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An Adventure in Clay Modelling

Updated on February 9, 2014
BlossomSB profile image

As a teacher at all levels and mother of five children, Bronwen has been interested in a variety of crafts for both children and adults.

Finished but not fired
Finished but not fired | Source

Potter for a Day

At the Artists' group I belong to, one of the other members was also a potter. She offered to hold a session to introduce those who wished to make something with clay. I thought I'd love to, but as I'd tried once before years ago and had found that working in 3-D was very different, I was so disappointed with my results that I had not tried for years.

Actually, that's not quite true when I think about it. I've used clay when teaching, but that was different, as I was encouraging the children to make things. And when we first lived in Papua New Guinea our two girls were small and I home-schooled them, beginning with kindergarten. We invited a few of the local children to join and we had lots of fun together. One day we took buckets and spades and walked up the track to a creek I had noticed. There was lovely white clay there in the bank and we collected some, carried it back and the next day we made things with it and then cooked them in the oven of our fire stove where I also cooked our bread. One of the things that my eldest daughter made was a watch. She has never forgotten how disappointed she was that after it was cooked it did not go!

Also, I now have a granddaughter who teaches ceramics at both a school and TAFE and she makes the most brilliant things. She's the daughter of the watch-maker.

Anyway, rather tentatively, I joined the group.

Material Needed - Simply Clay
Material Needed - Simply Clay | Source

Materials Needed

The materials were quite basic and easy to use. There may have been others, but these are what I remember using most:

  • Clay
  • Wooden spoons
  • Knives
  • Steel knitting needles

Preparation

All we had to take was lots of newspaper and old shirts for protecting our clothes. Our teacher would bring the rest.

On the day, we arrived with our newspapers and shirts - and lots of enthusiasm.

The papers were soon spread out. We were each given strips of clay and a selection of tools was laid out for our use.

Then our teacher began to explain how to build up a figure that would be hollow. She suggested that we could use the finished product to store our paint-brushes or it might make a good flower-pot. I thought the latter might be a good idea.

Some of the Materials Needed
Some of the Materials Needed | Source

Have you ever had fun and tried to make something in clay?

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We Begin

The teacher demonstrated how to join and smooth our clay so that we had a hollow in the middle. Oh, yes, there was also water as we had to keep the clay damp.

The demonstration model was a bust and I liked the way she did this, but once I had the basic shape I thought I'd make mine a little more modest and added strips of 'ribbon' so it looked as if it were clad.

Some of the others made the bust or a whole torso, or one person even turned hers into a dog, with the head removable as a lid.

Work Has Begun
Work Has Begun | Source

On the Way

There was much concentration, laughter and we all had a great time. In fact, we couldn't believe where the time had gone.

My model was a little crooked but I was really pleased with the result and the fun we'd had. I thought I couldn't do it, but found that I could!

Now all I need to do is persuade my granddaughter that it needs to be baked in her kiln. The unfired finished product is at the top of my hub.

If ever you have the opportunity to do something like this, do it!

I can recommend it - great therapy and so much fun.

It's Fun!
It's Fun! | Source

Comments

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    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      i was just about to click off..then this little hobby hub caught my attention.. it looks like alot of fun blossoms thank you for sharing..

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      What a beautiful end product, Blossom! Good for you to try new things; it keeps life interesting and fun :-) I hope that your granddaughter will bake it in her kiln! Thank you for sharing your clay experience with us!

      Have a nice day!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      This does look like a lot of fun, and I hope you'll see the project to til completion through firing and glazing, etc.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Nice hub Blossom. Making clay sculptures or pottery looks like a lot of fun. I always thought of giving it a try but never really have. you did a good job, thanks for sharing. How did you enjoy your time in PNG?

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 3 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      This does sound fun. Thanks for sharing Blossom.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Wow, Blossom, you have created a beautiful thing using clay! It makes me want to create something with clay, which I have never tried before. Thank you for taking us on your adventure with clay.

      Up and more and sharing

      God bless,

      Faith Reaper

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 3 years ago from Dubai

      Sounds like great fun, I must try it out. Never have done anything with clay. Great hub, voted up.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      Great job Blossom! Your "first" try turned out really well. I bet it'll look especially nice once it is fired.

      Years ago everyone, but me, was into ceramics and I still have a Persian cat my husband's grandmother made. Thanks for sharing.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I think i would try this. The local college offers this type of craft and the get-together would be fun! My sister Virgie joined a ceramic class and made a whole set of beautiful dishes. You make so many beautiful things, i enjoy reading your hubs. Thank you Blossom.

    • profile image

      Jane Arden 3 years ago

      This is great fun. I tried it when I was a youngster at secondary school and I still have the thing I created. I thought it was so ugly at the time (it was a face) but my Gran kept it. I hated it until I was older and then when she died it was returned and now it stands pride of place in the (spare room). Okay, I don't have the guts to inflict it on everyone by placing it in the lounge.

    • drmiddlebrook profile image

      Sallie B Middlebrook PhD 3 years ago from Texas, USA

      Sounds like a lot of fun BlossomSB. I try my hand, sometime, at inventing things, and I like to use modeling clay to make prototypes of my "prototypes." I find it very useful and fun to play with.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Frank Atanacio: Thank you, Frank. It was fun.

      kidscrafts: It wasn't so really beautiful, but I thought it might be good for growing a pot-plant. You're probably really good at this sort of thing.

      FlourishAnyway: Yes, I'm looking forward to seeing what it looks like then, but she never fires until she has the whole kiln filled, so I might need to wait a while.

      Jodah: Do give it a try, I'm sure you'd enjoy it. I loved PNG - the scenery and the people, but not the heat, I found that very difficult to cope with. Also usually being 12 hours from the nearest doctor with small children wasn't easy, although there was the sched.

      cam8510: Thank you for your comment, it was fun, especially as we were all such amateurs together.

      Faith Reaper: May God bless you, too. I hope you get the opportunity to try sometime, and that you enjoy it as much as I did.

      Vellur: It's such a basic thing to do when we think about it. I should think that people have been making things with clay almost since the world began. We get too sophisticated in this modern world.

      Tillsontitan: That Persian cat sounds fascinating, it will be very special. I can recommend your having a try sometime.

      always exploring: Do try! And as you write, the socializing aspect is fun, too. I could never see myself making a set of dishes, but it really is enjoyable. Thank you so much for your comments.

      Jane Arden: Yes, it's fun and the creations will keep forever and yours is probably not as ugly as you thought it was, but I know the feeling. We all have talents, but not all in the same direction. It was lovely that your Gran kept it. I keep some of my grandchildren's efforts, too, and some are really chunky.

      drmiddlebrook: Now that sounds like a really great way of doing things. It's creative, useful and very satisfying, I'm sure.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I did do this many years ago and loved it. I trimmed them, sanded, (broke a couple lol) baked and then painted and today I have none of it and no idea where it ever went. One was a lamp that looked like a warm morning heater with also a tiny light inside to make it look like a fire was burning! It is a fine feeling to accomplish such small things isn't it?

      Thanks for sharing, it is beautiful and it would look lovely in the midst of some flowers, wouldn't it?

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      This wonderful hub makes me want to pick some clay and try this...but I'm afraid I'm all thumbs with this art form. Kudos on the wonderful job you did with your piece.

    • profile image

      Alise- Evon 3 years ago

      Love the story about your little "watchmaker." How wonderful that you took the time to regain some child-like fun playing with clay. Love your finished bust, too!

    • TurtleDog profile image

      TurtleDog 3 years ago

      Love it! Voted up! Something I'd I'd love to try to do

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This project sounds like a lot of fun, Blossom. I love the finished result! I haven't used clay since childhood. I do create small items with polymer clay, which is enjoyable, but I'd love to use real clay.

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 3 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hello Blossom, I admire your adventurous spirit and non-stop creativity!

      I agree that working in clay is great fun and good therapy for life's stressors. Your finished form is lovely, and the ribbon trim adds to the graceful curves. Thank you for sharing. I look forward to your next project.

      My best,

      Cat :)

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Jackie Lynnley: Wow! What a great idea. Pity the results of all that creativity has disappeared.

      Genna East: Well, I thought I'd be all fingers, too. At least you can tell what it's supposed to be!

      Alise-Evon: Thank you. I wonder if you've ever tried this medium?

      TurtleDog: Oh, do then! It's really so satisfying - even when the result is not brilliant.

      AliciaC: It was great fun. I've never tried the polymer clay, so I really should do that one day, too. I'm wondering what you made with it and would love to know.

      cat on a soapbox: Thank you so much. Oh, dear! My next project? Not sure, I'll just have to wait and see what eventuates and then it might be a nice surprise.

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      I think you are hard on yourself, Blossom! The details on the bust are just lovely. I played a little bit with clay when I was an adolescent and I liked it. I didn't had the chance to try it since. But last Fall I experimented with blowing glass :-)

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 3 years ago from California

      I love your spirit--congratulations for exploring other parts of yourself--and try to always look at what you accomplish---you are the best!

    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 3 years ago from Reno NV

      What a great Hobby! Thank you for this well written look at your new hobby. Jamie

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      kidsdcrafts: Glass-blowing! Wow! Now that's impressive. I've really enjoyed watching it done on a few occasions, including on Murano in Venice. Do you have anything to show for the venture? That might make a good hub. It would be so interesting.

      AudreyHowitt: What a lovely comment! Thank you so much.

      jhamann: I'm not so sure it will continue as a full-blown hobby with all the other things I try to do. It may just remain as a fun time.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      kidsdcrafts: Glass-blowing! Wow! Now that's impressive. I've really enjoyed watching it done on a few occasions, including on Murano in Venice. Do you have anything to show for the venture? That might make a good hub. It would be so interesting.

      AudreyHowitt: What a lovely comment! Thank you so much.

      jhamann: I'm not so sure it will continue as a full-blown hobby with all the other things I try to do. It may just remain as a fun time.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      I admire your courage in taking on this new project. It does look like fun. I remember doing this when in high school art class. It is not as easy as you would think, but it is fun to create.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Blossom, with another skill under your belt, you can look back on your effort as definitely worth it. Thank you for sharing the value of trying.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      I used to love modelling clay at school; it was one of my favourite parts of art lessons. I now belong to an art group and one of my friends is brilliant at clay-modelling. She has done a 'head' of her husband and it's totally life-like. The beauty of doing it is that you can modify and amend as you go, so mistakes disappear, unless you chop a bit off of course!

      I used to live in the Sussex Weald and we used to go out and find pieces of clay, too, to do our own modelling at home.

      Lovely hub and well done you for completing the bust. Ann

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      In fact, my husband took some videos. I have to write a hub about that... as many other project.... it's in my pile of waiting to be published ;-) It was an interesting concept because some artists of the Ottawa area had an open house and in this case, they taught and help you through the different steps of blowing glass. There was a little girl around 8 or 10 years old... she blew so hard that it just broke the ball. So she had to start all over again and control her powerful lungs :-)

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      teaches12345: I did art and craft all the way through school and we did weaving and leatherwork as well as painting, but somehow we never did any clay work. I'm wondering if you still have any of your creations, they'd make good mementoes.

      MsDora: I once read a book, 'Try Anything Once' and it's a good motto, although there are some things I draw the line at and would not try. Thank you for your comments.

      annart: Now, that's really something! To be able to make a model that is so life-like. I'm sure I'd be the one to chop off the wrong bit. Yes, it somehow makes it more special, more back to our roots, too, I guess, to actually go out and get the clay first. Actually the process of removing any grit is quite time consuming, so it's much easier to buy it.

      kidscrafts: I'm so glad that other people have piles of ideas and projects waiting to be published, too. Maybe mine really will see the light of day some time in the future! It's that 'roundtoit' thing, isn't it? I love your story of the little girl and actually having some videos to go with your hub is terrific. Hope to see it soon.

    • WriterJanis profile image

      Janis 3 years ago from California

      This sounds like so much fun. You did a great job on your piece.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      WriterJanis: Thank you! It really was fun and quite absorbing.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      It is always fun to create something with one's own hands. Must be why I enjoyed working with wood so much. Great encouragement to a wonderful art form.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      aviannovice: It is! God created us to be creators, too. Working with wood is lovely. My Grandpa started off as a carpenter and he taught me to enjoy the feel and smell of different woods. I even made a few things long ago. Thank you for your comments.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      An Adventure in Clay Modelling sounds a great experience. The unique pleasure of creating a special feature is a wonderful moment for any individual.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      DDE: The joy of creating in a different medium is a special pleasure. Thank you for your comments.

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 3 years ago

      Blossom that is so Neat ! I guess as a side issue ,chainsaw carving has always interested me LOL, I think you're right though , seeing in 3 d is the utmost !....Nice work !.....Ed

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      ahorseback: Thank you so much, Ed. I've seen some really good chainsaw carving, but I don't think that's for me! Have you ever done any? It would be an interesting craft.

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 3 years ago

      No blossom ! I haven't , but I do want one of those huge bears for my screened in porch ! Um , how bout a clay one - ? About ten feet tall , LOL

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      It sounds like fun, but would weigh a ton, and how on earth could it be fired? (I'm still waiting for my granddaughter to fire mine in her kiln!)

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 3 years ago

      Well that is a beautiful piece of art !

    • LadyFiddler profile image

      Joanna Chandler 3 years ago from On planet Earth

      You've got to finish it dear i need to see the head next. LOL kidding. How are you?

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      ahorseback: Well! I wouldn't quite say that, considering the kind of work that my granddaughter turns out, but thank you!

      LadyFiddler: Well headless is a little like it's maker - sometimes rather air-brained! Or the other one: Use your head; there's nothing to it! I'm fine, thanks, or as well as an 'octogeranium' can be! Hope you're flourishing, too.

    • crayonbrains profile image

      crayonbrains 3 years ago from The World Is Mine !

      Wow ! Its beautiful ! This is something that I wanted t0 try since ages. Thanks for sharing this hub.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      crayonbrains: It's fun to share, especially when you write such nice things! It's not really all that beautiful, but I tried and enjoyed the experience.

    • LadyFiddler profile image

      Joanna Chandler 3 years ago from On planet Earth

      Hey Blossom how are you? just thought I'd drop by and say how dee do?

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      LadyFiddler: Hey to you, too! I'm plodding along, trying to find all my slides for photos for my latest book. It takes ages and they're not transferring well from my printer to my computer. Lugged the printer to the 'fixer', cost over $60 and he just said the bug must be in the computer! Grrr! Looking forward to meeting friends at the Keswick Convention in the hills near Melbourne tomorrow. I drive, they supply the picnic - nice arrangement. How are you?

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      Hi Blossom! I love the form that you made and it is do well done! Great proportions! Sometimes it takes a time or two before the artist comes out. So glad you had a great time don't this. Thanks for the tutorial and it looks fun !

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      suzettenaples: Thank you! Thank you for coming by. Yes, it was fun and worth the effort. I'm so glad that you like it. Sorry I've taken so long to reply, my computer has been away for some doctoring. It's a bit slow, but at least it's working again!

    • joedolphin88 profile image

      Joe 3 years ago from north miami FL

      I'd love to get a chance to do something like this but it is difficult with work and every day things that take up time.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      joedolphin88: It is! And even now I'm retired it's hard to find time, but when we can make the time it's well worth it. It's so satisfying to create, even when the results are not as perfect as we would hope. Thank you for your comment.

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