Learning to sculpt, what materials to get?
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    Learning to sculpt, what materials to get?

    If you have any experience sculpting, what type of medium do you use to sculpt? I am trying to learn what materials to get before I start sculpting. I am mostly making them as models for drawing and painting purposes. Also is there like a good brand of clay and a bad brand of clay like they have with paints? What are the general type of materials I would get?

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    Hello Vay! I progressed early into sculpture and my final exhibit at uni was in resin casts which I found I was good at working with. Initially we were taught to think in terms of a concept rather than any particular medium, but since you already know what you want to make we can skip that. Are you wanting to make figurines, busts, etc? If so, clay, latex and plaster will be really good early starters for you

    Das is a very good brand of air drying clay, I've used it many times myself and you can get masses of it for not a lot of money. I prefer terracotta to grey, but it stains like a mofo so wear gloves and overalls or something. It has nylon thread in it too and sometimes these spring up after the sculpture has dried, but I like to massage a little vaseline or something into it and it gives the clay a nice glossy finish and seals up the pores as well as acting like a release agent.

    Learning to cast clay sculpts in latex and plaster is a really good, useful skill to have because clay can be cumbersome and fragile to care for when you don't have a gas kiln for firing. Plus, plaster has a much nicer finish for models anyway!

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    Have you considered Super Sculpey? Much more starter friendly than real clay as it doesn't harden on it's own so you can re-use it pretty well or make the same mess.

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    I would look for any kind of "oil-based clay". The brand I'm familiar with is Plasticine and it's very nice to work with. This kind of clay will never harden, so you can work on it indefinitely (but since it will never harden, don't use it if you want to make "finished" sculptures - use it just for practicing and trying out concepts). And unlike Scupley or Fimo (clays that stay soft until you bake them in the oven) oil-based clays like Plasticine are extremely inexpensive. Great and fun to learn with.

    As for tools, when you're first starting just use your hands and stuff around your house. You'd be amazed what you can get out of a fork, butter/plastic knives or the sharp end of a pencil. Once you use those for a while you'll know what kind of tools you'll need to get the effect you want, if you need to buy some from stores.

    Good luck and don't forget to post your creations. (:

    Last edited by landylachs; November 1st, 2011 at 05:42 PM. Reason: added brand name for oil clay
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    Quote Originally Posted by TinyBird View Post
    Have you considered Super Sculpey? Much more starter friendly than real clay as it doesn't harden on it's own so you can re-use it pretty well or make the same mess.
    Thanks, for those interested, here is a video of a guy with a super sculpey sculpture:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TapWK...eature=related

    The person said he used super sculpey and sculpey firm. I guess I will buy both. Blick's website said sculpey firm is for finer details.

    Quote Originally Posted by landylachs View Post
    Good luck and don't forget to post your creations. (:
    Yes, I will try to post it once I finish making something. I will be sculpting a horse from my Ellenberger's anatomy book



    That reminds me, don't I need some wires? Is it okay to use wires on your first sculpture, for a non-permanent clay?

    Last edited by Vay; November 1st, 2011 at 10:52 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vay View Post
    That reminds me, don't I need some wires? Is it okay to use wires on your first sculpture, for a non-permanent clay?
    Oh yes, I forgot to add that. Yes, definitely pick up some armature wire for your oil-clay pieces!

    Have fun and experiment.

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    Anyway, here it is, my first sculpture. I am still working on it. For some reason my lungs feel chalky being near sculpey. I had a hard time putting in the details because sculpey was too soft. I couldn't find the firm version, but I also bought Roma Plastillina 2, which should be firmer. I couldn't find the plasticine.

    Now I need a stand. What do you use for a sculpture stand? Do you just leave them on your desk? Right now as you can see, I am using the remaining clay as a stand.

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    Last edited by Vay; November 4th, 2011 at 10:00 PM.
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    Hey, great start!

    It's usually better to mount the armature wire into a wooden base before working (multi-layered plywood is good, the multiple layers will grip stuff better than a single chunk of wood) and get a lazy susan or something so you can turn the thing around as you work.

    At this point, you can try and leave some armature wire sticking out from the back legs, loop the excess wire around in a loop and staple the loops onto a wooden board using a staple gun. I don't see any excess wire you can use from the front legs, but the pose of the horse does not look too unstable that it couldn't be attached just by the back legs alone.

    It's always good to plan the armature first and plan also where you're going to attach it into the wood before actually sculpting

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    lol, I just realized there is a sculpture section. Anyway, I checked it out and it is mostly filled with finished work. So I guess this can be here for the learning of it.

    I finished sculpting the four legs of the horse, but it can't stand straight, so I scrapped it and started the framing before I start to sculpt. The stupid thing I did is that I didn't use any filler, so I made the entire horse out of clay, which attributed to it not standing straight.

    What kind of filler is good? I see people use tin foil-like filler and newspaper fillers, what is the difference? OR do they use both, in that they use the newspaper for the inside and the tin foil are wrapped around the newspaper.

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    Last edited by Vay; November 6th, 2011 at 10:02 PM.
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    Tin foil is used because it won't move too much when scrunched up and will not be affected by olis and moistures in the sculpting material.

    Wax is a good material to use if you are thinking of making castings BTW.

    Oh, and nice work on that horse too!

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    Yes. Wax -> Metal is the way to go. Expensive and time consuming, but worth it.

    That's a nice start to the horse you've got there, I've actually been doing some horses for a while too. http://jonsunart.tumblr.com/

    And, if you want a real good artist to look at, check out Frederic Remington. His stuff is frickin good.

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    Plaster is an interesting material to use too because you can model with it, let it set, then carve into it as well - modelling and carving combined.
    Plaster is messy but great to learn the carving approach.
    If you try it - get yourself one of those flexible rubber plasterer's bowls - make cleaning up after mixing the stuff a MILLION times easier!

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    Also, if you have a dentist appointment in the near future...ask your dentist if they have any broken or old dental tools that they don't need anymore. I have done this many times over my life, I have dozens and dozens of dental tools and they are AWESOME for sculpting.

    Just tell them you are an artist and they'll be happy to help you out! They will throw them away anyway.

    -D

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dusty View Post
    Also, if you have a dentist appointment in the near future...ask your dentist if they have any broken or old dental tools that they don't need anymore. I have done this many times over my life, I have dozens and dozens of dental tools and they are AWESOME for sculpting.

    Just tell them you are an artist and they'll be happy to help you out! They will throw them away anyway.

    -D
    Wow, I have a dentist appointment tomorrow.

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    Sculpey, the firm variety, is a great way to start! I remember people recommending mixtures of the firm and the regular varieties and running them through a spaghetti press until they were well mixed.

    One thing to keep in mind -- since you are going to bake the sculpey once it's ready, you need to ensure your piece is small enough to fit in the oven. I didn't, and ended up making a cardboard-aluminum foil oven extension. In retrospect, I'm surprised it actually worked.

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