Clay Heart Sculpture Tutorial
Ellen Rundle shares her technique of using foam molds to create clay heart sculptures. This technique can be used to create other shapes as well – the possibilities are endless!
The foam heart pictured was made from a single block, carved with the Pro 6 Inch Hot Knife. The idea was to keep symmetry in mind and have a nice rounded surface for the front yet flat on the back. The heart is covered with Foam Coat to provide a nice release for the clay.
After your heart shape is carved and coated with Foam Coat, roll a slab of clay with a rolling pin or slab roller approximately 3/8 inch thick. The clay must be soft enough to bend over the heart shape as shown without cracking. I use High-Fire Stoneware, but a variety of other clays may be used.
Turn shape over and smooth, pushing and pinching to cover the entire shape. Trim where necessary and add lumps or coils of clay to reinforce any thin areas too. This you will to continue as needed during your project to ensure strength to your piece.
Wait for the clay to turn leather hard. Cut out oval shape on the back. Wait for the clay to dry even further, then slit the heart in two pieces and remove the foam form. Repair any unwanted cracks.
Clay must be firm enough to stand on its own at this point without sagging. Wrap the cut area with a moist strip of cloth and cover for a few minutes to bring back a bit of moisture just to that area.
Score and join the two halves. Again, add lumps or coils of clay to reinforce the joint. Make two holes in back for the hanging wire.
To make a clay flower, flatten a long coil and cut a scallop shape from it. Roll the coil up and fashion it as you go. Cut the excess from the bottom before you join it to the flower.
Join flower to heart, putting your fingers inside the heart to securely push the pieces together. Add leaves.
Add ribbon pieces and carve message into it. (Best to plan the letter spacing on a piece of paper first!) Glaze and then fire according to your clay’s specifications.