How to Sculpt a Hand

A Tutorial on Clay Hand Sculpture

How to sculpt a hand
Figure sculpting is not an area of ceramics that I have explored much probably because it seems like such an overwhelming endeavor. But watching Melisa Cadell’s video Figure Sculpting in Clay, made me want to give it a try. Her tutorial on how to sculpt a hand out of clay really seemed like an easy and straightforward way to get started.

In today’s excerpt, a time-lapsed excerpt from her full-length video, Melisa shows how you can start off with a simple tracing of your own hand on a slab of clay and quickly create a “clay sketch” by adding and taking away clay. It is pretty cool how quickly this fairly convincing hand comes together. Though this clip doesn’t take us through to the final refinements of the sculpture, it will help dispel the fears you may have about sculpting the figure because it is such a practical way to approach it. Once you learn how to sculpt a hand, you’ll soon be ready to move onto the feet or other parts of the body! – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.

This clip was excerpted from Figure Sculpting in Clay, which is available in the Ceramic Arts Network Shop!

Contemporary Ceramic Sculpture

Get a taste of the exciting and diverse range of ceramic sculpture being made today when you download this freebieContemporary Ceramic Sculpture.


How to Sculpt a Hand, and Much More!

cadell_finiIf you are looking for more figure sculpting resources, we’ve got you covered in the Ceramic Arts Network archives! See this post on how to sculpt a bust out of clay! And this post on how to sculpt eyes! And if you want the whole figure, well, you’ll have to pick up a copy of Melisa’s video Figure Sculpting in Clay, or watch it on CLAYflicks!

Of course, the human figure isn’t the only figure that is fun to sculpt! Animals make great subjects for sculpture. Check out this post on from Lisa Naples on how to make clay animals!

To learn more about Melisa Cadell or to see more images of her work, please visit


**First published in 2016
  • Jeannie L.

    Great tutorial – like other videos, I wish the camera-person was less shaky, not so close so when the artist moves, the movement goes out of the frame. Or films the artist’s face, when s/he is showing a technique. Wow, we’re missing a lot then.

  • Joanne R.

    Very well done! I’m totally new to working with clay and loving my classes. I’m going to experiment with this at next class. Thank you.

  • Louise B.

    Absolutely brilliant approach to teaching the “complex” anatomy of the hand. I used to pour over anatomy books like Barcsay’s for hints. It’s funny, but as you explain it, it seems so obvious and simple. I guess that’s what they call genius! I wish I had had your video when I was back in school many, many years ago. Thank you soooo much!!!

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