Working With Clay

So. Some of RPGC is artistically minded. Me, I have ideas. Never really practiced it all that much. Well this summer, I’m going to be stuck at home. Therefore, during my free time when I’m not doing various other things (read: prepare for next summer, law review write-on, hit up some old friends/girls), I was thinking of working with clay. Something caught my eye, and I want to give a whirl at attempting it myself. Trill and Ez know what I’m talking about, and if they know what’s good for them, they won’t say anything. (>:E)

Now I know the best experience is practice. Fuck around and discover to see how to do things yourself. It’s not pottery clay. More of modeliing clay, like you can carve stuff out of. To then make molds of. To put plaster in. (>.>)

See those tools? I sorta remember a few of them from middle school, and others I can guess what their function would be. However, the dull metal one and the wooden one in the top left: how are they generally used? And do any clay workers have general hints on working with clay (or rather, an oil-based modeling compound)>

I’ll ask my sculptor friend; maybe she’d know.

They are used to make intimidating lifelike clay statues in threatening poses. :cool:

From what I remember, the bladed ones (wood and metal) serve the same purpose for making lines and running the flat edge along to smooth parts together. The long pointy parts are for carving holes and making dotted details. I never was more than a 5 out of 14 for my sculpting skill mind you (going by poker numbers with Jack being the not quite master at 12).

I do remember some of the more talented people would use water selectively to moisten and soften certain areas but it was beyond my skill to not make a sloppy mess from that.

Ah clay. I remember taking ceramics a couple years ago.

So you are interested in modelling/figurative, not functional pottery right? Because those two require very different skills. Modelling isn’t too bad as long as you have patience. I would suggest you get timing down as that is the most important requirement for making something worth your time. Clay is very finicky and can be ultimately frustrating if you don’t get your timing down. So my first bit of advice is make you sure understand your clay… how long it takes to dry, how wet it is, how thick or thin it is, and more. These are very important elements to understand.

Second is to make sure you have some good concept sketches down before you make anything, and then play around with the clay to make small maquettes to see if what you are planning to make is do-able. If you don’t have any ideas in mind right now and just want to jump to it, then things will be very slow and most likely difficult for you. At least, for a beginner. Once you get accustomed to the skills you can probably improv a lot better as you go.

As for your tools, a lot of what you have seems to be tools used for making small details, which is excellent for modelling. Those dentist-like metal ones are good for mimicing pencils. You can use them to draw along making indented shapes… I don’t know if that’s a good description. Basically they can be line tools, or you can use them to make small holes. Mostly for details. The wooden rod with the loop on the end is a shaving tool. You use that for shaving off excess clay and slimming down your figure. The big grey thing with flat ends is used for smoothing out the clay. When you have a rough spot that looks a bit ugly you would use this to smooth it over and compress the clay. You can also use a wet paper towel for this.

I recommend two other tools for clay work in terms of modelling:

Something like this, that would act as a smoothing tool or shaper. It is basically like a paint brush with a piece of rubber where the brush usually goes. You can find them at any art store that has a ceramics section. The rubber end is excellent because it allows flexibility, thus it will bend along the form of your model as opposed to cutting into it like a metal or wooden one.

You’ll need this too. This is essential for doing any work with clay. It is a clay cutter, used for… guess what, cutting clay. It makes cutting off pieces of clay easy. I’d recommend a nylon one as the metal ones can get kind of sharp and scary sometimes.

And to end this, I’ll post a picture of what I’ve done with clay. I got a pretty good mark for this project:

Sounds cool, but why not take a class at your local community, or some other institute nearby? It’ll keep you actually doing it instead of possibly puttering out, and its a nice way to meet people.

Why not take it as a class? Because I will have plenty of other stuff on my plate. This would be more of a thing to putter around with on my own free time.

And Gila, does it matter if it’s not actually clay but more of an oil-based modeling medium? Like, that is much less prone to drying out, correct?

Clay pidgeons