In our guide today, we are looking at the best clay for sculpting, different types of clay and which one would be a suitable choice for your home crafting hobby.
Invented almost 20, 000 years ago, the western tradition of sculpting first began in Ancient Greece. But once humans realized that clay can be used to form objects by mixing it with water and then firing, the clay sculpting industry was born.
Sculpting is popular to this day and is a great method to bring your creative ideas to life. So why not try it yourself? Sculpting is a therapeutic, creative, and interesting hobby that is ideal for both adults as well as kids.
But what is the best clay for sculpting at home? The answer to this depends on many factors. To help make your sculpting experience a good one, in this article we will be focusing on different types of clay and their suitability for sculpting at the comfort of your home.
Types Of Clay
Before we go into details, let’s take a look at some of the most common types of clay that are available today. Make sure to keep them in mind to help with your selection later on.
1. Water-based clay
Just like its name, this type of clay is mixed with water before use. It is very easy to work with and is also inexpensive. When the water begins to evaporate, the clay starts to dry. This is one of the main reasons that make water-based clay popular. One of the main types of clay that come under water-based clay includes air dry clay.
2. Oil-based clay
Oil-based clay is made out of a combination of waxes, oils, and clay minerals. One of the main features of this type of clay is that you can leave it out for hours or even days and the clay will not dry out.
However, sculptures made out of oil-based clay are not ceramics as they cannot be fired. Some of the main types of oil-based clay include plasticine, polymer clay, and epoxy clay.
3. Dough clay
Another type of modeling clay is dough clay. You can make dough clay even at home using cornstarch, flour, oil, water, and cream of tartar. You can dye the dough using a color of your choice. This is one of the most inexpensive types of clay. However, this is suitable only for children.
4. Ceramic clay
Ceramics are made with clay that has been heated or baked to get a permanent shape. In comparison to pottery clay, ceramic clay consists of other materials along with the clay. Some of the main types of ceramic clay are earthenware clay, stoneware clay, ball clay, fire clay, and kaolin clay.
Best Sculpting Clay For Beginners
If you’re a beginner, sculpting can be a bit tricky to learn. But it will be even more difficult if you’re using the wrong type of clay. With the wide range of clay available nowadays, as a beginner, you will find it difficult to identify the right clay. So what is the best clay for sculpting at home for beginners? Let’s take a look.
1. Earthenware Clay
One of the most suitable types of clay you will come across is earthenware. This type of clay is easy to work with because of its plastic-like texture. Since it is malleable and retains its shape it is perfect for sculpting and is easy to use for beginners.
Since it is plastic, you don’t have to constantly add water to it. And the clay that requires a lot of water usually tends to quickly become soft and collapse. If you want to avoid this, Earthenware is a good option.
2. Stoneware Clay
On the other hand, stoneware clay is also quite plastic and is suitable for sculpting for beginners. But keep in mind, there are different types of stoneware clay. Some types are more suitable for a particular task than others. So the type you choose should depend on your task.
What makes stoneware clay so special is that it has added sand. This helps the clay to stand up while sculpting and you won’t have to put much effort from your side.
As you become more experienced, you can experiment with different types of clay. But as a beginner, the above two types are the most suitable for you. So always be mindful and choose the right type of clay to make your sculpting experience a good one!
Best Clay For Sculpting Without A Kiln
As you may already know, using clay to create artwork, sculptures, and other useful objects typically requires firing in a kiln. If you’re wondering what a kiln is, it is a type of high-temperature oven. Using a kiln will help you to add durability to your pottery and sculptures.
But in most cases, many people find it difficult to access a kiln, especially if you’re sculpting from home. In this case, the solution is air-dry clay. Air-dry clay is a great option for anyone that doesn’t have access to a kiln as it dries up and hardens within 24 hours at room temperature.
If you’re familiar with traditional clay, you can use those same techniques for air-dry clay. But there are varieties of air dry clay and their suitability depends on your project. So let’s take a look at the best clay for sculpting at home.
Paper-Based Air Dry Clay
This type of clay starts with a clay body that includes earthenware or terra cotta, thereafter adds the processed paper. This helps to reduce the weight of your project, improves the joining capabilities, and reduces warping.
And also paper-based air dry clay allows you to make alterations to your sculpture such as wet-to-dry and dry-to-dry joins. And also, this type of clay will allow you to increase the firmness of your sculpture and will avoid it from shrinking when drying.
This is one of the most common types of clay you will come across. It is made out of natural clay that consists of iron and various minerals that come from the soil and the animal and plant life within it.
When wet, these finely grained earth materials become pliable, which helps to form non-toxic clay. In comparison to other types, earthen clay tends to be stickier. But it is easy to work with using sculpting tools and your bare hands. Because of this, this type of clay is perfect for sculpting as well as other “look but don’t touch” projects.
What Clay Should You Use For Sculpting at Home?
Now that we have gone through the basic points, it comes down to the question “what clay should you use for sculpting?” after careful consideration, we have selected the below three types of clay as the best clay for sculpting at home.
This type of clay is one of the most fabulous alternatives for ceramic clay and is a great option for home sculpting projects. Polymer clay has the consistency of plasticine and you can purchase it in various degrees of hardness.
You can soften this clay by manually working on it. Just like ceramic clay, you can harden polymer clay by firing it. And if you don’t have a studio or a kiln, polymer clay is a great option. If you think polymer clay is the best option for you, make sure to check out Arteza polymer clay on Amazon.
This brand provides vibrant polymer clay colors that you can simply bake in the oven to harden. It also comes with sculpting tools that will help to bring your creative ideas to life. So make sure to give it a try if you want to experience the best of polymer clay.
This type of clay is a popular choice among many. If you want to work on your sculptures for long hours, plasteline clay is the best option as it never dries out and does not require a kiln. If you want to soften the clay for easy use, you can simply heat it in a pan or microwave it.
Even though this type of clay is somewhat costly, it is an excellent choice especially when precision is the order of the day. One of the best plasteline clay that is available on Amazon is the Sargent art plasteline clay. It is easy to keep fresh, easy to clean up, and simple to use. If you decide on using plasteline clay for sculpting at home, make sure to keep an eye out for this brand for a great sculpting experience.
Made out of corn starch, cold porcelain remains slightly flexible and strong even after air drying. If you don’t have access to a kiln, cold porcelain is a great option as it lends itself to intricate sculptures.
And in general, this type of clay should be colored before sculpting. If not it will look too translucent. However, this does not change the fact that it is a great option for sculpting at home. One of the best cold porcelain clay brands that are available on the market is the Sculpey air dry porcelain clay. It provides a fine finish and is easy to work with, make sure to check it out!
Overall, there are varieties of clay that are available nowadays. But if you are particularly planning on sculpting at home, you should carefully consider the type of clay that you want to purchase. And if you’re a beginner make sure to purchase a type of clay that is easy to use.
This is because whether your sculpting experience will be a good one or a bad one solely depends on the type of clay you use. But don’t worry, make sure to consider the options we have provided and surely you will choose the best clay for sculpting at home and your experience will be a pretty good one!