Thursday, July 9, 2015

Clay Panther Sculpture Demo p. 1 - Armature for a Clay Sculpture

It is recommended that if you are new to working with clay, that you check out the basics of working with clay page and the small clay demo before attempting a sculpture. These pages will explain some of the techniques that are used in this demonstration. Step 1. Putting together the armature - once this step is complete, the armature can be used for almost any type of clay sculpture. If you already have the armature built, skip this step. Click on any image to see a larger image.

clay sculpture armature, building an armature for a clay sculpture

An illustration of the armature setup. The plywood (I use different sizes for different sculptures, in this case, a 15" x 22" board) has a hole cut in the center to accommodate the metal adapter (a plumbing part which you can buy at any hardware store), which is attached with nails or screws to the bottom of the plywood. The pvc adapter is then threaded into the metal adapter through the hole in the plywood base. A decorating wheel is then attached, upside down, over the bottom of the metal adapter.

building a clay sculpture armature that turns, building a turning clay sculpture armature
The base of the decorating wheel should completely cover the metal adapter and fit tight against the plywood base. Nail it down to the plywood securely. I used an Amaco No. 5 Decorating Wheel, because it attaches perfectly to this setup.

building a clay sculpture armature that turns, building a turning clay sculpture armature
Place the top portion of the wheel onto the shaft of the bottom section. When you turn the armature over, it will now spin freely so that you can work on your sculpture from any angle.

how to build a clay sculpture armature, build a pvc armature for clay sculpture
A close-up of the male adapter threaded through the armature opening into the metal adapter below.

how to build a clay sculpture armature, build a pvc armature for clay sculpture
When the armature is finished, sections of 1" pipe cut to fit the size of the sculpture will be used for the main support of the clay. For ease of use, cut sections and have them ready for when you need to use them (my standard sizes are 9", 10.5", 12", 13.5", and 15" - the 9" is the size I will use for this demo).
*Note - this process of sculpting leaves some newspaper in the sculpture body for firing (on larger horse head sculptures, for example, the bottom opening is large enough so you can remove most of the newspaper. On figure sculptures, however, there is a greater chance of destroying the sculpture than there is of removing the newspaper with the sculpture intact). The newspaper creates a reduction environment in the kiln, meaning reduced oxygen. If you are going to fire glazes, do not fire them with a sculpture that has newspaper, because it will alter/ruin some glaze colors. Also, if you are firing in an electric kiln, reduction environments can reduce the life of the elements in your kiln. The damage to the metal kiln parts can be somewhat alleviated by leaving the top peep hole open during the entire firing process. Removing as much newspaper as possible will also help alleviate some of the potential damage to the elements. Even though the life of the elements may be reduced, you will still get a good number of firings from the elements (if you take the precautions above, you may not even notice a reduced life span of the elements).

Page 1 - Armature      |      Page 2 - Sculpting      |     Page 3 - Finishing Touches
Page 4 - Unfired      |     Page 5 - Firing      |     Page 6 - Build Base

About the Artist:

horse artist, equine artist, PSSM horse
Since starting my art business in 2004, I have been on a roller coaster ride that's taken me from art, to house flipping, to legal assistant, to horse trainer, and a full 180* back to my artworks.

I'm thankful to get back to my art, and also for the life experiences I've gained.

Things in life that matter the most!  Jen, husband Jared, and Jax

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