Best types of sculpting clay for beginners

types of sculpting clay model made in sections

An alternative way of expressing yourself is to transfer your thoughts and feelings into clay.  By using craft clay that hardens, you can use your hands to form a tangible artifact that reflects what may be difficult to put into words. 

Because it originates from the earth, some artists feel closer to nature while creating things like vases, statues, figurines, or religious items.  Children enjoy learning how to use modeling clay because they can express themselves and get dirty at the same time.

There are various types of sculpting clay, but they all share a few important characteristics.  Moldable clay that hardens invites you to squish it, pound it, roll it, squeeze it, and caress it into shape.  Take out your frustrations when you pound the clay to create a bowl. Let your imagination take flight as you create a vase for the living room. What’s the best clay to use for sculpting? 

We’ve done a comparison so you can decide exactly what clay to use for sculpting your next project.

Sculpey-III-S3-30-1-Oven-Bake-Clay-SamplerSculpey III Polymer Clay Color Sampler, Multicolor 

A great introduction to clay starts with a simple package of baking modeling clay.  It’s a type of craft clay that hardens when it’s baked.

Mold it, pound it, and carve it at room temperature.  When the sculpting is done, bake it on a cookie sheet. It stays in its final solid state forever. 

With 44 vibrant colors, kids and adults can enjoy making jewelry, holiday knick knacks, figurines, bowls, vases, and more.  Blend the colors together for a completely unique creation.  It’s unscented, so it won’t smell strange when baking.

Get the latest price for Sculpey III Polymer Clay Color Sampler, Multicolor here…

super sculpey best clay to use for sculptingSculpey Super Sculpturing Compound 1 lb. box, Beige

For artists who sculpt dolls or flesh-colored sculptures, color is important. 

This semi-transparent clay has a soft and smooth ceramic appearance after it’s baked. 

It’s soft and pliable at room temperature and retains shape well. Mosaic pieces, such as fairy or butterfly wings, come out beautifully.  

Bake it once (275*F is the norm) for approximately 15 minutes per ¼ inch of clay. For thin pieces like wings, a lower temperature of 130*F and 10 minutes will suffice. 

After baking, it becomes permanently hardened. When cooled, it can be drilled, sanded, or carved. Grab a brush to paint features and details with ink or water-based acrylics.

Get the latest price for Sculpey Super Sculpturing Compound here…

Polyform Sculpey Original Polymer Clay, 1.75-Pound, White

An engaging way to occupy kids’ minds (and hands) on a rainy day is to let them get creative with some baking modeling clay.

Motivate their imagination as they learn to roll, squeeze, and mold it into whatever they please. It’s malleable and ready to shape out of the box.

It feels like ceramic clay but won’t dry out. Smaller pieces are easily made. Create earrings, necklaces, light switches, and holiday ornaments quickly.

Create some unique scrapbooking embellishments to impress your friends. It also works extremely well with molds for replica casting.

After it’s in the desired shape, bake it about 20 minutes per ½ inch of clay until it begins to brown. This closes the pores and increases its durability. Let it cool at room temperature. Then it’s ready to be sanded, drilled, and carved. Water-based acrylics adhere nicely for the perfect finishing touches.

Get the latest price for Polyform Sculpey Original Polymer Clay here…

Apoxie-Sculpt-1-Lb.-WhiteApoxie Sculpt 1 Lb. White

A different synthetic type of sculpting clay is one that needs mixing. One part is powdered clay, the other is liquid.

Mix the two to a putty-like consistency. It feels similar to play-do. Once it’s mixed, there is a two- to three-hour window of sculpting time before it begins to harden.

After you’re done shaping it, leave at room temperature to cure overnight. Then it’s ready for drilling, sanding, and carving.

It can adhere to almost any clean surface including glass, stone, plastic, and resin. Use it to repair broken figurines and statues. Small cracks in aquariums can be patched up with a bit of this clay. Restore an antique or family heirloom with professional results.

As an epoxy, it’s waterproof and extremely resilient. Sanding it is easy. Wet your finger with soapy water, and start rubbing.

Get the finish you want, and then paint it with acrylics. A clear glaze can be used to bring out the shine.

Get the latest price for Apoxie Sculpt 1 Lb. White here…

Monster-Clay-Premium-Grade-Modeling-ClayMonster Clay Premium Grade Modeling Clay (5lb)

For realistic facial expressions of humans or monsters, this non-toxic oil/wax-based sculpting clay is great for an original creation or making a life cast.

It’s formulated for low-melt temperatures and has an elastic quality that feels like warm taffy. When it cools, its firmness holds very fine details to look more realistic. It has a low-tack feel and doesn’t stick to carving tools or fingers.

Sculpting with monster clay is economical since it can be repeatedly melted and reused. It’s composed of food-grade components, sulfur free, and melts to a pourable consistency. It comes in a large block with a reusable oven-safe container. While it can be carved at room temperature, it’s easier when warmed up.

Cut off a workable chunk, and start carving. For casting, just melt it, pour it, and let it dry. Create the best mask in the neighborhood for Halloween by sculpting it with monster clay.

Get the latest price for Monster Clay Premium Grade Modeling Clay

types of sculpting clay super sculpey model
Made from Super Sculpey

Which are best types of sculpting clay for your models?

Find the best clay to use for sculpting that works for your particular projects. If you don’t know how to use modeling clay, try one of the inexpensive types of sculpting clay that let you start small.

The Sculpey III Polymer Clay Color Sampler is a beginners baking modeling clay package with a variety of colors. It’s easy to mold and create colorful projects.  Sculpey is a superb brand that I use for my sculpting projects and I really cannot fault this clay.  Any of the Sculpey clays will give you great results.

If repairs or restoring is what you’re looking to do, try the Apoxie Sculpt craft clay that hardens overnight. Fix chips and cracks in porcelain dolls, fish bowls, and ceramics.

Depending on the type of projects you plan on creating will determine the type of sculpting clay you’ll need. No matter what you choose, you’ll enjoy the fun that comes with playing with clay. Plus you can show off all of your unique homemade creations to friends and family.

DY3S-19-Piece-Pottery-clay-ToolsCheck out some great tool kits for clay sculpting here…