Introduction: DIY Clay Sculpting Tools

Clay sculpting tools are necessary for sculpting in any kind of detail, but they're way to expensive for what they are. Especially considering that they'll inevitably disappear and show up much later in some strange location after you were already forced to buy a new one. As I have absolutely no money, (art is an expensive habit,) I had to improvise and now I think it's time to share that knowledge with the world.

This is my first instructable, so please feel free to comment any improvements I could make, and I'm entering it into the Toolmaker competition so please be sure to vote!

Step 1: Materials

A bunch of random stuff. Literally anything that's otherwise useless and might make a cool texture on clay. For the tools in this instructable, you will need something akin to:

Old gift cards
Duct tape
Model Magic Clay or cloud clay
skewers, Pencils, or other "sticks"
wire, pliers, and cutters
pins (sewing, or interesting pushpins)
moldable plastic or polymer clay
Sponge
Foil
and whatever else you can stick into a piece of clay.

Step 2: Wire Tools

Take a piece of wire, (I got mine in the tool section of Dollar Tree,) and wrap it around a cylindrical object like a pen or a straw, repeat with as many smaller or larger objects as you like. Duct tape these to a piece of skewer or a pencil. These can be used to create a variety of effects such as ribboning or divoting.

Step 3: Dotting Tools

I used some extra sewing pins to make dotting tools. Two different sized spheres was all I needed, but if you need larger ones, try gluing a bead onto another pin. Push the pins into the ends of your skewers, pencils, paintbrushes etc... and secure them with tape. if you want an easier grip, wrap some Model Magic around the end.

Step 4: "Rib" Tools

Rib tools are traditionally made of wood and are used for cutting and scraping clay, but they're easily made out of old gift cards. Draw the shape you want onto a piece of plastic, (like a gift card, or packaging from takeout,) and cut it out with scissors. I used traditional shapes, but you could cut the plastic to make whatever texture you want. File the edge to make sure there are no jagged edges.

Step 5: Texturing Tools

These tools are used to give a stippled or roughened texture to whatever you are sculpting. I like to use them when adding detail to rocks, dirt, and even some animal furs. Take a piece of material and tape it onto the end of whatever you're using for a handle. I used foil and a piece of sponge, but you could use steel wool, crumpled tape, or whatever else you have on hand.

Step 6: Cutting Tool

This fun little tool doubles as a clay cutter and a deadly garrote. (Just kidding! Clay only!)

Simply tie a piece of fishing line or jewelry wire to two pencils as pictured above. Secure with tape for an even cut.

Step 7: Alternative Tools

Never be afraid to get creative with your tools! You could even sculpt some yourself out of polymer clay. That would be ironic.

You can find tools in the strangest of places, here are some of the things that I like to use:

Pedicure Tool. (Dollar Tree)
Mathematical compass
Paint-by-numbers scratching tool (don't ask.)
Crochet hook (not sure why I have that)
Guitar picks
silicone smudger on old eyeliner pencil
old pen
X-acto knife
old soldering iron tips
cleaned seashells (nice scalloped texture)
Unused toothbrush
And honestly whatever else I can get my hands on.

Step 8: Post-Dry Sculpting Tools.

There are some clays that can be manipulated after drying but make sure to check labels, some can release harmful chemicals. You can sand sculptures smooth or cut them with
X-acto knives. I've heard that rotary tools can also be used, but I can't afford one to test that theory, so don't quote me on it. :)

I'm entering this instructable into the toolmaking contest, so please vote for it. If you have any idea for other tools, please comment them and I'll add them in!

Sculpting instructable to follow!

Comments

author
DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2017-03-12

Nice. I always make my own tools for this kind of thing. Because my kids can break them or lose them and I can just make another one.

author

Yeah. If I don't step on them, they eventually go missing and turn up in weird places. I just found a bunch of them behind the dryer in a patch of dust bunnies. :/

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Bio: I'm broke, I'm awkward, and I like nothing better than holing myself up in my workshop, (room) to make/restore/revamp whatever strikes ... More »
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