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About the Author

From bicycle touring to backpacking, watercolour painting to clay modelling, the exploration journal captures my journey through many different interests and travel adventures.

I love to find those out of the way places that whisk you away from the concerns of everyday life. Whether this is by wading through an overgrown river or trying new paint techniques is up to you!

A second foray into clay modelling

A second foray into clay modelling

The previous clay modelling post in May: Modelling with Garden Clay.

I once again visited family in Hampshire, and this time took extra care when digging the hole for clay. In my previous attempt I contaminated the clay with soil and so went through a process of washing it. This time I kept it as clean as possible and so didn’t need to rinse it before using. I think this made the clay a lot easier to sculpt.


I carried about two kilograms of clay home and a kilogram of damsons from their tree, it was quite the productive visit.


The fifth model I made was a recreation of my first, though this time I made the mushrooms bigger and fully hollowed the log out. I left it in Hampshire as a gift to my Aunt and Uncle.


A lot of the image results on google for clay models are using Polymer clay, a man made clay that stays workable until baked in the oven. This means that its quite difficult to find inspiration that looks doable with garden clay, many of the proper clay sculptures are huge professional artwork made using wire frames which also isn’t suitable for me. In the end I stumbled across a fish model which reminded me of making clay fish at school.


I have reached the conclusion that anything dragon shaped is hard to make. I spent ages trying to get the right body shape, and for awhile wasn’t sure if I was making a hydra, a gorilla or a frog. It fluctuated between the three as I worked on it. In the end I decided to make it into more of a cobra shape rearing up and add wings. This one took about 3 hours. Comparatively, the dragon in Part 1 took an entire afternoon, so it shows how I’m improving.


I had a month long break after the Hydra, mostly because I couldn’t think of anything to make and partly because making a model takes such a chunk of time that I have to feel like doing it. Over that month I toyed with the idea of a Kraken attacking a ship from below but kept discounting it as too difficult. At the end of the month I hadn’t come up with any better ideas and so decided to go for it.

It took about 4 hours to make and was probably easier than I expected. I think because I’m getting quite well practiced at using clay now.

The main challenge I found was balancing the weight of the tentacles and ship sticking diagonally up. I tried to use the body to counterweight but it wasn’t enough so I added a base, but then the Kraken body split off the base due to the weight.

I was pretty irate by the third time it toppled over. It occurred to me that large sculptures use wire frames for this exact reason so I hunted around the kitchen and found a lollypop stick which I stuck straight down through the body and the base. This still wasn’t enough (more frustrated yelling) so I found another two and stuck them in at different angles. It finally seemed to hold and my only concern now is how it will be affected by the air drying.

It’s still quite unbalanced due to the clay base shrinking as it dried. A couple of days ok I was in a hurry to get to work and accidentally toppled it ver. Fortunately only one of the tentacles broke off – though into three seperate pieces. I’ll superglue it back on at some point.

The next step is to acquire some Acrylic paint from home or buy some and see how well this type of clay paints.

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