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Best Clay for Sculpting: Complete Buyer’s Guide

best clay for sculpting

Would you like to make amazing clay sculptures? If the answer is yes, then you need a few things. Many if not all of you believe that skills and knowledge are the only things needed. This isn’t completely true. I have been making pottery and sculptures my entire life and I believe that there are 4 things needed for an amazing result. Skills and knowledge are two of them and essential. But the best clay for sculpting and tools are equally important. Without these two, I can’t even make a masterpiece.

Got no time to read? Here are our best picks and why we picked them.

Amco No. 25 White Art Clay

AMACO AMA46318R Air Dry Clay, 25 lbs. , White (Color may vary)

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  • Great for small sculptures that you want to air dry.
  • Easy to work with.
  • Huge package
  • Extremely versatile.

Aves Waterproof Air Dry Clay

Aves Apoxie Sculpt Waterproof Air Dry Clay for Sculpting & Repairs, A 2 Part Epoxy Putty Sculpting Clay That Adheres to All Surfaces & is Self Hardening, 1 lb, Black

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  • Great adhesion.
  • Can make amazing sculptures without a kiln.
  • Waterproof.
AMACO Darice Stonex Clay

AMACO Darice STONEX Clay 5 LB AIR Dry White
 

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  • Great for home artists.
  • Easy to work with.
  • Most decoration options are supported.
Monster Clay Premium Modeling Clay

Monster Clay Premium Grade Modeling Clay (4.5lb)

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  • Great for beginner to advanced artists.
  • Comes with an oven-safe container for easy use.
  • Great color.
Aurora Modeling Clay

Chavant NSP Medium - 2 Lbs. Professional Oil Based Sulfur Free Sculpting Clay- Brown (2 lb Brick)
 

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  • Water based formula.
  • Great for professional use.
  • Has a wide range of applications.

This brings me to the point of this article. Which clay made specifically for sculptures is the best. As some of you may know, there are countless products out there. That’s why I have decided to test many of them and present you with the list of the best options. Now you can easily find clay that is just right for this purpose and focus your attention on more important things, like making a sculpture that will become a masterpiece.

This is far from an easy task. Each product is different and each one comes with pros and cons that make it suitable for a specific type of artist. After testing and making 7 different sculptures, I am confident to reveal the results of all 7 options. Let’s see together what we can end up with.
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Amaco No. 25 White Art Clay – Best polymer clay for sculpting

AMACO AMA46318R Air Dry Clay, 25 lbs. , White (Color may vary)

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The polymer clay comes with versatile applications including small sculptures.

The product here comes in a large package. I got 25 pounds of the polymer clay in white color. Keep in mind that the color may vary. The next time I ordered the clay, I got a beige package which isn’t something I prefer. On the other hand, the clay can sit the whole night in the workshop and it will still stay wet and usable.

This clay can be air-dried. I personally prefer using a kiln and I do have one, but for smaller applications and making small sculptures, a kiln isn’t needed. Even the manufacturer recommends this and I agree with the claim. The end result is still nice and satisfactory. If you want to make small sculptures, don’t forget that the air-drying time is up to 3-4 days.

As you can see I will recommend this clay for sculptures, especially smaller ones. It is a decent choice for beginners as well. But, I also used it for pottery and several other applications. The results were above average. Overall, I am satisfied with this product and I would like to use it again.

Who this is for: The clay is the best option for artists who want to make small sculptures and air dry them. It can be a decent choice for those who want to use the same clay for sculptures, pottery, and other purposes. Keep in mind that you can make it waterproof with proper sealing.

Why I like it: I like it due to three main reasons. The clay comes in a massive package, it is easy to work with and it is extremely versatile. It can be one product that fits us all.

Also interesting: Firing clay without a kiln at home.


Aves Waterproof Air Dry Clay for Sculpting – Best sculpting clay for beginners

Aves Apoxie Sculpt Waterproof Air Dry Clay for Sculpting & Repairs, A 2 Part Epoxy Putty Sculpting Clay That Adheres to All Surfaces & is Self Hardening, 1 lb, Black

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Clay with added adhesive for more versatility and simplicity makes it the best for beginners and those who want to make a sculpture easily.

This particular clay is a bit different than any other on my list. Yes, it does come in a small package, 1 pound each, but the applications are impressive. One of the main characteristics of this clay is the presence of adhesive which has been added during the manufacturing process. It will start with the drying process as soon as it comes in contact with air. If you use this clay, work fast. Anyway, the adhesive will speed up the drying process, obviously. This means that an artist doesn’t need an oven or a kiln which is the main reason why I recommend it to all beginners.

Another important thing to mention is the versatility or better said functionality. The clay is advertised as ‘’duct tape of sculpturing compounds’’ and I like it. What this means is that a user can use the clay to fix a broken thing or almost anything else. You do get clay visible of course, which limits the usability. However, I like the fact that the clay can be used to make a masterpiece from a broken thing. For example, you can mix it with a broken table and make a piece of art. Never forget that art is everywhere around us.

The last thing I can add here is that sculptures are reasonably strong. Due to the small packaging, I made a small sculpture so I was able to sand it down only. There were no cracks or shipping of any kind which I like, as mentioned at the beginning. The bottom line is that the sculptures will last and they will be waterproof.

Who this is for: Beginners who want to make waterproof sculptures or fix an item with waterproof and strong clay in no time using basic methods and only the things they already have.

Why I like it: I like the adhesive feature which allows me to make a complete sculpture without the use of a kiln. I also liked the fact the clay will adhere to almost anything!

Also interesting: Best air dry clay.


AMACO Darice STONEX Clay – Best clay for sculpting at home

AMACO Darice STONEX Clay 5 LB AIR Dry White
 

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AMACO Darice STONEX Clay is made for simplicity and durability at the same time with the added style-focused advantage.

The AMACO Darice STONEX Clay comes in white color and I got 5 pounds of the clay. Keep in mind that the listing says 3 pounds which is a mistake. Take a look at the weight on the packaging photo included! Anyway, clay has one advantage I personally really like. It is white and smooth which helped me make some sculptures that look more elegant than almost anything else. That’s why I believe that clay will be great for home artists who want to impress someone within days.

Another reason why I believe this is the best clay for use at home is the hardening process. It can be air-dried and there is no need to use an oven or anything similar. I added a small amount of water while working because it started hardening before I was finished. On the other hand, I did invest a lot of time into making a sculpture from this clay.

When it comes to decorations and painting the sculptures, there are no limits. Any sculpture can be decorated using temperas and ordinary school paints. This is ideal for home artists, as I have stated. But, the clay can be decorated using liquid or acrylic crayons. I used acrylic and the results were amazing. On the other side, there were no damages or any imperfections on the sculpture.

Who this is for: The clay is designed for home artists who want white, elegant, and easy to work with clay that can be easily decorated. Almost all options for decorations are supported.

Why I like it: I like the elegant factor that helped me make some of the most stylish sculptures of all time. I also liked the overall quality and the satisfaction while working with this particular clay.

Also interesting: Stages of Clay.


Monster Clay Premium Grade Modeling Clay – Best sculpting clay for action figures

Monster Clay Premium Grade Modeling Clay (4.5lb)

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Clay was designed for making some of the best action figures with high plasticity and sulfur-free advantage.

This isn’t clay designed for all artists out there, keep that in mind! It is made for artists who like making action figures. I am one of them so I had to test this clay as soon as I could. There are a few things I must mention first. The clay comes without any sulfur and it offers high plasticity which is essential for this specific application. It is oil-based and comes in brown color. Yes, you can make color the action figure once you are done and customize it precisely as you like.

The premium-grade is visible and the clay works perfectly for any type of action figurine I wanted to make. Inside I got a medium clay portion which helped me make different parts of the figures and also different items in general. All of the portions feature the same base and the same color which in my case was obvious.

The next main thing is the oven-safe container. It is a perfect advantage for all beginners and all who want to make action figures while keeping the cost as low as possible. It certainly isn’t something professionals will appreciate, but it is something had to mention.

Who this is for: It is for all artists and users (beginners, intermediate, and experts) who want to make amazing action figures in no time and bake them in the oven using an oven-safe container.

Why I like it: I like the plasticity and the oven-safe container. The color is great as well and working with this clay is as easy as it gets. There is no easier alternative out there.

Also interesting: What is clay.


Aurora Modeling Clay – Best clay for sculpting small figures

Modeling Clay - Sculpting and Molding Premium Air Dry Clay (25 lb)

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Professional clay that you have seen in many movies already and now you can use it.

Once again, I must present a clay that isn’t ordinary or generic. It is honestly one of the most versatile and most appealing options out there. First of all, the Pro-Grade WED is a professional clay, as you can see. It has been used in studios for special effects. That’s why i believe you have seen this clay in some of the movies that featured it. In addition, the clay is easy to work with and it is water-based. It is even safe for kids.

Slow drying can be another advantage, especially for beginners and artists who work slowly. One package gets you 25 pounds and considering the usability, making small figures from it is great. You can make a lot of figures and you will have time to shape each one precisely as you like. Also, it can be used for taxidermy, clay art, or even building accurate replicas. This is high-quality clay.

One thing I must mention is that the clay here is made to be air-dried only. In other words, it cannot be used in kilns or ovens. If you do, the sculpture will crack and you can ruin the complete piece within minutes. Except for this, the clay is versatile and can be used for making almost anything.

Who this is for: It is for intermediate and professional users who want to make small figures in large numbers and let them air dry. It can be used for making sculptures for videos and movies as well[1]https://www.britannica.com/art/sculpture.

Why I like it: I like a few things here. I like the fact it can be used for professional applications and I like the massive package that is included. Last but not least, I like the water-based formula which makes it safe for children.


Chavant NSP Medium

Chavant NSP Medium - 2 Lbs. Professional Oil Based Sulfur Free Sculpting Clay- Brown (2 lb Brick)
 

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2 pounds of non-drying solution that can be used countless times and can be paired with silicone.

Chavant NSP is brown sculpting clay that won’t dry. It can be reused as many times as needed. I reused it 5 times and I always got the same result. Another thing I noticed is that the clay is advertised as plasteline and comes in a brown color that is decent but not special. One package is 2 pounds heavy which makes it ideal for small sculptures and smaller applications in general.

I used it with silicone and there were no issues. Don’t forget that silicone will become rubber-like when dry. Also, it may be an issue if you are planning to reuse the clay. In that case scenario, you need to melt it and use it again.

Other things I can mention and explain regarding this clay is that it is a sulfur-free product and it comes at a price that isn’t the most affordable out there. Yes, it is easy to work with but it is designed for special purposes and a specific type of user. In addition, this is oil-based clay.

Who this is for: Chavant NSP is designed for users who will make sculptures from it (small ones) and melt them after some period of time so they can reuse the clay.

Why I like it: I like the oil base and the fact it can be used with silicone. There is no sulfur here which is another thing I like.

 


Super Sculpey – Best clay for sculpting figures

Super Sculpey Medium® Gray, Premium, Non Toxic, Medium firmness, Sculpting Modeling Polymer clay, Oven Bake Clay, 1 pound bar. Perfect for all advanced sculptors, model makers and movie studios.

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Clay immune to chipping and shattering with a semi-translucent finish and ceramic-like finish.

The first clay on this list is the one I like the most, which should be obvious by now. There are a few reasons for that. The first one is the ceramic-like finish. Thanks to this, a sculpture looks more realistic and more professional[2]https://dbp.theatredance.utexas.edu/content/sculptorclay. I was able to make some of the best sculptures in my life using this clay only. An interesting fact is that this feature or advantage doesn’t make working with the clay harder or more time-consuming. Thanks to this, several of my colleagues have been using this clay for quite some time.

Another thing I noticed is the semi-translucent finish. This is something that will be visible after baking and it makes a small amount of glow that can be seen all the time. This is ideal when making a sculpture of a man or anything that should mimic the human skin. In addition, I add colors to get the perfect hue of the human skin. It is a complex mixture and mistakes are common, but the sculpture looks far more realistic.

Last but not least important is how easy it is to work with this clay once baking is done. It won’t chip or shatter almost regardless of what you are doing to your sculpture. I was able to sand, drill and even carve some of the sculptures made from this clay and there were no accidents. Honestly, chipping is the biggest issue for me and something I always want to avoid at any cost. It can ruin my sculpture and require hours to repair small damage.

Who this is for: Super Sculpey clay is a perfect choice for all who want to make strong, durable sculptures that are going to last for a long period of time. It is also ideal for artists who want to shape the sculptures easily and make them extremely realistic.

Why I like it: I like it thanks to the semi-translucent finish and also the ceramic-like advantage. Of course, I really like the ability to work with the sculpture without the risk of chipping or shattering after baking.

Also interesting: Types of Clay.


Best clay for sculpting — Buyer’s guide

different clays dry differently

In this section, I will answer the most common and the most important questions you may have. The goal is to help you find the best clay for your specific purpose as a professional and avoid any mistakes.

How to choose the best clay for sculpting?

There are a few things you need to consider here. First of all, look at the size of the package so you can have enough cay for your sculpture. Then look at the drying method. Some clays can be air-dried only. If you want to use a kiln or an oven, these are not ideal for you. Last, look at the clays that won’t chip or shatter once the sculpture is dry.

How to use natural clay for sculpting?

The clay needs to be reasonably wet so it can be worked with. If it is too dry, add some water (for water-based clays). Shape it as you like and adjust the overall design. Dry the sculpture and you are done. This is the most essential process.

How to make an armature for clay figure sculpting?

Make all the pieces of the sculpture from the wire. They must be smaller than the actual sculpture you are planning to make. Connect all the pieces and make sure they are strong and they cannot move. You should get something like a human skeleton. Now you are ready to add clay to the armature and make your sculpture.

How to make clay for sculpting?

You can make polymer at home if you have certain ingredients. You will need Elmer’s glue and cornstarch that will be cooked together. Once done, you will have a polymer that can be used for making sculptures. It will air dry by itself.

What supplies do I need for polymer clay sculpting?

You will need a ruler, craft knife, blade set, acrylic roller, playing cards, and pin drill in order to make amazing sculptures. If you don’t have some of these tools, be free to improvise[3]https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-455/s2017/124/sculptmotion-analyzing-the-skill-of-clay-sculpting/.

What clay to use for sculpting (types)?

There are over 11 different types of clay that can be used for this purpose. However, I personally recommend water-based, oil-based, and ceramic clay. In addition, you can use dough clay and paper clay but these are not as appealing for me as the first options.


Conclusion

best clay for sculpting

I hope you liked this tutorial and you are ready to start making your new sculpture using one of the clays I have presented to you above. Please, share your opinion with me in the comment section, ask if you have any questions, or ask me for a solution if you have a problem. I am always here to help you.