What type of sculpting clay should you choose?
Get into Sculpting – What Type of Sculpting Clay Should You Choose?
Written by polymer clay jewelry
Sculpting clay for beginner you're new to sculpting, or want to try something a little different from your usual material, this will help you decide what sculpting clay type (oil based or water based), brand to source your materials, and characteristics of said types and brands that best suits your project's desired results.
On choosing the right material for small-scale sculptures
If you want to make small (several inches to a foot in length) figures and don't know whether to use an oil based clay (to stop it from hardening). or an air drying or kiln type clay, here are some expert-sourced suggestion:
Oil based clays are generally easier to work with. Wax is comparatively slow to work, and takes experience to use properly. Depending on the size of the project, water-based clays can be messy and dry out or crack too soon, unless you're using the water based clay in bulk for, say, making a life-sized human sculpture.
Water based clays are simply clay mixed with water. They are inexpensive but need to be covered when not in use or they will dry out. Their fast-drying properties are part of their appeal, however, as they don't require baking to harden into a resilient state. Water based clays are easily removed from a mold with a water sprayer, but can not be used with plastics, epoxies or polymers.
Advantages to water based clay: Water based clay is cheap compared to oil-based options, it works nicely for small projects, it is smoothed out easily and if kept sealed in plastic, it will stay moist and workable for months (check it occasionally and spritz a bit of water into the bag once a month or so). If you choose to use water based clay and store it for months at a time between work sessions, expect the clay to shrink about 1/20th or so of its original size per several months as it will slowly lose moisture.
If you were to use an oil based, sulfur-free clay (oil based clays are sulfur free), you could make a silicone rubber mold with it and then reuse the same clay.(Modeling clay can be melted and poured into an alginate mold.)
Ｗater based clay can be molded in the same ways as plasticene, but the difference is that plasticene can't be saved once you've achieved your desired model. Water based clays can be kiln-fired at any time once dry to maintain their shape.
After having worked with both, plasticene falters in comparison unless the project is a very small thin model too difficult to keep moist for weeks.
Modeling clay comparisons, suggestions and summary
Advantages to oil based clay: Best for beginners to start out using an oil based modeling clay as this modeling compound is non-crumbling and it doesn't cling to skin or room surfaces. Oil Based clay does not dry out, so you can take your time modeling with it, then simply cover it with a plastic bag or other protective covering when you want to take a break.