Thursday, March 4, 2010

Air Drying Clay Tutorial: Raven King

I have never worked with air drying clay before (I am more of a polymer cook-it-in-the-oven fan) but when I saw the little ornaments Michelle My Belle made last year, I was inspired to try it out. ( I also bought one of hers so I could see the texture and feel how hard the clay actually was. Well, I also bought one because they were so damn cute.)

First, you need an idea, so I made a whole bunch of sketches and decided to start by making a small Raven King sculpture.

Second, you need a few basic clay carving tools, aluminum foil, wire and wire tools, and some rocks. I also had this handy little sushi serving board my friend Ann just gave me and it works great as a base!

Why on earth do you need a rock? Well, I was making a freestanding sculpture, so I wanted the base to be heavy so he wouldn't fall over. I wrapped 2 of the rocks in foil and made a basic body shape out of foil and wrapped it all in wire to hold it all together. In hind sight, I would have wrapped foil around the legs too. The more foil infrastructure you have, the less clay you have to use. This clay is pretty expensive, $10 a pack. And I used half a pack. $5 doesn't sound like much, but you can't reuse this stuff so make sure you know what you are getting into!

Once my base was done, I started adding clay. Keep the rest of your clay wrapped up because it dries out fast! Even though it takes a couple days to dry out completely, I found that after using the clay only 1 1/2 hours it was getting pretty hard to manipulate.
Sometimes I forget how much I just love to sculpt things.

The crown was a little tricky to mold since the clay was starting to get stiff. But I used a little water to help smooth it out.

It took me about 1 3/4 hours to complete him. I am pretty sure I would have finished him much sooner, but I threw The Fellowship of the Ring into the DVD player and kept getting distracted. (Yes, I know in my heart of hearts I am a geek.)

I am anxious for him to dry so I can paint him. I will show completed photos as soon as I get him done!


  1. That looks like so much fun. I always think of clay as functional -- I should try playing with it more.

  2. I am surprised to hear you say that, Ann. Your whole house is full of pretty, lovely things!

  3. You're very good at pictures of your process. I really appreciate that being a picture learner myself.

    Also, nothing like slo mo Aragon to distract a girl. There ain't nothing geeky 'bout that. *happy sigh*