How to Make a Clay Octopus

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Because clay modelers or sculptors usually harden their clay in the air or kiln, you must craft your sculptures with this process in mind. After spending one hour or 10 hours on a sculpture, to have your artwork crack or break because you did not consider the firing process can lead to frustration. Additionally, when sculpting, you must take into consideration the weight of arms or appendages. An octopus, for example, has eight appendages, so you must sculpt it knowing that narrow appendages can break under normal wear and tear. Correctly planning your artwork will ensure you can enjoy it for years to come.

Things You'll Need

  • Sculpting knife
  • Spoon
  • Roll clay between your palms until you have a ball that matches the size you want for your octopus head.

  • Cut the ball (head) in half using the sculpting knife.

  • Scoop out the inside of each clay hemisphere using a sculpting knife, leaving a 1/2-inch thick wall for every 4 to 6 inches in height of the octopus head. For instance, a 10-inch tall octopus should have approximately 1-inch thick clay to keep it from collapsing. A rough inside makes no difference in the hardening process.

  • Press the two halves together into a ball again, so they create a seam.

  • Smudge the seam together using excess clay and smooth it until you can no longer see it. This may take multiple tries, as you might squash the head.

  • Roll a second ball of clay between your palms equal in mass to the one used to create the head.

  • Flatten the ball using a rolling pin to a thickness equal to the octopus' head thickness. For instance, if you have a 1-inch-thick octopus head, your flattened ball should be 1 inch thick.

  • Set the octopus head in the center of the flattened ball.

  • Sketch the octopus "arms" out of the flattened ball using the sculpting knife, ensuring that the center mass of the octopus measures 1 inch to 2 inches wider in circumference than the head and that the arms remain of equal width around this center mass. Thin arms can potentially break.

  • Shape the arms to your personal preference using the sculpting knife. Keep the arms short and squat because long slender arms will break as the clay constricts during the drying process.

  • Roll a 1/2-inch rope of clay between your hands.

  • Wrap the rope of clay around the head and the body mass.

  • Smooth the rope against the octopus head and body mass using the spoon, connecting the two. Think of the rope as a welding rod and the spoon the tool you use to weld the head to the body mass.

References

  • Modeling Clay Animals; Bernadette Cuxart; 2010
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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