5 Ideas for Polymer Clay Sculpture – Get Started Now!
Whether you’re new to polymer clay or even if you’ve been at it for years, I have five ideas to get you past your creative block. Try making a dinosaur, Christmas ornaments, action figure prototypes, garden figurines, or refrigerator magnets and let your creative energy flow again!
Do you have everything to get started?
Let’s make sure that you have everything you need to get started on a new project. You need the following supplies
- Polymer clay (various colors)
- Craft wire
- Tools (various depending on your preference)
- Imagination and be well-rested
- An oven, oven mitts, and a cookie sheet (children need adult supervision)
- Polymer clay friendly paint
- Glaze for polymer clay specifically
If you have all that and you’re ready to go, here are some tutorials to help you out along the way. Also, check out the corresponding YouTube videos and I’ll walk you through each one.
1. Action figure prototypes
My favorite subject for polymer clay sculpture is creating action figure prototypes. Remember, these are prototypes for action figures, they’re not actual action figures. Such polymer clay creations break easily under the stress of playing and rough-housing. I’d really like to work for a big toy company coming up with different ideas for creating action figures.
The problem is you need to know someone on the inside. That and they usually use computer animation for designing action figures. That doesn’t mean you can’t make them out of clay first if you’re more comfortable with that. The figure can then be copied over digitally. The action figures available on the market today aren’t very exciting.
I grew up during the golden age of action figures. Stuff like He-Man, The Transformers, Voltron, GI Joe, and others all had their first run during the early part of the 1980s. From this, I was greatly inspired and I wish I still had all those figures today. While I could start collecting again, buying these toys today in their original packaging is an expensive hobby. This is another reason I got into polymer clay sculpture. I could make my figurines the way I wanted them. Quite a large collection of fantasy figures has grown since then. I’ve even made some figures from my childhood but I cannot post them due to copyright. It’s perfectly legal to make them for yourself though. Just don’t try selling them on the internet.
2. Refrigerator magnets
This is a great idea if you’re looking to do something a little outside the box. Make refrigerator magnets with adhesive backings. The magnets are fairly inexpensive and it’s a pretty easy project overall.
The possibilities are endless with these. I started out with faces but more are on the way. You can make holiday and season related refrigerator magnets. They make a great gift, especially if they come out nice. One must be very careful with them though. If they fall, they may break. I had this very scenario happen to me not long ago. Luckily, I hadn’t painted or glazed the magnets. I easily fixed the broken parts and put it back in the oven. It’s now like brand new.
3. Garden figurines
Garden gnomes have been in style for years. Why not make your own collection? This is part of a major upcoming project of mine. I’m going to make one gnome first. I’ll glaze it then place it outside to see what the elements do to it. I’m not going to put it in the path of direct sunlight for the entire day, but it will receive at least a few hours of direct light. I’m expecting it to hold up fine against the elements.
I live in Florida and don’t ever get any snow or ice. Every couple of years we have a deep freeze but it only lasts for a few hours until the sun comes up. In this area, I should be good to go but if you live somewhere that does get snowfall I suggest bringing the garden gnomes in for the winter months. You won’t be able to see them under the snow anyway.
4. Christmas ornaments
Some Christmas ornaments are easier to make than others. If you’re looking for something easy I suggest a snowman. I recommend snowmen to those new to polymer clay sculpture because you only need to create three balls, stack them, and add some detail. You also don’t have to have a lot of different colors. Once you stick the tinfoil wrapped craft wire down through the body of the snowman, you only have to make arms, gloves, buttons, a scarf, a nose. eyes, and a top hat with holly or mistletoe around the strap of it.
While this is a simple yet highly effective Christmas ornament that I mass-produced one season (to give out as gifts), there are even easier ones to create. Candy canes, gingerbread men, wreaths, and mistletoe are more simple than making a snowman.
If you’re up for a challenge, create a Santa Claus Christmas ornament. This one requires a lot of detailing and a steady hand. I’ve made two of them a few years ago. To be honest, I love the way it came out but this is a little stressful to make, especially the face. This is one that a mistake will cost you some time. One of the eyes got screwed up and I had to completely redo the entire face. This rarely happens to me but it does sometimes. It’s important not to allow yourself to get frustrated; take your time and take a break when you need to. To do the minor detailing, I used a toothpick. That’s how small of a tool you need when working on such small yet important details. I really need to make another one this coming Christmas season. Just remember that a Santa Claus or snowman Christmas ornament is heavy for the tree if you go with more clay over tinfoil.
Dinosaurs are big in popular culture today. Jurassic Park and ultimately the Jurassic World movies are big business. It’s funny because when I was really young (around 4 or 5) in the 1970s, I remember the epic Land of the Lost. This is a very special show for many reasons but what’s most interesting is how they were able to get such clay animation for such a price. While it seems a little too simple compared to the computer animation we have today, Land of the Lost was cutting-edge back in the day. Needless to say, I developed an interest in dinosaurs around that time. My interest in dinosaurs only lasted a couple of years until I was finally introduced to He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.
That’s a story for another time. It’s just interesting to see dinosaurs become so popular again. I have a seven-year-old son who loves everything about dinosaurs. When we go to the department store, dinosaurs seem like the most popular toys because they’re everywhere.
A dinosaur is a great subject for polymer clay sculpture. I created a brontosaurus for my son back in 2015, when I started out in polymer clay sculpture. First, I attempted a small Tyrannosaurus rex which didn’t come out very well. Next, I attempted a brontosaurus which came out to my satisfaction. I also created an action figure prototype which was actually supposed to resemble a collared lizard. Instead, the head came out looking more like a Tyrannosaurus Rex. I just went with it. Dinosaurs are “in”, and they make great subjects for polymer clay sculpture. You can make such a model for children but remember it’s a decoration for viewing only, not a rubber dinosaur action figure.
I hope you found these five polymer clay sculpture ideas inspiring. Inspiration and imagination are the two most important tools for creating polymer clay fantasy figures. There’s always something you can do and new challenges await you around every corner. It’s also healthy to get off the iPad, pc, Xbox, social media, or Kindle for a while and make something real. We depend entirely too much on digital means these days. It’s very satisfying to make something in physical form from nothing using hand-eye coordination. What are you waiting for?