpting

Basic Tools for Clay Sculpting

If you’re thinking of trying sculpting for the first time, most sculptors will tell you to begin with the easiest and cheapest material to work with—clay.

Here are some of the basic tools you will need to start clay sculpting.

Basic Items for Clay Sculpting

You will not need professional-grade tools while you’re still learning, although they are a good long-term investment. You can also create most of these items from recycled wood, plastic and metal materials by shaping them to suit your needs. You can buy clay sculpting sets at craft shops, but you will need to assemble makeshift tools for creating textures, holes, and designs. Find only the materials you can afford and know how to use, such as the following:

  • Modeling materials
  • Small and medium modeling spatula
  • Wooden modeling tools
  • Cuticle tool
  • Needle on a stick
  • Non-stick rolling pin
  • Cutting wheel
  • Tracing wheel
  • Tapered cone

  • Pointed tools (for making holes)
  • Ball tool (for hollow spaces)
  • Scissors
  • Texture tools
  • Loops or wire tools
  • Calipers
  • Artist’s brushes and paint
  • Knives
  • Wires for armatures
  • Modeling stand
  • Study casts
  • Board for armatures

Some art shops in Singapore sell different sets of clay tools and pottery tools for reasonable prices.

Types of Clay for Sculpting

There are different types of clay you can work with, but most of them are classified into families depending on the combination of the clay minerals, wax, and oil.

  1. Oil-Based – This type cannot be fired, but can be melted, heated, and poured. The clay remains malleable because the oil will not evaporate and is non-water soluble.
  2. Water-BasedThis is a slow-drying type and must be kept moist. Like oil-based clays, it cannot be fired and is mostly used for fast sculpting.
  3. Polymer – This can be cured and hardened, but will not shrink because its ingredients are based on polymer polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
  4. Dough – This clay is usually recommended for children and can sometimes be edible. It’s cheap, reusable, and can be made at home using oil, water, flour, cornstarch, and cream of tartar.

  1. PaperAlso called fiberclay, this is a type of clay which includes processed cellulose fiber that result in lightweight items that don’t shrink. You can work with this material easily, because it enables both wet-to-dry and dry-to-dry joins.
  2. Ceramic – This type of clay can be fired and is available in ready-to-use forms in art shops. Ceramic clays are classified into the following five classes:
  • Earthenware – This contains minerals and other impurities which help create hard materials.
  • Stoneware – You can create different colors by using firing techniques on this plastic-based clay.
  • Ball – Although prone to shrinkage, ball clays are usually added to other types of clay to increase plasticity.
  • Fire – This clay can withstand firing temperatures of up to 2696°
  • Kaolin – Considered free of minerals, this type of clay is ideal for creating porcelain.