Discover The Hobby Of Clay Modeling At

The Hobby Of Clay Modeling

Clay modeling, also referred to as sculpting (pottery in my opinion is different – more below), is a popular hobby that involves shaping and manipulating clay to create three-dimensional objects.

It’s a versatile and creative hobby that allows individuals to express their artistic vision and explore various techniques and styles.

Here are a few things to consider before starting clay modeling as your hobby:

  • Materials and Tools: Clay modeling requires, well…clay. Different types of clay are available including earthenware, stoneware, and polymer clay. Each type has its own characteristics and firing requirements. Basic tools include sculpting tools, knives, brushes, and a work surface. I suggest, to get you started, you buy a block of modeling clay from a hobby store – the type that either dry over time in the air, or types you can finish in your oven (such as Fimo Clay made by Staedtler). Tools like wire, armatures, and texture tools may be used for more complex projects.
  • Techniques: There are numerous techniques that can be used in clay modeling. Some common techniques include hand-building, where clay is shaped by hand using techniques like pinching, coiling, and slab construction. Another technique is sculpting, where clay is shaped and carved to create detailed and intricate forms. Pottery wheel throwing is another popular technique for creating vessels and symmetrical forms.
  • Expressing Creativity: Clay modeling allows you to express your creativity and imagination. You can create sculptures, figurines, pots, vases, decorative items, or even abstract forms. The possibilities are endless, and you can experiment with different shapes, textures, and finishes to achieve the desired outcome.
  • Therapeutic Benefits: Clay modeling can be a therapeutic and relaxing activity. Working with clay can help reduce stress and anxiety, as it allows you to focus your mind and engage in a tactile and sensory experience. It can also improve hand-eye coordination, motor skills, and concentration.
  • Learning and Skill Development: Clay modeling is a hobby that offers continuous learning and skill development. As you practice, you’ll become more proficient in handling the clay, understanding its properties, and honing your sculpting techniques. You can also explore various surface treatments, glazing, and firing methods to enhance the final appearance of your creations.
  • Community and Collaboration: Engaging in clay modeling as a hobby can provide opportunities to connect with other artists and enthusiasts. Joining local pottery or sculpting classes, workshops, or art communities can help you share ideas, learn from others, and gain inspiration. Collaborating with fellow artists can lead to exciting projects and new creative perspectives.
  • Displaying and Sharing Your Work: Once you’ve completed your clay models, you can display them in your home, give them as gifts to friends and family, or even sell them at art shows or online platforms. Sharing your work with others can be fulfilling and may encourage further exploration of your hobby.

Clay modeling is a hobby that requires patience and practice. Don’t be afraid to experiment, learn from mistakes, and enjoy the journey of creating unique pieces of art.

This short video created by Staedtler gives you a very brief introduction to home-oven fired clay modeling:

Clay Modeling Is Great Hobby For Children

Clay modeling is a wonderful hobby for children, offering numerous benefits for their development and enjoyment. I enjoyed many (quite messy) hours making clay models as a child. Back then (in the 1970’s) I remember using a brand of modeling clay call ‘Das’ and guess what…it’s still available! (Discover Das Modeling Clay at

Here are some reasons why clay modeling is particularly well-suited for children:

  • Sensory Exploration: Clay modeling provides children with a tactile and sensory experience. They can feel the texture of the clay, manipulate it with their hands, and explore its malleability. This sensory engagement stimulates their senses and enhances their fine motor skills.
  • Creativity and Imagination: Clay modeling encourages children to express their creativity and imagination. They can shape the clay into any form they desire, from animals and objects to abstract sculptures. This freedom of expression fosters their artistic development and helps them think outside the box.
  • Fine Motor Skills: Working with clay promotes the development of fine motor skills in children. Pinching, rolling, shaping, and manipulating the clay improve their hand-eye coordination, finger strength, and dexterity. These skills are crucial for various activities, including writing, drawing, and everyday tasks.
  • Problem Solving: Clay modeling presents children with challenges and problem-solving opportunities. They need to think about how to transform their ideas into three-dimensional forms, plan their approach, and overcome obstacles along the way. This process enhances their critical thinking, spatial reasoning, and problem-solving abilities.
  • Patience and Concentration: Working with clay requires patience and concentration. Children learn to focus their attention on the task at hand, developing their ability to concentrate for longer periods. They also learn to be patient as they wait for the clay to dry or go through the firing process if using firing clay.
  • Emotional Expression and Relaxation: Clay modeling can serve as an outlet for emotional expression and relaxation. It allows children to express their emotions, reduce stress, and channel their energy into a creative and productive activity. It can be a therapeutic and calming experience, promoting emotional well-being.
  • Social Interaction and Collaboration: Clay modeling can be a social activity, providing opportunities for children to interact and collaborate with others. They can work alongside their peers, share ideas, give and receive feedback, and learn from one another. This fosters teamwork, communication skills, and the ability to appreciate different perspectives.
  • Pride and Self-Esteem: Seeing their creations take shape and completing clay models can boost children’s self-esteem and sense of accomplishment. They feel proud of their achievements, which, in turn, motivates them to continue exploring and improving their skills.

It’s important to provide children with non-toxic and age-appropriate clay and supervise them during the activity to ensure their safety. With proper guidance and encouragement, clay modeling can be a rewarding and educational hobby that ignites children’s creativity and nurtures their overall development.

Is Clay Modeling A Cheap Hobby?

As with the majority of hobbies, the cost of clay modeling as a hobby can vary depending on several factors, including the type of clay you use, the tools and equipment you need, and the scale and complexity of your projects.

Here are some aspects to consider regarding the expenses associated with clay modeling:

  • Clay: The cost of clay can vary depending on the type and quality. Air-dry clays and polymer clays tend to be more affordable compared to traditional firing clays like earthenware or stoneware. The price of clay is usually calculated per pound or kilogram, and it’s worth considering the quantity you require for your projects.
  • Tools and Equipment: Basic tools for clay modeling, such as sculpting tools, knives, and brushes, are relatively affordable and can be purchased as a beginner set. However, if you wish to expand your collection or invest in specialized tools, the costs can increase. Additionally, if you decide to work with a pottery wheel for throwing, it can be a more significant investment as it requires a wheel, bats, and other related equipment.
  • Firing: If you choose to work with clay that requires firing in a kiln, additional expenses may arise. Access to a kiln and firing services can be obtained through pottery studios, community centers, or by owning a kiln yourself. Firing costs are usually based on the size and quantity of your pieces, as well as the specific kiln and firing temperature required.
  • Glazes and Finishes: If you decide to add color and texture to your clay models using glazes, there will be additional expenses. Glazes come in a variety of colors and finishes and can be purchased in small jars or larger quantities. The cost of glazes depends on the brand, quality, and quantity needed for your projects.
  • Work Space: Creating a suitable work area for clay modeling may require some investment. You’ll need a clean and well-ventilated space with a table or workbench, storage for your tools and materials, and potentially additional equipment like a pottery wheel or kiln, depending on your chosen techniques.

It’s important to note that there are ways to minimize costs while engaging in clay modeling. For example, starting with a smaller set of tools and gradually expanding your collection, using air-dry or polymer clay instead of traditional firing clay, and seeking access to shared kilns and community studios can help reduce expenses.

Ultimately, the cost of clay modeling as a hobby can be tailored to fit your budget and preferences. You can start with basic materials and tools, and gradually invest in more specialized items as you progress and develop your skills.

Clay Modeling – Getting Started

Getting started with clay modeling as a hobby is an exciting journey that allows you to explore your creativity and learn new modeling/sculpting techniques.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you begin:

  • Gather Materials: Start by gathering the necessary materials. This includes clay (choose the type based on your preferences and project requirements), basic sculpting tools (such as sculpting knives, wire tools, and shaping tools), a work surface (such as a table or a dedicated pottery wheel), and any additional materials like texture tools or armatures if needed.
  • Choose a Project or Idea: Decide on the project or object you want to create. It can be something simple for beginners, like a small figurine or a decorative item, or a more complex sculpture if you feel confident. Having a clear idea or reference image will guide your creative process.
  • Prepare the Clay: If you are using clay that requires hydration, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to prepare it. Some clays need to be soaked in water or kneaded before use. Polymer clay usually requires conditioning by kneading until it becomes pliable.
  • Start Shaping: Begin by breaking off a small piece of clay and warming it up by kneading or rolling it in your hands. Gradually shape the clay to match your desired form. Use your fingers and sculpting tools to refine the details and textures as you progress. If necessary, refer to reference images or sketches to help you achieve the desired outcome.
  • Experiment with Techniques: As you gain confidence, explore different sculpting techniques. These can include pinching, coiling, slab construction, carving, and smoothing. Experiment with textures, patterns, and surface treatments to add depth and character to your creation.
  • Pay Attention to Proportions and Balance: Keep an eye on the proportions and balance of your sculpture as you work. Step back and evaluate your piece from different angles to ensure that it looks visually appealing and balanced.
  • Add Details: Once you’ve shaped the basic form, you can add more intricate details, such as facial features, texture, or decorative elements. Take your time and work carefully to achieve the desired level of detail.
  • Allow for Drying or Firing: Depending on the type of clay you are using, you may need to let your sculpture air dry or fire it in a kiln. Follow the specific instructions for your clay type to ensure proper drying or firing.
  • Finishing Touches: Once your sculpture has dried or been fired, you can apply finishes or coatings if desired. This can include painting, glazing, or adding additional decorative elements to enhance the appearance of your piece.

Clay modeling is a fun and continuous learning process, so don’t be discouraged if your first attempts are not perfect. Practice, experiment, and enjoy the journey as you develop your skills and explore the endless possibilities of clay as a medium.

Clay Modeling – Things You Can Make

When modeling with clay, you have virtually limitless possibilities for creating various objects, sculptures, and artistic pieces. Here are some common things you can make when working with clay:

  • Figurines and Sculptures: Clay is commonly used to create figurines and sculptures. You can sculpt human figures, animals, fantasy creatures, or any subject that inspires you. Clay allows for intricate details, textures, and expressive forms, giving life to your creations.
  • Pottery and Ceramics: Clay is a primary medium for pottery and ceramics. You can hand-build or use a potter’s wheel to create functional objects like bowls, plates, vases, cups, and mugs. These items can be decorated, glazed, and fired in a kiln to achieve a durable and finished ceramic piece.
  • Jewelry: Clay modeling is also popular for making jewelry. Polymer clay, in particular, is widely used to create earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and pendants. It can be shaped, textured, and combined with other materials like beads or wire to produce unique and wearable art.
  • Decorative Items: Clay modeling offers opportunities to create decorative items for your home or as gifts. You can make decorative tiles, wall hangings, candle holders, plant pots, or sculptures to adorn your living space. Clay’s versatility allows for various shapes, sizes, and surface treatments to match your desired aesthetic.
  • Miniatures and Dioramas: Clay is commonly employed to make miniatures and dioramas. You can create small-scale scenes, landscapes, or architectural models. These can range from miniature food items, dollhouse accessories, to detailed nature settings. The flexibility of clay enables you to add intricate details and textures, bringing your miniatures to life.
  • Masks and Props: Clay modeling is often used in mask-making and prop creation. Whether for theatrical purposes, cosplay, or artistic expression, clay allows you to sculpt masks, costume accessories, or props with personalized designs. Clay’s malleability and ability to hold intricate details make it suitable for these types of projects.
  • Mixed Media Art: Clay can be combined with other materials to create mixed media artworks. You can integrate clay with wood, metal, glass, fabric, or found objects to produce unique and innovative pieces of art. This fusion of materials can result in visually striking and tactile compositions.

These are just a few examples – the possibilities are vast! Clay modeling allows you to unleash your creativity, experiment with different techniques, and bring your ideas to life in three-dimensional form.

Don’t be afraid to explore new subjects, experiment with textures and colors, and push the boundaries of what can be achieved with clay.

Clay Modeling Is Good For You!

Clay modeling as a hobby offers several benefits for your mental health and overall well-being. Here are some reasons why engaging in clay modeling can be beneficial:

  • Stress Relief: Working with clay can serve as a stress-relieving activity. The tactile nature of clay and the repetitive motions involved in sculpting can help calm the mind and promote relaxation. It can provide a therapeutic outlet for releasing tension and pent-up emotions.
  • Mindfulness and Focus: Clay modeling requires concentration and focus, allowing you to immerse yourself in the present moment. As you mold and shape the clay, you become mindful of the sensations, textures, and details. This focused attention helps in shifting your focus away from worries or intrusive thoughts, promoting a sense of mindfulness and mental clarity.
  • Creative Expression: Clay modeling is a form of creative expression that allows you to bring your ideas and imagination to life. Engaging in creative activities has been shown to enhance self-esteem, boost mood, and provide a sense of accomplishment. Clay modeling provides a non-verbal medium to express emotions, ideas, and narratives that may be difficult to articulate verbally.
  • Sensory Stimulation: Working with clay engages multiple senses, including touch, sight, and sometimes even smell (depending on the type of clay used). This sensory stimulation can be pleasurable and can promote sensory integration, which is beneficial for relaxation and overall sensory well-being.
  • Problem Solving and Cognitive Skills: Clay modeling involves problem-solving skills as you figure out how to transform a lump of clay into a desired shape or form. It requires spatial awareness, planning, and critical thinking. Engaging in these cognitive processes can help improve your problem-solving abilities and boost cognitive skills.
  • Emotional Release and Self-Reflection: Clay modeling can provide a safe space for emotional release and self-reflection. As you work with clay, you may find that it becomes a medium for expressing and processing emotions, allowing for catharsis and self-exploration. It can serve as a tool for self-reflection, helping you gain insights into your thoughts and emotions.
  • Sense of Accomplishment and Pride: Completing a clay sculpture or project can give you a sense of accomplishment and pride. Seeing your creation take shape and witnessing the progress you’ve made can boost your self-confidence and provide a positive sense of achievement.
  • Community and Connection: Engaging in clay modeling can also provide opportunities for social interaction and community engagement. Joining pottery or clay modeling classes, workshops, or online communities allows you to connect with like-minded individuals, share experiences, learn from others, and foster a sense of belonging.

Clay modeling as a hobby can be a meditative, fulfilling, and enjoyable activity that promotes relaxation, creativity, and personal growth. It can provide a much-needed break from the demands of daily life and contribute to your overall mental well-being.

Different Types Of Modeling Clay And Their Uses

There are several types of modeling clay available, each with its own unique properties and uses. Here are some of the most common types of modeling clay:

  • Air-Dry Clay: Air-dry clay is a type of clay that dries and hardens when exposed to air over a period of time. It doesn’t require baking or firing in a kiln to cure. Air-dry clay is convenient to use, especially for beginners or those without access to a kiln. It’s available in different varieties, including self-hardening clays and paper-based clays. Air-dry clay is often used for sculpting, hand-building, and crafts. It can be painted or varnished once it has dried.
  • Polymer Clay: Polymer clay is a type of modeling clay that is made of synthetic materials, primarily PVC (polyvinyl chloride). It remains soft and pliable until it is cured in an oven at a specific temperature. Polymer clay comes in a wide range of colors and is known for its versatility and vibrant appearance. It can be used to create intricate details, jewelry, miniatures, and sculptures. Once cured, polymer clay becomes hard and durable. It can be sanded, polished, and painted.
  • Oil-Based Modeling Clay: Oil-based modeling clay, also known as plasticine or oil clay, is a non-drying clay that remains soft and malleable indefinitely. It is made from a combination of oils, waxes, pigments, and binders. Oil-based clay is easy to work with, as it can be sculpted and reshaped repeatedly without drying out. It is commonly used for prototyping, maquettes, and stop-motion animation due to its ability to hold fine details and maintain its shape.
  • Firing Clays (Earthenware, Stoneware, Porcelain): Firing clays are natural clays that require firing in a kiln to achieve hardness and durability. They are used for traditional pottery and ceramics. Firing clays come in various types, such as earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain, each with different properties and firing temperatures. These clays offer a wide range of possibilities for functional and decorative pottery, including vessels, sculptures, and tiles. Firing clays can be glazed and fired at specific temperatures to create a permanent ceramic finish.
  • Play-Doh and Modeling Dough: Play-Doh and modeling dough are non-hardening and non-drying clays that are primarily used for children’s play and creative activities. They are often made of a mixture of flour, water, salt, oil, and coloring agents. Play-Doh and modeling dough are soft, easy to manipulate, and come in a variety of colors. They are ideal for young children to explore their creativity and develop fine motor skills.

Each type of modeling clay has its own advantages and is suited for specific purposes. Consider the desired outcome, your level of expertise, and the project requirements when choosing the appropriate clay for your sculpting endeavors.

Where To Buy Modeling Clay

Modeling clay can be purchased from various sources, both online and offline. Here are some common places where you can buy modeling clay:

  • Art Supply Stores: Local art supply stores often carry a range of modeling clays in different brands and types. Visit your nearest art supply store and explore their clay section. The staff can assist you in finding the right type of clay and offer recommendations based on your needs and preferences.
  • Craft Stores: Craft stores, such as Michaels, Hobby Lobby, or Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores, typically have a dedicated section for modeling clay. They offer a variety of clay options, including air-dry clay, polymer clay, and oil-based modeling clays.
  • Online Retailers: Online shopping platforms provide a wide selection of modeling clay options. Websites like Amazon, Blick Art Materials, and Jerry’s Artarama offer an extensive range of clay brands, types, and colors. You can compare prices, read customer reviews, and have the clay conveniently delivered to your doorstep.
  • Specialty Clay Suppliers: Some suppliers specialize in clay and pottery materials. These suppliers often have a comprehensive range of clays, including specific firing clays used in ceramics. They may also offer additional pottery tools, kilns, and equipment. These suppliers can be found online or in specialized pottery supply stores.
  • Educational Suppliers: Suppliers that cater to educational institutions or schools often carry modeling clay for educational purposes. These clays are often non-toxic and suitable for children. You can check with local educational suppliers or browse their websites to find suitable modeling clay options.
  • Online Marketplaces: Apart from dedicated art supply stores, you can also explore online marketplaces like Etsy, where independent artists and sellers offer handmade or specialty modeling clays. This can be a great option if you are looking for unique or artisanal clay products.

When purchasing modeling clay, consider factors such as the type of clay you need (air-dry clay, polymer clay, etc.), the brand, the quantity required, and any specific characteristics you are seeking. Check the product descriptions and customer reviews to ensure you are selecting the right clay for your intended projects.

Availability and selection may vary depending on your location and the specific stores or suppliers in your area.

Clay Modeling Websites

There are several websites dedicated to clay modeling as a hobby, providing valuable resources, tutorials, inspiration, and communities for enthusiasts. Here are some of the best websites to explore:

  • This website offers a wealth of information on various aspects of ceramics, including clay modeling. It features articles, tutorials, videos, galleries, and forums that cover techniques, tips, and inspiration for both beginners and experienced artists.
  • While primarily focused on pottery, Pottery Making Info also covers clay modeling and sculpting techniques. It offers articles, videos, and tips on hand-building, modeling, and working with different clay types. The website provides guidance on both functional and artistic projects.
  • YouTube is a valuable resource for clay modeling tutorials and demonstrations. Many artists and educators share their techniques, tips, and project ideas through video tutorials. Some popular channels include Simon Leach, Ceramic Arts Daily, and Sculpture Geek, among others.
  • Online Art Communities: Online art communities and forums, such as WetCanvas ( and DeviantArt (, have dedicated sections for clay modeling and sculpture. These platforms allow artists to showcase their work, participate in discussions, and seek feedback from the community.
  • Social Media Platforms: Platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are great sources of inspiration for clay modeling. Many artists and studios share their clay sculptures and techniques, providing a visual feast of creativity. Searching relevant hashtags and following clay modeling accounts can offer a continuous stream of ideas and tips.

Exploring these websites and online platforms will provide you with a wealth of information, tutorials, inspiration, and opportunities to connect with other clay modeling enthusiasts.