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Modelling clay is an other hobby of mine and totally different from making embroideries or dolls. You also need totally different materials, tools and aids. But the hobbies go well together.

There are many ways working with clay. My field of interest is to make small objects and portrait models. You can use various sorts of clay in different colors, coarse or fine textured. To make a larger object it is important that the inside is hollow. Firing the object it expands and air might come out. When the air remains trapped the object will burst. To make the object hollow you can use the board with pin and wrap paper around the pin. Start working the clay around it. When the clay is leather dry take the pin and paper out. Another option is to finish the object first and than hollow it out from the inside. This can mean you have to slice the object in two or more pieces and reassemble it again after removing the clay from the inside.

Important!! Mould and knead the clay firmly while working, to prevent air gets trapped in the clay, which potentially will burst the object when firing.

If you don't finish the object in one go, store it in a cool and dark place, covered with a damp cloth and put it in a plastic bag to keep it moist and malleable. If it is dried out spray it with some water before you start working again. When the object is finished leave it for a couple of weeks to dry in a cool place

Firing in a kiln

After finishing the object you can hollow it out, if necessary cut the object in pieces and fix it together again when the parts are hollow. Leave it to dry for a couple of weeks (about 3 weeks).

After a few weeks when the clay is dry you can fire it in a kiln at a high temperature. It makes the clay hard and durable. You need not be put off by the idea of firing because you don't own a kiln since it's easy to come to some arrangement with a private pottery or educational institution.

After the first firing (biscuit) you can decorate the clay in many ways, as well you can leave it natural, what you like most.

Engobe technique

Engobe is a slip, which is the name for clay in a liquid state. You can add it as an extra color to the pottery. When the clay is about leather hard you paint the engobe with a brush. All kinds of colors engobe are available.


When the first firing (biscuit) is done, you can glaze the clay. There are various ways of glazing an object. The most common way is holding the object somewhat tilted in the container and pour the glaze over it with a ladle. You need to fire it again at a higher temperature.


After the first firing painting the object is a possibility. To get a bronze effect you paint the object brown. Use acrylic paint because it is fast drying. The second layer must be green. While you paint wipe it off a bit. If it is dry a touch of gold paint for shadow will do.

You either can use paint or varnish, but you also can use beeswax or shoepolish for a gloss. If you want to put the object outside you should remember that you bring it inside again in wintertime as the clay is not frost proof.


At first while you're learning to mould with your hands, you don't really need equipment. Only when the hands cannot themselves do the job of shaping or decorating than other aids should be sought. In most households you can find the equipment you need. Tools and aids you may need are a board eventually with pin to keep the clay in place. While modelling the clay it is useful to keep a kitchen knife at hand to remove some clay or reshape in places. Also a simple sponge does wonders. Other tools are shown in the photographs.They are all handy but not absolutely needed.

Work method

The best way to mould clay is to put it on a board, at eye level so you can see what you're doing, turn the object regularly to maintain correct proportion


In libraries and bookshops you can find books with the proper information about modelling clay. From these books you can get yourself a fairly good idea what can be done with clay, how to use and model, decorate, glaze and fire it. They will also provide examples but when looking around you will find plenty subjects. Also several educational institutions in your neghbourhood will provide classes and workshops.


For painting clay you need all sizes of brushes. Don't use expansive brushes because they don't last for long. The surface of clay is very coarse.

Where to buy clay

In hobby shops you can buy coarse and fine textured clay in several colors. They supply tools and aids as well. The clay texture ranges from 0.5 mm for fine up to 2 mm for coarse. If you make a large object use coarse textured clay for body strengths. The colors you can buy are: black, terra- cotta, white, red, beige and pink clay. A clay bread is 10 kilo.

Clay storage

Once you have opened the packing, you can store the leftovers in a plastic bucket with lit, cover the clay with a damp cloth, so you can reuse it again. Don't leave the clay in the packing only because it will dry out. It is a lot of work to get the clay moist and malleable again. Keep it in a cool and frost proof place. Once the clay has been frozen you cannot use it again.


For firing the clay you need to read the information on the package. Some sorts of clay need higher temperature than others.

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