Some sculpting tips for beginners…

If you have begun sculpting, but are a bit frustrated, don’t give up!  Many times it’s not the sculptor’s skill that is at fault, sometimes it’s the type of clay and temperature of the clay.  Do you find that you are messing up details as you are sculpting?  Sometimes if the clay gets too warm from being worked with, it is so easy to mess up previous work or cause the features to distort.  Putting the clay down for 10 minutes or so helps it to cool down and you can begin again.  This is also helpful because walking away and coming back gives you fresh eyes and you can see better what you still need to do or perhaps change.

Different types of clay are softer than others.  Soft clay is good for small details, but too soft clay makes it hard to keep any features from distorting.  I like mixing clays, both for consistency and for color.  I like Super Sculpey mixed with a light shade of Fimo. You can fiddle with the amounts of each to get the shade and firmness you want.  I mix by hand but you can use a pasta machine dedicated to clay.  After you have mixed you need to let it cool.

I like to keep facial references up to look at while I sculpt.  Even the best artists need to look at something.  I take ads out of magazines, or use children photos as well.  This doesn’t mean you have to sculpt exactly what you are looking at, you can use it as a starting point.

Next consider your tools.  I use some sculpting tools but I use two size needles, a toothpick and two different size crochet hooks as tools every time I sculpt.  You can see what works for you.  Kemper makes some great tools as well as Kato and there are generic sets at hobby stores for very cheap.  If you are not near a hobby store, one of my favorite places to get tools and supplies is  The lady who owns it is sweet as cab be and ships quickly.  She also offers a wide range of sculpting tutorials, books and DVDs.  Tell Karen that Liz sent ya!

A word about molds.  I don’t have anything against them, only artists who use them and say they don’t.  If you decide to use a mold, just be open and say so, it still requires a lot of work to create a doll using molds.  But one warning, some artists promote the use of molds as teaching aids.  I don’t.  I feel if you start to use a mold instead of learning how to sculpt yourself, you will always need the mold. If making one of a kind dolls is important to you, than I would avoid them.

Above all, have fun!  Allow yourself to learn and give yourself enough time to get better.  Don’t give up.  I have been sculpting for 8 years now, and I am still learning new techniques!  I always tell people, you would never sit down at a piano, having never played, and expect to play like Mozart, would you?  It’s the same with clay, practice a bit each day.

Happy Creating & Bright Faerie Blessings!
Liz Amend

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