How to Make Clay Models

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Clay model of a man playing bass.
Clay model of a man playing bass. (Image: sxc.hu/pikselia)

Making clay models is an easy and inexpensive hobby for kids or adults. The resulting models can be used in clay animation (claymation), or simply for entertainment value. Make clay models of yourself, your friends, your enemies, your pets, or your family using the simple method outlined in this tutorial.

Things You'll Need

  • Modeling clay in various colors
  • Moderately stiff wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Aluminum foil

Cut lengths of wire using the wire cutters. Use the wire to create a rough shape of your model. This can be a human, animal or inanimate object. The shape does not need to be perfect. It is simply an outline for your model.

Wad the aluminum foil into balls or similar shapes. Attach to the wire as additional support for large parts of the model. This can be used for heads, limbs or even a torso. The clay will be placed over the wire and aluminum foil, so don't spend too much time trying to make it perfect.

Place the clay around the rough outline you've created for your model. Use one neutral color, as this will be the base coat.

Smooth the clay over the wire and foil so that they are no longer visible. Sculpt any defining features such as eyes, mouth, and fingers.

Use colored clay to create features such as clothing, fur, or patterns, depending on what type of clay models you are making. Apply the colored clay directly over the base coat. Then mold, sculpt and smooth these features until you are happy with the result.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use pliable modeling clay of a high quality that does not harden. Homemade clay works well for this project, but make sure it is moist and won't dry out.
  • Use props such as doll clothing and accessories, or make your own from clay in the same manner described above.
  • Use caution with the wire and wire cutters. If they are not used properly, they can cause injury. Be sure you know what you are doing, or enlist the help of someone who does.

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