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Old 05-06-2018, 09:48 PM
 
285 posts, read 74,357 times
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how do you make an armature for a clay sculpture?

Last edited by Jezku; 05-06-2018 at 11:16 PM..
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Old 05-07-2018, 07:59 AM
 
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There are several types of armatures you can make but it would depend on the size
and what type of sculpture. Will this be done with natural clay such as stoneware or
polymer clay? Will this be used for making a plaster cast, casting in bronze or hollowing
and firing the finished clay/sculpture itself? Will the sculpture be small or large (such
as a bust?

There are several YouTube videos that display just using clay. The basic armatures
vary from just using wire (for smaller pieces) to a board base (see below).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7RiYb-IXFw
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Old 05-07-2018, 01:34 PM
 
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wonderful feedback; i will be using regular clay & hollowing and firing the finished sculpture is my goal with this project. it would be for a small to medium sized sculpture, like a head or a standing figure.
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Old 09-11-2018, 08:18 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jezku View Post
wonderful feedback; i will be using regular clay & hollowing and firing the finished sculpture is my goal with this project. it would be for a small to medium sized sculpture, like a head or a standing figure.
If you're planning on a fired clay sculpture, you don't want to use a rigid armature like the one in that video. Those are used when the plan is to make a mold off the solid supported clay form. Often oil-based clay is used for that, since it doesn't dry out.

Instead, you need an armature that will allow the clay to shrink a bit without cracking against something immovable. So figure out an armature that will support the weight of the clay while being collapsible enough to accommodate the shrinkage. I've used dowels drilled into a board, wrapped with crumpled newspaper and masking tape. The board can be pulled off after the clay's dry enough to support itself and be handled ("leather-hard" in clayspeak). Then you can pull out the newspaper and tape through the opening. If any remains, it will burn up in the kiln, so remove all you can and don't use anything that would make toxic smoke.

Andrew Werby
Juxtamorph.com
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Old 09-18-2018, 10:39 AM
 
Location: Old Mother Idaho
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Firing clay changes what armature materials need to be. Clay is an ancient medium, the oldest of them all, but it's tricky because it depends on heat to make it durable.

If you are entirely unfamiliar with using clay for sculpture, the armature is not your greatest challenge. The clay and kiln are.

There is no 'regular' clay. The clay used in stoneware is different from the clay used in porcelain, and each has its own firing temperatures, limitations, and requirements. Armatures all add another layer of these complications. Even the kilns are as different as can be.

I suggest spending some time discovering what you need to know before attempting your finished project. The kiln is a good place to start, because the success of your finished work entirely depends on it.

Once you have the knowledge, it would be very good to experiment using it on something you can sacrifice first beforehand. Several times. Things like size and thickness create big differences in clay firing, as does the way the clay is prepared. Tiny air bubbles are always your enemy, for example.

It's a very tricky medium in some uses and a very reliable medium in others. But it's fun. And the learning is fun too.

Once you know how to make things that will be very hot, that knowledge translates to other things than need to be hot. Learning how to fire clay successfully is a good step toward learning how to fire metals, glass, plastics and other stuff that needs to be heated to be complete. Each is different, but the heat is universal.

And when there's enough know-how, the size can be pretty fun, too. Tiny things are as fun to make as huge things, and both can be done in clay. Clay is also great to color and texture too.

It all may take you a while to learn, but what better use of time is there? A well done clay object will last thousands of years!

But if all you want is to make a small hollow sculpture of a standing figure, a plastic polymer clay will work fine. It's very easy to work with, and all it takes is a kitchen oven to harden it. Since the temperatures are much lower, everything is easier.

And the plastic is very durable when properly fired. It may not last a millennium, but it will definitely last decades. It comes in many good colors, and some of it closely resembles clay. Because it is clay, as it has the same properties and requirements, it's worth consideration.

I've seen some great professional work done with Sculpey. That stuff comes in many different versions. Some provide techniques an artist cannot use with ceramic clay. So ceramic clay, with all it's difficulties, might not be the material you want to use.
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