Art: Selecting the right material: clay, wax, other?
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  1. #1
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    Selecting the right material: clay, wax, other?

    Or perhaps I just need better technique!

    I have a commercial plan, to work either as a specialist inside an existing business or to build one of my own, but first I must practice. I want to cast copies of quite small but ornate sculptures, using silicone. I have researched the difficulties of my scale, and it seems there are silicone types which can be painted on the clay to catch the fine details before the rest is poured over.

    I have been using Sculpey (III mixed with a little Super), which I love. It's great to be able to add clay and I love being able to nudge it around with the tools until it's just right. This is ideal for making human faces and many other organic shapes.

    Previously, I had only carved pumpkins which is of course a subtractive process, but there are things I miss about that. I loved being able to slice away pieces easily but when I try that with Sculpey or epoxy putty, the craft knife becomes a little clumsy; it pulls the clay and reshapes as it cuts, and I can't find a sharp enough blade to prevent that.

    For an example of some of the things I'm trying to do, here are some of the pumpkins I made last year. I want to do these roses, but at a very small size (about the size of a coin):



    Obviously I'd have to modify my technique and make careful use of verticals to avoid my carving getting trapped in the mould. For this reason, I've rejected the idea of building my roses petal by petal because I don't think I'll be able to govern those vertical planes. Baked Sculpey seems to react well to sanding, but doesn't carve well. Do you have to partially bake the clay in order to make the kind of cuts I'm after?

    Failing that, what else would you recommend? Casteline's wax-like qualities look like a good bet as a material I can use with both additive and subtractive techniques can any Casteline users confirm this?

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  2. #2
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    Super Sculpey all the way

    First of all, really love those carvings!


    Just going off what you've written, I'd say stick with the Super Sculpey, ease off the sculpey III. I know what you mean about the clay pulling when you try and cut it. You can avoid this completely by using a surgeons scalpel. A hobby craft knife isn't as good. A real scalpey will cut through sculpey like butter and leave the surrounding area unaffected.

    You need to go to specialist shops to buy scalpels but they are easy to order online. I get mine online.

    Another suggestion would be to move from Super Sculpey to Sculpey Firm. This is as the name suggests, a little firmer and may be more suitable for your carving technique. It comes in gray rather than pink and it's actually easier to sculpt with as far as lighting goes, the gray colour catches the shadows better.

    Personally I prefer Super Sculpey and while I do cut the clay, I more often rake it, raking gives you a lot of control over removing clay. More so than with a knife. You might want to give that a go. These rakes/loop tools are easy to find in any hobby store.

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  4. #3
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    Thank you Techyfox, that's very useful!

    If you want to see more of my pumpkins, all of last year's work is in this post:

    http://chapmanlinks.wordpress.com/20...ures-for-2010/

    Any Casteline enthusiasts want to weigh in about the strengths of that?

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