View Full Version : Clay Study Model - Questions
11-25-2001, 08:27 AM
I am looking to clay for a material that I can use for study models. I bought some this week and did some reading on how to build an armature and such. Here is my first study model. Nothing major just a spiral shape to get familiar with using clay.
I used two coat hangers for the main armature structure and then wrapped it with wire mesh. Now I am watching how it dries. I read in a post here about winterstone and will begin sculpting using winterstone soon. Winterstong looks like a great replacement for the cement I use. From what I read winterstone and clay are much in the same regarding workability before it dries.
So here are a few questions…..
How long will this take to dry?
When it does dry will it crumble and crack?
My coat hanger armature is not very sturdy/ ridged, I had to support it with and wire from the top to the ceiling in my studio, so will it support the weight when I release it from the wire?
The clay was fun to work with. I did notice that as it dries it gets harder and harder, which allows me to carve into the clay. I should have built the clay up more on the armature, I carved down to the armature/wire mesh in places.
O well, fun first stab at it.
11-25-2001, 08:48 AM
It's often a good idea to try to dry clay slowly and evenly by loosely covering with plastic, allowing air to get in so it begins to dry and covering thinner parts more so they dry at the same rate as thicker parts. Otherwise the thinner parts will dry more quickly and there is a danger of cracking.
Regarding armatures, you might be interested in this lesson in our sculpture channel:
Sculpture Armatures (http://www.wetcanvas.com/Articles/Frank_Moran/70/)
11-25-2001, 08:52 AM
I am guessing - but I think the sculpture will break when the wire is cut owing to it's own weight.
11-25-2001, 09:38 AM
It's so nice to see you using this forum. We are starting to get some life in here! I am sure there are others much much more experienced that I, but I have a couple of comments in answer to your questions. Firstly, if you had to wire it to the ceiling to keep it up it probably won't stand alone after it's dry either unless you attach it to your base in some way (bolts etc.). By making the wires a bit longer you can insert them into holes drilled into a temp working base, such a a scrap of wood.
The length of time clay requires to become dry varies. It may take anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks! But, this particular clay will probably crack somewhat and not be something you would want as a permanent piece. I personally use wet clay for making working models or if I am going to make a mold from it later. I don't use it as a finished product, although I have made pieces from it that I later wished I could keep!
I am planning to try Winterstone also, but haven't come across it in the stores here yet so I have picked up two others to try. One is called Marblex (a light whitish grey) and the other is Claystone (about the same color as wet clay). I have read good & bad commments on all the brands. I think the success or lack of...lies in the way one dries it and to do it very slowly keeping it covered. It's nice to hear you are enjoying working with clay and let us know how you make out.
Have a good day :)
11-25-2001, 06:36 PM
The forum is great, hope people keep coming in. Thanks for the info. I did not plan to keep, just a study, I think the winterstone will be similar in texture and workability. It's pricey enough you don't want to spend alot of it with studies.
11-26-2001, 09:28 PM
Yielding...another interesting piece in progress. Models in clay for finished works is a very old practice. If you use wet clay however, some things to keep in mind is the shrinkage. As the water dries out the clay shrinks and any unyielding matter within cracks the clay. The best way to avoid this is to make your armature out of whatever material needed for strength undersized enough so that you can cover it with crumpled paper to allow for the shrink. The paper or soft material should be covered with plastic wrap otherwise, the paper becomes so soggy it will collapse on the armature. I keep the bags from the drycleaners for this..works great and in large dimensions. Another way is to build the rough form, lay it down if necessary or prop with anything that will support, until this is 'leather hard'. Then you can put the final coats of clay on and the harder parts act as the armature. It will eventually absorb the moisture from the outer coats and will fire in a kiln as if it were made all at once.
You are probably aware that once the clay dries it is extremely fragile until fired.
The other option is plastine clay. It never hardens, does not shrink and you can use any armature. It can stand around for years and if it gets banged up a little it's easy to repair. One caveat, high temps can melt it off the armature. i.e. 120 plus degrees. (had it happen, too often) A very good book on this method is by Bruno Lucchesi, a very gifted sculptor and equally gifted teacher.
11-27-2001, 08:20 AM
Great info Max! Thank you for sharing. I plan to look for the book...I don't have nearly enough yet!!! Thanks again.
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