Modelling Clay For the Beginner

Modelling clay – its fun for all ages, it’s not (too) messy, and it can really let you unleash your creative side. Plus, some clay can be set – allowing your works of art to last for years. Read up on what clay will suite you, before taking on this amazing hobby.

Before you start your new hobby – you should decide on what type of modelling clay you are going to use. There are many types of clay. Ranging from the cheapest oil-based but incredibly fun Plasticine and its many copies, to the more expensive but obviously more advanced polymer clays. Need help on which to choose? Continue reading…

Oil based clay – These clays are perfect for children, as they are cheap, available in a massive range of colors, and some brands are specifically designed for kids, meaning they are non-toxic, and do not stain clothing. Oil based clays are not only limited to the use of children however, very advanced models can be created. Oil based clays do lack one big advantaged to certain clays however – and that is they cannot be set or fired. This means the models are changeable even years later – perfect for animators!

Polymer clay – there are many brands of polymer Mica Powder clay (Sculpey, Fimo, Premo, Kato Polyclay, Cernit, Formello, Madello, Das) – and each brand has 10’s of products, and 100’s of colors. Air dry clay, as the name suggests gives you a set length of time to work and create your model, then it sets hard. Allowing you to sand, cut, drill your model, exactly how you want. Oven dry clay (the more popular), the clay remains soft until it is baked in a home oven. Once set you can also drill/cut/sand the finished piece, making a perfect design. Note that this clay cannot be used for “usable” items, such as plates, ash trays, food containers, etc. It is also not recommended for children, and care should be taken when baking the clay hard.

Firing Clay / Kiln Clay – these types of clay are typically out of reach of the home hobbyist. They require a way of firing the clay to very high temperatures in a Kiln. The finished models are the same material as the ceramic dishware you use at home.

As you can probably tell – the type of clay you will eventually decide to use, will vary depending on what you want to do with the completed model. If you want to animate the design, move it or pose it – oil based clay is best. If you want to create a solid sellable work of art – polymer clay is your choice. If you want to create works that can be used as functional items, such as ash trays, plates, etc – then you will need firing clay.


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