View Full Version : How to get smooth?
07-21-2004, 11:38 AM
This is my first attempt at scuplture. I decided to try a simple rose to start. My question is, how do you get a smooth finish to your piece? I'd like to know how to avoid (& get rid of) the cracks, particularly along the edges. You can see the cracks along the petal ridges here. I used a water based, air-dry clay.
Thanks in advance for any help!
07-22-2004, 10:00 AM
I've never used this type of clay before myself, but I would suggest since it's water-based.....keep it moist until done. (Have a small container of water nearby and dip your fingers in and smooth the edges with the wet fingers) Gentle smoothing against the grain of you fingers should work. I'm sure someone else here has better advice possibly when it comes with this type of clay, but in my experience with other clays it's always drying out that causes the cracks. You should get some Sculpey and try it out...I bet you'd love it as it won't dry out until you want it to. (You harden it in the oven)
07-22-2004, 11:38 AM
Scottyboy, thanks for the reply. I try to keep it moist, but the cracks still appear. Maybe I'm pressing the clay too thin on the edges.
I was checking out your work yesterday. Awesome. I wouldn't be surprised to know you're working at ILM in the near future.
to avoid the cracks you have to keep it moist. You can also use a paintbrush with some water to try and blend it back together. For smoothing i use the paintbrush too sometimes. In addition, i let the clay harden a bit then use one of those rubber smoothing tools and press over and over working the areas in question to smooth them out. You can buy these rubber tools from most any art supply store.
i just noticed your photos...what you can also try is to plug those cracks with clay that is rather moist. then you can use the paintbrush.
my two cents.
07-22-2004, 02:19 PM
Thanks, Uno. I think I will try to plug the cracks up with some more clay. Also, I'll try to blend in with an old brush.
07-22-2004, 06:05 PM
Very nice rose! I would also suggest you try a block of Sculpey. It comes in gorgeous colors and you can mix two colors together if you wish. You will need to bake it in the oven for it to harden, though.
Now, I haven't done anything with the air drying kind -- what brand did you use? Best of luck with your sculpture path, I'm a newbie with it, but I love it.
07-23-2004, 11:37 AM
Hi DragonsChest, thanks. The brand I am using is Claystone.
I actually got some good results using a Popsicle stick to smooth things out. There's a brand new box of Fudgesicles in my freezer. Now I have an excuse to eat them all....
07-23-2004, 12:59 PM
Fudgesicles, yum......! :p
07-23-2004, 01:45 PM
A soft paintbrush with water on it works good too.
Hello, and welcome to sculpting! Wet clay in cracks and smooth over with an old paintbrush dipped in water....yup, that's what I would have suggested. If you get a chance, please post an update. Roses are one of the hardest to do in air-dry clay, from my experience, mainly because of the cracking at the thin edges. So, don't feel discouraged. You did pretty well. I'm anxious to see how these turn out for you. What's next?
07-26-2004, 02:24 PM
Jo and Yogi, thank you both for the paintbrush suggestion. I did try it, and it helped smooth things out. Unfortunately, I got bored with the rose and mashed it up. I think I'll try something a bit more ambitious next, like a portrait. Thanks again!
Sounds great. Don't forget to post what you come up with. :)
07-30-2004, 09:59 PM
Something to remember about water based clays: water takes up room. When it leaves a thin piece of clay, like the petals, the space cannot be taken up easily by the clay shifting. Visualize the clay as what it is...a very thick solution of tiny particles of earth. As the water goes away in a thick wall the clay can settle down a bit, but when the cracks appear you now have more surface area from which to lose water. One thing to do is add glycerin to the water to thicken it up and slow down the process. Another thing is to press the walls of the cracks down with, say, a popsicle stick. 8-) that reduces the surface area. It's not a great idea to add moist clay to a drying thin piece of clay because they don't merge well together due to the difference in density. If you want to make something that thin, there's another way to do it without cracks. Carve the clay when it's mostly dry, maybe leather hard. By removing the mostly dry clay the remaining clay has already setled into place. Another good way to do it is to mix in short sections of nylon rope, like 1/4" long. You work it with your fingers into the clay and end up with a fuzzy clay. Then the fibers of nylon hold the clay in place as the water leaves, allowing no cracks. This is good because small cracks fire into large cracks and large crack cause structural failure. Try the carving idea and try the nylon fibers. You'll be surprised how thin you can roll a bit of fuzzy clay, and the nylon fires up into carbon dioxide and water vapor leaving only tiny little microscopic tunnels, not a problem. Fuzzy clay is the absolutely best way to make hair in near full relief and flowers in my opinion.
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