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Sculpting Is A Growing Passion Simple Tips To Help You Get Started On Your Next Great Hobby


Sculpting is an art as old as humanity itself.

Some of the oldest examples of human creativity are clay pots, bronze sculptures and suits of armor. While 3-D printing has made this an easier hobby to pursue, old-fashioned habits die hard. There are still quite a few hobbyists today embracing the feel of wet clay beneath their fingers and crafting dishes, figurines and decorations. If you’ve found yourself wanting to flex your creative muscles there are a few things you should know first. No art is mastered in a day and your sculptures will look much better when you become familiar with the more basic tools.

From high temp ceramic coating to carving tools, here are a few resources to help you get started.

The Basics Of Sculpting

Sculpting takes on many forms. It’s also done for many purposes. One person might be an experienced artist with a lengthy resume sculpting masks and models for film. Another might be a hobbyist making a few extra bucks selling products on Etsy. Sculpting, in a short, is a wonderfully flexible skill that can bring out your best. There are different types of clay to choose from, as well as pre-packaged ingredients that can be bought at any supply store, and unique finishes to give your final result some shine. If you want to avoid breakage or accidents, though, you need to keep the next few tips in mind.

Common Beginner Mistakes

Sculpting can be tricky for first time artists because of all the little things that can easily go wrong. A basic tip for any sculptor is to be mindful of air bubbles when kneading your clay. Even a tiny pocket of air can lead to a breakage in the oven, destroying your hours of hard work and leaving you with a mess to clean up. Another tip you should always keep in mind is keeping your clay moist. This means spraying it down periodically and covering it carefully when you put it away for the day. Failing to do this can leave you with half-hard clay that’s nearly impossible to work with!

Simple Sculpting Tools

You’ve likely come across elaborate artist tool sets and found yourself asking how you’ll ever get the hang of them, much less figure out your high temp ceramic coating. Remember that mastery comes later. For now you want to give yourself a basic foundation that can help you get comfortable with the process. Sculpting tools include the wire end modeling tools, sculpting knives and scrapers. These are used to help you cut your clay evenly or add little details that would be difficult with just your fingers. Make sure to invest in a spray bottle, plastic bags and some clothes you don’t mind getting dirty!

High Temp Coatings

What about the baking and finishing process? You’ll want your high temp ceramic coating to be on the up and up. The average kiln will fire up to 1,800 to 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit. Ceramic is unbelievably heat resistant and is able to withstand temperatures of 2,000 degrees Celsius (or 3,800 degrees Fahrenheit). ITC ceramic coatings, in particular, can exceed that up to 5,000 degrees. The earliest known kilns dated all the way back to 6,000 BCE and were able to fire up to 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit. Figuring this out is a trial and error process that will only get easier with time.

Choosing The Best ITC High Temp Coating

Kiln elements can last up to 100 firings, give or take, and your high temp ceramic coating should fit your project as closely as possible. To date there are five types of ITC ceramic coating to choose from. You have the ITC 148, the ITC 100HT ceramic coating, the ITC 213 ceramic metal coating, ITC 296A top coating and the ITC 200 repair. It’s recommended by most artists that objects inside a kiln not be placed within one and a half inches of the kiln elements to stay on the safe side. You should also change a kiln element when the element has developed an increased 10% resistance.

Feeling creative? Your next great sculpture is right around the corner.

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