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using cloth soaked in clay to make a simple sculpture of a little girl in a towel

Step 1: Concept

Cloth can be used to create sculptural affects in clay.

This instructable demonstrates how make a simple sculpture of a little girl wrapped in a towel.

The 'towel' is cut from an old facecloth. This gives texture to the sculpture and folds in the cloth without having to actually sculpt in these details.

Very little is gained in this example, except perhaps time. There are other situations where this method helps a lot. For example a dragon's wings or adding lace work to a fancy dress.

The first step is to make a body out of paper. I used scotch tape and a glue gun to form this.

Next get a clump of clay and make a slurry to soak the facecloth. I am using paper clay it is not necessary. If you plan to color the figure, using a white firing clay makes it easier as you don't need to coat it with white first to make the colours stand out.

Step 2: Adding the Cloth

Cover the paper with a thin layer of clay. Add a little extra at the bottom to form a base.

Saturate the cloth with clay and drape it around the 'body'.

Take your time to make it look like you want. If you need to leave the piece, cover with a plastic bag to keep it moist.

Add a layer of clay over the top where the head will attach so it is bonded to clay not paper. Remember the paper and cloth will completely burn away during firing.

Step 3: Making Her Head

Roll a ball of clay and attach it to the top of the towel with some clay.

Shape a girls face as well as you can.

Add clay to make hair.

If you want you can partly hide the face with hair to cover any imperfections in your efforts with the face.

I left a little bit of rough specs to look like sand in her hair.

Step 4: Glazing and Firing to Finish

Once the clay is bone dry it can be glazed, as this is going to be a single firing.

I chose to add underglaze for color and then cover with a clear coat.

I placed it in my kiln with some work I was bisque firing to cone 06 and the piece is finished. ( I did glue it to a wood base and add a title )

Using cloth like this you could do several and perhaps add a foot sticking out or a hand to add some interest and difficulty.

When I make my next one I will be sure to use a pink underglaze. I thought the thin coat of red would come out as pink. When I do make another one, I will add a couple of pictures, just to give a few more examples of this technique.

One note of caution. I had feedback from a sculptor who tried this and the cloth disintegrated, leaving nothing but a fine dust. Not sure why. I suggest you use plenty of clay soaked into the material and experiment with something simple first.

About This Instructable

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Bio: Liked to draw and paint when I was growing up. Switched to carving and sculpture in my twenties. Work in wood, stone / marble, plaster, and ... More »
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