Children often love to shape, sculpture and play with clay to create clay people, animals, flowers, ornaments, and more. Nowadays, this love for sculpturing clay can be made into a higher level, especially for creative people with a passion for art. With the availability of oven-bake clays, the hobby of shaping things in clay has become more enjoyable and more fun than ever before.
The material they use is Polymer clay, which does not technically contain clay. Instead, it has polymers similar to PVC, with liquids added to make it moldable. It comes in 12 great colors. It hardens usually in an oven over low heat in 3-4 minutes, like in your oven toaster.
Self-hardening clay is exactly what it sounds like. You mold it, set it aside, and let it harden over the course of several days. Unlike modeling clays, which are oil- or wax-based, polymer clays are resinous, self-hardening and are water-based. Fine art clays are usually exactly like self-hardening clays, except that they use high-quality clay and add only water.
For polymer clay, you bake and oven-harden the clay in a regular kitchen oven toaster. A piece of wax paper is set on top of a baking sheet, cutting it so that it matches the inside dimensions of the sheet. Most polymer or oven-baked clays will harden after they are cooked at 265 °F (129 °C) to 275 °F (135 °C) for 15 minutes per 1⁄4 inch (6.4 mm) of thickness. However, small sculptures usually harden in 3-4 minutes, otherwise, it burns and turns black. Afterward, the baking sheet is removed from the oven and placed on a heat-resistant surface. The clay sculpture is then permitted to cool at room temperature before removing it.
The clay sculptures are then hand-painted. However, since there are now the different colors of clays, you can use the different colors for eyes, nose, hair, petals, leaves or other parts, thus no need to paint.
Polymer clay is available in Toy stores in most of the shopping malls in Metro Manila, and brands include Fimo, Premo, Kato, Cernit, and Sculpey.
With these materials, clay sculptures and art can be created and preserved, and these fun creatures actually are not difficult to make. The art of sculpturing just need practice and patience, and also a source of motivation and model for your art. You can actually watch some demonstrations on Youtube as a guide. With it, you may start your own sculptured collection. The things you create can be made into various items like keychains, bracelets, earrings, decorations, action Minifigures, or items for scrapbooks. They are great to give as gifts, as the start of a small
business or just to add them to your shelf containing box together with other precious art pieces.
For Kindergarten teachers or for art-inclined parents, you can include art sculpturing activities to your students and kids. These enhance their creativity and gives them an enjoyable hobby. Even young adults and little mature enterprising adults are into this hobby. Supported by her parents which are both artists, her skills have gone a long way. As you will see, there is a lot of potential for this art form, which will help talented art-oriented children to develop their skills and make their creations into an interesting and useful product. (Norby Bautista)
Words by Norby Bautista
Photo credit to Norby Bautista
Published by Diyaryo Milenyo