Sculpting clay isn’t your typical kid’s arts, and craft clay, this kind of clay is intended to be used for professional use; unlike arts and craft clay, sculpting clay isn’t engineered to be safe and non-toxic because it’s not meant for children. However, it is not to say that sculpting clay isn’t safe and it’s toxic. Sculpting clay requires more finesse to work with, and it allows for masterpieces to be created from a wad of clay.
The right sculpting clay for the job should have the perfect balance between being soft and hard. In other words, it should not be too soft that it makes it tough for you to form it into the desired shape, nor should it be too tough that you can’t form anything out of it. As such, sculpting your desired shape (or whatever it is that you have in your in mind) onto the clay should not be too much of a hassle for you.
If you’re an artist that likes to use sculpting clay a lot, then you should know that all of your efforts should bear fruit the way you envisioned it from the beginning of your project. You don’t want to see your efforts die in vain as the clay crumbles in front of your very eyes, nor should it be too cumbersome to sculpt that you’re expending unnecessary sweat and muscle in the process. Luckily, here is a short list of fine sculpting clays that you might want to check out the next time you run out.
PolyformSculpey Super Sculpting Compound
Unlike modeling clay or arts and craft clay, sculpting clay is meant to create sophisticated works of art and requires baking so it can set and retain its shape. That said, sculpting clay is intended for one-time use; once you bake it, it’s already solid as a stone; this process can’t be reversed. The Sculpey Super Sculpting Clay from Polyform is one of America’s best-known sculpting clay brands and has been used ever since its introduction.
The clay is designed to give you the feel of ceramic clay without easily drying out from contact with air. The nature of Sculpey is soft and pliable; it can achieve intricate details and delicate shapes without worry of it breaking off from its weight. When used bare, it’s perfect to be used as flesh for human models or other organic models. Why is it perfect for that application? That’s because this clay has a characteristic that once baked, it gets a semi-transparent finish that perfectly simulates the flesh of organic materials such as skin. If you’re a modeler that likes to add fleshy details to your models, this clay is perfect for you.
If you want to paint over the bare finish of the clay, it can also be done. As a bonus, thanks to the semi-transparent color of the clay, you can choose to paint it with opaque colors while leaving a few parts with transparent colors so you can achieve a variety of effects such as fish fins or other intricate details that greatly benefit from transparency.
ActivaPlus Natural Self-Hardening Clay
Where the PolyformSculpy required a quick bake in the oven to retain its shape, the Activa Plus sculpting clay is self-hardening using a particular combination of ingredients. This sculpting clay is excellent for larger applications such as mid-sized statues and other models that won’t fit inside your typical kitchen oven. The clay can cure via air drying and can be cured in a kiln if you want to ensure a solid sculpt.
The clay is supposed to be worked on with some degree of haste because the clay can air dry; however this can be bypassed by moistening the surface with water, it’s not very friendly if used by someone who’s learning the ropes about sculpting. That said, it can also make it easier to work on if some parts have already dried and maintained the stability of the structure. All you have to worry about are errors and correcting them.
The ultra-fine particles of the clay give you a natural, yet plasticky feel, this kind of feel gives you control over the sculpt you’re trying to achieve. The fine grains allow for even the most intricate of details and makes it perfect for almost any type of modeling job such as car mock-ups, and even masks.
After you have successfully sculpted your work, you can let it sit for a few hours for the ingredients to cure and the structure to solidify. Putting the finished sculpture in a kiln can fully cure the clay down to the core and once cured, it can be ready to paint. The finish is non-porous and will accept any paint finish from matte to gloss and even metallic.
AMACO 25-Pound Air Dry Clay
The 25-pound block of clay from AMACO is plain and straightforward, but it’s expensive. Used to make medium-scale models, both professionals and amateurs can utilize the clay. You don’t have to bother about having difficulties with pliability as all you need to do is to keep the clay moist so that it will remain easily workable. When you’re done, AMACO designed their clay’s formulation to dry from the outside to the inside evenly. As all the moisture gets sucked out of the fine particles, the result is a smooth and robust surface that’s free of any pores that will ruin the look.
This large block of clay can be used for a variety of purposes, you can use it to sculpt something from scratch, or you can put it on top of a pottery wheel to make air-dried pots. The level of malleability can be adjusted by gradually spraying water over the clay. However, be careful when applying water as too much can make the clay too soft and may cause it to fall apart.
Once you’re done with sculpting, you can leave it to air dry or use a kiln to cure the clay in preparation for painting properly. Painting the finished sculpture is easy, it gives a smooth finish, and you can lock the coat of paint with a layer of Shellac to not only keep the finish but also add an extra coat of protection and durability for the sculpture.
Monster Makers Monster Clay Premium Grade Modelling Clay
Monster Makers sell their clay as special sculpting clays that are formulated specifically for visual effects work and movie props. Dubbed as the Monster Clay, this type of clay is widely used in the film industry as the mother mold for prosthetics or masks. Depending on the hands that handle the premium quality clay, you can create anything from simple masks to realistic-looking prosthetics.
Since this premium grade sculpting clay is more expensive than many others, it does make up for it in quality. Instead of using fine grains of sand that are mixed with water and other compounds to reach the consistency of clay, this fine clay uses a mixture of oil and wax. If you’re familiar with wax sculptures and how realistic they look, then you get the same realism from this type of clay.
Working with wax and oil gives the clay excellent malleability and one of the best textures that simulate human flesh. The clay is formulated with natural ingredients and is sulfur-free, once you’re done with the final sculpt, you can seal the mold by curing the sculpture inside an oven. After its ready, you can use it as it is, paint over it, or use it as the original mold for latex masks that you can use for props or mass production.
AMACO Air Dry Modelling Clay
The AMACO Air Dry Modelling Clay is a basic modeling clay package that sets by exposing the clay to air. You can have the clay in different colors to achieve a certain look on a model. Each packaging of the clay comes in large tubs that range from 5-pounds to 10-pounds and even larger such as a 25-pound pack that’s ideal for use with large sculptures.
For only a few bucks, you can acquire 10-pounds of fine quality modeling clay that’s ready to use and can be used in a variety of applications such as school projects, scale mock-ups of vehicles. These can also be used in making prosthetics, or just about any artistic output you can think of such as pottery or just basically anything. The clay will start to set as soon as you expose it to air outside of its vacuum packaging. This air will cause the particles to lose moisture and solidify like how cement hardens over time. To keep the clay easy to work with, you can spray a small amount of water on the desired area to keep it moist and prevent it from drying.
Just like any other molding clay, you can put your finished work inside an oven or a kiln to accelerate the drying process and cure the clay down to its core, so you’re left with a 100% solid sculpture.
If you’re a newbie to sculpting, or a professional artist making your latest masterpiece, sculpting clays are not your regular clay that you can buy at the arts and craft store for kids. Are you looking for a fresh supply of clay or curious about the world of sculpting? There’s very little to consider when looking for sculpting clays. Their prices are usually tied to their quality, and it’s up to you to test the plasticity of the sculpting clay if you like the feel of it.