Sculpture Techniques

Clay is the most versatile sculpture material around. It’s easy to use, readily available, inexpensive, and perfect for creating works of almost any size or shape. For thousands of years, artists have used clay to stir their imagination and give shape to their ideas. (Scroll for more.)

$19.97 — $32.97

Download a snippet!

Softcover | 146 Pages
Order code B157 | ISBN 978-1-57498-375-3


In Sculpture Techniques, you will discover a world of fresh ideas from more than thirty artists as they share their unique approaches and inspired insights. This book provides a wealth of valuable information along with lots of ideas you will want to try out. If you are looking for endless hours of exciting ways to spend time in the studio, Sculpture Techniques can serve as your guide.

Construction Techniques

In this handbook, you’ll see how Jo Taylor and Wouter Dam construct complex assemblages from thrown pieces and how they overcame challenges dealing with slumping and color. Norma Yuskos was faced with a desire to create large sculptures but only had a small kiln. Her solution was to figure out how to make large sculptures in sections so they could be fired separately and reassembled later. Jerilyn Virden and Stephanie DeArmond demonstrate techniques for adding volume to otherwise flat forms using double-wall techniques. Mark Gordon was inspired by an ancient North African brick-making technique when he came up with sticking bone-dry components together with a thick clay mortar. On the other end of the spectrum, Peter Johnson and Roderick Bamford lead you through some of the basics of how to create sculptures using 3-D modeling programs and clay printers. The advantage of creating sculptures in clay is that you are not limited to just merely standard handbuilding and throwing techniques. With ceramic sculpture, there are no limits to the number of techniques you can use to bring your ideas into a tangible form.

Figurative Sculpture

If you are interested in working with figures, there are many approaches you can take. Benjamin Lira uses a coil method to make his large open-topped busts, while Eva Kwong assembles forms from thrown parts to create her biomorphic sculptures that appear otherworldly. Magda Glusek uses a traditional maquette as a starting point for her figures, and Cara Moczygemba builds up her figures in layers. If you’re looking for a way to relieve a lot of tension while you sculpt, you may want to try out Tony Natsoulas’ technique for throwing portraits. Yes, he actually throws clay against a wall to build his initial forms! Almost as unusual, but also highly practical, Lisa Merida-Paytes takes her experience as the daughter of a taxidermist and demonstrates how to create fish using a mold made from a fish.

Wall Sculptures

While a lot of sculpture rests on a pedestal, floor or a shelf somewhere, the wall is also the perfect place to consider applying your creative talents. In this chapter, Monica Rudquist describes her monumental installation of more than a thousand thrown parts that formed a 40-foot long piece. Since large installations bring their own challenges, Monica’s experiences shed light on how to successfully carry it off. In another installation for a hotel lobby, Kathy Pallie demonstrates how to create a realistic, natural-looking installation of birch trees using clay tubes and a trompe-l’oeil technique. On a smaller scale, Cary Esser casts three-dimensional compositions using an adjustable plaster mold concept, and Amy Sanders makes quilted wall tiles inspired by her exposure to quilting bees as a child. David Gamble’s wall tiles readily lend themselves suitable for just about anything—bas relief sculpture, painting, textures—the perfect base for any wall piece. Ursula Hargens forms wall pieces inside contoured molds then arranges them to take advantage of negative spaces. And if you ever wondered how those large tile or brick bas relief sculptures appeared in public places, more than likely they began life on a large carving easel, which Barbara Stevens provides plans for.

Mixing Materials

Clay can often be used successfully with other materials throughout the ceramic process. Deborah Sigel first creates thick steel frames and packs them with Egyptian paste, an ancient self-glazing clay body. By adding different colors, her sculptures remind you of flowers or seed pods hanging from wires. Linda Mau also uses steel in her sculptures by brushing paperclay slip onto hardware cloth forms. These lightweight sculptures can be fired using any surface treatment but her pit-fired work is stunning. Lorri Fowler also uses steel in her long-legged horse sculptures where huge pole-barn nails serve as armatures for legs. An intriguing use of steel mesh comes with Jen Champlin’s technique for firing her wedding dress. Faced with what to do with a dress she’d never wear again, Jen decided to cover it with slip and fire it using steel screen to hold the shape in the kiln. Trey Hill also uses steel, but his technique is to use it after firing as an addition to the sculpture. Leigh Taylor Mickelson uses steel rod to support her totems. Etsuko Tashima has developed a technique for casting glass onto a ceramic sculpture after the ceramic piece has been glazed and fired. While the process is time-consuming, the results are like nothing you’ve ever seen before showing just how far artists will push the limits with ceramic sculpture.

As you read through this unique collection of articles from Ceramics Monthly and Pottery Making Illustrated, you will realize the endless possibilities with ceramic sculpture. From figurative and abstract works, to sculptures large and small, this book is filled with the perfect amount of inspiration and instruction.

Enter Your Log In Credentials
This setting should only be used on your home or work computer.

Larger version of the image