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How to make Polymer Clay Figurines

Updated on June 5, 2011

Figurines the easy way.... Step by Step instructions to make clay figurine depicted in picture

I have been working with sculpey polymer clay for many years. Over the years I have learned different techniques on sculpting. I have read many articles on the subject. I still to this day research ways to sculpt polymer clay easier and look for better ways to paint polymer clay. So this article is written from my perspective but I suggest reading many articles on the subject because there are so many artistic people out there. I am going to break down making a polymer clay figurine below. I will use large pictures along with instructions for you to follow.

Things need for this project:

1. Sculpey oven bake polymer clay (I lately prefer Terra Cotta over the white sculpey)

2. A few clay sculpting tools

3. A glass Casserole dish for baking ( use one you can dedicate to baking sculpey only)

3. Sculpey Bake & Bond Glue

4. Acrylic paints for finishing touch

5. various size artist paintbrushes

I will have a list of pricing for each item on Amazon at the end of this article for you to purchase.

How to make a polymer clay figurine

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We will start with the feet first. Roll up two polymer clay balls keeping the size for each the same.

See...... your on your way already........ that was easy right?

Making the shoes/feet/boots

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Make a decision of what style footwear you want your clay dude to be wearing before you get started. If you have a hard time visualizing a pair of shoes or boots go to google and type in boots and hit the images tab. Then browse through the images until you find an image that you want to replicate and use this picture as a guide to help you form your boots.

If you look at the picture of the boots I have formed you'll see that I have left a nub of clay on top of each.

The reason I do this is to help attach the body of my clay dude to the feet later.

Okay you should have a set of shoes of some sort now.

The next step is to preheat your oven to 275 degrees wait until it gets up to temperature before you bake your shoes.

I use a small glass casserole dish when I bake my clay. Make sure you use a baking dish that you can dedicate to baking clay only.

Okay the oven is preheated set the timer to 15 minutes and place your shoes in the oven.

Once done set aside and let cool.

You may be wondering why I would start at the feet and not the whole figurine at once. A few reasons why I have learned to do it in this order.

1. If you create and bake the feet first you clay dude is sure to stay standing once you complete the rest of him and bake later. That's the great thing about sculpey you bake and rebake each portion of your figurine. I have learned this by looking in the oven and seeing my creation that I spent hours on topple over on unstable footing. (curses)

2. Another reason is to create great looking footwear and focus on just one part of your figurine at a time

3. There is nothing more irritating then making a part of your figurine to perfection then move to another part of the figurines anatomy and you accidentally mess up the first part that's why baking portions of your work so as not to ruin all your hard work I believe works best.

Okay you should now have a set of footwear set aside to cool.

On to the next step. This is fun right?

Next is to make your figurines head

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Take a piece of clay about 1" x 2" in size. Roll into a cylinder. You can always add a hat later if desired. I generally set the eye sockets then the eyebrows. Once those are roughed in I pull clay down between the eyebrows to start forming the nose. Once I have a nub for a nose roughed in I work on forming the cheeks by pulling clay down away from eye sockets then work around nose by pulling clay towards the cheek. I rough in a moustache then pull more clay up towards the cheeks. Depending on how much you want the cheeks to be emphasized you can add clay if not enough clay is able to be pulled to make nice big round cheeks. Smooth over clay if added more then work on roughing in moustache more. Once moustache is roughed in I use my clay tool and make a small mouth by pulling clay up so I have a nice round bottom lip. The top lip on most of my figurines are are usually covered by a moustache. I love moustaches and beards on my little dudes they look cool that way. If you look at the picture I usually leave a lot of exta clay for a neck it makes it easier to attach to the body that way and stand up min baking dish. Keep working on all areas until you get the desired effect add clay if needed. I usually wait until last to use my clay tool to carve in hair and moustache detail. If you have not placed a hat on your little dude now is a good time. If I add a hat later I always use a small bit of sculpey bond glue to help adhere hat to the head. This way when you bake the head the hat will be secured well when adding a piece of clay to an already formed piece whether it is already baked or not is a good idea. Now I preheat oven and bake the head at 275 degrees for 15 minutes. Refer to sculpey directions on the box. Okay set the head aside and let cool once baked.

On to the torso we almost have a complete figure now very cool.

Making your figurines body and attaching head and feet

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Okay now to start the body portion of your little dude. Roll out two pieces of clay of the same size for your legs. Roll out another larger piece of clay for the mid body portion. Take the leg pieces and attach them to the mid size body portion by rubbing and working clay so legs are firmly attached. Now take you boots/shoes squeeze some sculpey bake and bond glue on the nub portions of the shoes. Then mold the legs onto the nubs of the shoes. Now your little dude should stand upright due to the shoes being prebaked. Okay now dig out a receiving hole in the upper portion of your body for the neck of the prebaked head to slide into. Place some sculpey Bake and Bond glue inside receive hole. Now slide neck of prebaked head into the whole and work clay from body to secure the neck. Now roll out two equal logs of clay for the arms. Attach the arms to the upper body by working the clay to attach. Now work on your detail of your figure. Fine tune areas you believe need them. I generally have a hard time with fingers and hands so I placed my little dudes hands into his pockets. Okay keep in mind at this point you can bake your little dude and add clay to areas later with Sculpey Bake and Bond if desired. Or you can work on him to perfection then bake. I prefer baking then adding details like jackets and pockets after baked then I don't mess up my progress and ruin an area while working on another. That's why I love the Sculpey Bake and Bond glue its nice to add or do repairs later with new clay.

Okay bake you little dude. He should stay standing while baking because of the prebaked shoes being so sturdy.

Okay now you can add and fine tune then bake again if needed.

We will move on to priming and painting you little dude now.

Sanding and priming your figurine

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Okay important thing to do is carve and sand areas that need to be smoothed out before you prime. Make sure to spend the proper time here paint makes or breaks your little dudes appearance for sure. Okay once you are satisfied you can prime your little dude. I use a spray acrylic grey primer that I purchased at Michaels Crafts. Make sure to take outside or in well ventilated area to prime. Spray the primer evenly all over your little dude. Then let dry and prime again if needed. Now you don't have to prime at all if you don't want too. You can just paint with acrylic paints and skip priming if you prefer. I always prime my little dudes it gives a better base to brush/airbrush acrylic paints on.

Okay now off to apply final paint to our little dudes.

Painting your figurine

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I use Acrylic artist paints to brush and airbrush colors on. Have fun painting your little clay creation. Keep your eye out for more step by step projects from Solo Santa Clay Creations.

Back of painted Figurine

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    • profile image

      cheryl-adamszanewicz 4 years ago

      I am new at polymer clay art. I was asked by my daughter to make her cake topper for her wedding cake soooo of course I said sure. I am an artist and crafty but this has me stumped. I bought Sculpy clay at Michaels today and opened one pk.... it is so hard I don't see how you can 'mold it'....PLEASE give me a few tips for my bride and groom...and how to soften this material.

    • nosajreef lm profile image
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      nosajreef lm 5 years ago

      @thimbletowne: I personally would not go more then 5 or 6" tall. They are much more stable with a rolled up aluminum foil armatures.....I find using armatures then wrapping clay around the armature then baking as you go along makes much easier to handle that way you don't ruin what you create

    • profile image

      thimbletowne 5 years ago

      I love this figurine. Great tips, also. How tall can a polymer clay figurine be without effecting the stability or the baking process?

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      RuthCoffee 6 years ago

      Great tutorial...love this little guy!

    • Laniann profile image

      Laniann 6 years ago

      Very well done step-by-step instructions. I believe anyone will be able to make a clay figurine from your directions. Blessed by a Squid Angel.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 6 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      great art work. thanks for your step by step instruction.

    • chefkeem profile image

      Achim Thiemermann 6 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Thanks for this great little tutorial. Love it! :)

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 6 years ago

      Oh my, how creative this is -- don't know that many people who can say they are so creative with polymer clay -- love the dude.

    • nosajreef lm profile image
      Author

      nosajreef lm 6 years ago

      @Tempus: Thank you. I am actually in limbo with the new creations at the moment. My last creation was an angel for my wifes friend who lost her daughter a few years back. That one I spent a lot of time on due to how special it needed to be.

    • profile image

      Tempus 6 years ago

      Very very impressed. To create your figurine from just a lump of polymer clay takes talent and ability. Sadly it's the kind of talent that eludes me. Love to see another completed figure.

    • debbieann19 profile image

      debbieann19 6 years ago

      WOW great lens... i love the clay dude i will definitely have to try my hand at making one...

    • nosajreef lm profile image
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      nosajreef lm 6 years ago

      @anonymous: thanks, it looks like I have a ways to go to catch up to you your standing up pretty high on the squid totum pole congratulations I am becoming an addict pretty quick myself

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      You had me smiling here! I love your clay dude and enjoyed your detailed tutorial. I also love to work with polymer clay. Well done!

    • nosajreef lm profile image
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      nosajreef lm 6 years ago

      @WildFacesGallery: Thank you much appreciated

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 6 years ago from Iowa

      You really did an excellent job with this tutorial. Nicely done! And you're figurines are awesome!