Sculpting expression in clay, part 1

Native American child sculpture ©Lori Kiplinger Pandy


One of the things I really love about water based clay is how soft and responsive it is. You can change the structure or the attitude very quickly. There is a trade off, of course. That is that it must be kept at just the right consistency. In the beginning it is buttery soft which means it builds up quickly but it also is easy to budge, smudge and sag. At this stage I am doing mostly adding of clay and refining of forms using a simple wooden tool. If you try to use loops or rakes too early you'll simply dig into the soft clay too much and muddy your structure and form. I tend to error on the side of harshness in the early stages of sculpting and then choose what to soften once it really starts to develop. In that way I feel that the strength of the forms remains truest, giving a solid and believable feeling to the work.

Native American child sculpture ©Lori Kiplinger Pandy

From this close up photo you can see the center line drawn onto the face. I will continue to draw horizontal and vertical centerlines throughout the working process and only remove them nearing completion. In this way I can continually gage whether or not the features are in the proper placement and proportion. 

Next I'll begin to really hone in on the feeling and attitude of this face and expression and decide how ornate I want to be with the hair, clothing and other embellishments.

Native American child sculpture ©Lori Kiplinger Pandy


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