Links and Resources

Jump to Jim's Sculpture Dictionary

Jump to Bob Willis' Firing Technique

Jump to David Nunneley's Tips


  1. Go to Heather Kaiser web page at http://www.hrkaiserstudios.com

  2. New Web site for Phyllis Mantik, 2010,   http://www.mantikstudio.com

  3. Look at this new website www.sculpture.net

  4. Tracey Dobbin's www.wildfiresculpturestudio.com

  5. www.Sculptor.org

  6. Philippe Faraut, sculptor. www.philippefaraut.com lots of good links plus pictures of his work.

  7. To by wheel or caster in Oklahoma City, the best place I have found is a little place on Main street just east of Penn in Oklahoma City, I don't seem to be able to find them in the phone book but call Neal at 942-6880 or work 945-3660 if you need to find them.There about 1/3 the price of Lowes or HomeDepot.

  8. Chavant Clay, www.chavant.com

  9. Red River Sculputer Society home page is www.rrss.org

  10. Rosalind Cook's home page www.rosalindcooksculpture.com

  11. Peg Acker, OSS member's web page www.pjacker.com posted 7/05

  12. TAG's upcoming show :http://tagoklahoma.blogspot.com

  13. Pictures from Sculputers at the Bricktown show.Hi - pjacker.com 

  14. Want to make your own Plasticene Clay? Here is a formula from the internet:

    Here's one I use... I like it!!

    Microcrystalline wax ---------------- 5 lbs.
    Jordan Clay ------------------------------- 11 1/2 lbs.
    Oil (30 weight) --------------------------- 2 1/2 lbs.
    Automotive Lubricating Grease ---- 1/2 lbs.

    The above recipe makes roughly 20 lbs.
    Melt the wax to approximately 200 degrees Fahrenheit (no hotter!). Into the liquid wax, pour the oil and then add the grease. Stir until all the grease is melted and the mix has returned to 200 degrees. Stir the clay into the mix a small amount at a time to avoid lumpiness.

    When all the clay is in the container, blend the mix thoroughly until smooth and creamy, keeping the mix at 180 to 200 degrees throughout the process.

    Turn off the hotplate or burner, remove a small amount of the mix and pour it on a sheet of steel to cool. Once it has cooled to room temperature, decide whether it is an appropriate working consistency for your needs. If it is too stiff, add more grease to the mix. If it is too soft, add more clay.

    Reheat the mix to 180, blend thoroughly, and pour onto a large sheet of metal or very heavy plastic (like Plexiglas) and allow to cool.

    After the whole batch is cool, if you subsequently decide that it is too soft or too stiff, put it back in the pot and reheat it very gently so that it doesn't scorch. Keep stirring so that the solid chunks don't rest against the bottom of the pot.

    For about 80 lbs. of plasticene:
    50 lbs. clay
    5 qts. oil
    2 lbs. grease
    20 lbs. microcrystalline wax


    When stirring the mix, use a small impeller mixer (no larger than 4" diameter) mounted in a variable-speed drill. Be sure to immerse the impeller deeply in the mix before turning it on, so that it doesn't splatter or splash. You can find these mixers at any Lowe's or Home Depot, or they can be ordered from ceramics suppliers. Be especially careful when mixing, because if you have the impeller close to the surface and you turn the drill on abruptly, it will splatter all over you and all over the room.

    The grease is normal automotive chassis lube, nothing fancy.


    Sculpture Dictionary

    Jim Franklin 01/23/07

     Items in Italics are additions by the author to indicate they are applicable to sculpture. 

    Any art in which the depiction of real objects in nature has been subordinated or entirely discarded, and whose aesthetic content is expressed in a formal pattern or structure of shapes, lines and colors. Sometimes, the subject is real but so stylized, blurred, repeated or broken down into basic forms as to be unrecognizable. Sculpture that is partly broken down in this way is called semiabstract. When the representation of real objects is completely absent, as opposed to realistic or figurative sculpture, such art may also be called nonrepresentational or nonobjective, a term first used by Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944). An abstract element or intention appears in works of art and decoration throughout the history of art, from Neolithic stone carvings onward. But abstraction as an aesthetic principle began in the early 20th century with Braque (1882-1963).


    Pertaining to the beautiful, as opposed to the useful, scientific, or emotional. An aesthetic response is an appreciation of such beauty. 

    With relation to sculpture, architectural means any component of a building or structure which has been modeled, carved or welded by a sculptor and integrated into the whole in some manner so as to embellish or enhance it, as distinguished from work created for display independently. A caryatid is an example of this. And so is an ornate fireplace surround or mantel. The two subjects or art forms of sculpture and architecture have been closely related through the ages.

    A structure used beneath something else for support. For example, a sculptor might create a clay sculpture with a wood or wire armature beneath it as support. Think about the frame of a house being constructed before all of the brick or siding is built on top.

    A construction made of wood, light or heavy metal wire, bars or piping to support the wet clay, wet plaster or other soft and pliable mixed media materials used by a sculptor to model a sculpture.


    The technique of creating a sculpture by joining together individual pieces or segments, sometimes “found” objects that originally served another purpose. 

    Artist's proof
    One of the first proofs in a limited edition of original sculptures. Must bear the artist's signature or mark, and, since the early 20th century, is usually numbered. An Artist's Proof is one outside the regular edition. By custom, the artist retains the A/Ps for his personal use or sale.

    A French term for "printer's workshop" or “artist’s workshop”.

    Bas relief

    A French term for low relief (basso-relievo in Italian). In a bas relief, the figures project only slightly and no part is entirely detached from the background (as in medals and coins, in which the chief effect is produced by the play of light and shadow). See Relief and Haut relief. 

    Also called plinth. The base is what the sculpture is attached, fixed or mounted on. A block (of any shape or dimension and material placed between a sculpture and its pedestal). These terms can all be confused as a pedestal is also defined as a base or foundation!

    An art and design principle concerned with the arrangement of one or more elements in a work of art so that they appear symmetrical (even) or asymmetrical (uneven) in design and proportion.

    Bronze (1)
    An alloy of copper and tin, sometimes containing small proportions of other elements such as zinc, silicon or phosphorus. It is stronger, harder, and more durable than brass, and has been used most extensively since antiquity for cast sculpture. Bronze alloys vary in color from a silvery hue to a rich, coppery red. U.S. standard bronze is composed of 90% copper, 7% tin, and 3% zinc.

    Bronze (2)
    An alloy of copper and tin, sometimes containing small amounts of other elements in varying proportions such as zinc, silicon and phosphorus. Bronze is harder and more durable than brass and used extensively since antiquity for casting sculpture.  Bronze alloys vary in colour from silvery hues to rich, coppery red. Different countries have different standards for the mix - and mixes also may vary from one foundry to another. In its molten form, bronze is poured into the main channel or sprue of an investment casing surrounding a sculpture to produce the final cast piece of artwork.

    In sculpture, a portrait of a person that includes the head, neck, and part of the shoulders and breast, usually (but not always) mounted on a base or column. It is by definition figurative. It can be realistic or not. Compare with Portrait.

    A device with two moveable jaws used by sculptors to take measurements in the round while working. Also used when making copies of original work. Come in different sizes. Sculptor's callipers were originally only made of wood with brass fittings - but can now also be found in metal.

    The process (rather "unforgiving") of taking away material from a given volume. Used on wood, stone, marble, plaster, ice or other "hard" materials. In sculpture, it is the act of cutting or incising the material into the desired form using knives, chisels, gouges, points, saws, adzes and hammers. Usually a chisel is held in one hand and driven into the material by a mallet held in the other. Modern sculptors often "rough out" their sculptures using electricity powered tools. Deemed "unforgiving" because you cannot afford to make the mistake of taking too much material away!

    1. See previous entry. 2. The sculpture resulting from being carved (see above carving). A carved work may be called a carving, but the word sculpture is often used in preference for work of serious artistic and aesthetic value.

    In architectural sculpture, the female figure that serves as a column supporting an entablature. Usually a graceful figure dressed in long robes. From the Greek. Male counterparts are Atlantes or Telamones.

    1. To reproduce an object, such as piece of clay sculpture, by means of a mould (or mold). Also an artist may choose to cast from life real objects, or parts of a body or the entire body. This is often referred to as moulage or life casting. 2. A copy produced by this means. The original piece is usually of a less durable material than the cast. See foundry and mould.

    1. The process of making a mould (plaster, or rubber, polymer and plaster, etc.) from an original. Also, loosely, the activities that take place in the foundry. See Cast.

    1. A building material made of lime, silica and alumina. Can be surface coloured or loaded with pigments for an all-through colour. Used to create some outdoor sculptures. The sculptor will either cast his sculpture by pouring the cement into a mould cast from an original piece in a softer material, or work the cement onto a metal armature using a variety of tools. 2. Any strong adhesive used to join or repair materials such as rubber cement or cellulose cement.

    Certificate of Authenticity
    Certifies the authenticity of an individual piece in an edition.

    1. A native earth consisting mainly of decomposed feldspathic rock (feldspathic: grouping of crystalline minerals that consist of aluminum silicates with potassium, sodium, calcium or barium) containing kaolin and other hydrous aluminous minerals. Becomes hard when baked or fired. See Terra cotta. Used wet by the sculptor to build or model the form, often over an armature of wood or metal: it is then called wet clay - as compared with what is often called modeling clay 2. Sold under various names such as Plasticine and Plastilina, originally made in Italy with tallow, sulphur and high-quality clay. Also made less expensively with clay, an inert filler and various petroleum oils and greases heated and thoroughly mixed - can be variously coloured, i.e. made with graphite oil it is blackish and yellow/green if made with normal car oil.

    Coil method in clay
    As one of the oldest methods used in the formation of pottery, long strands of clay are laid on top of one another, joined by blending the coils together.

    The arrangement of lines (edges), value (light/dark) and form when speaking of Sculpture. Color (patina) will affect the overall composition.


     The state or quality of being continuous.  An uninterrupted succession or flow; a coherent whole.  “Continuity of Form” a term used by Bruno Lucchesi when describing the logical flow of surfaces from one form to another.  There is also Continuity when dealing with composition, line, surface, form, edge and value.

    *Contour Drawing
    Contour drawing shows the outline of the subject, and not the volume or mass of an object. Blind contour drawings are those created by looking only at the subject, and not the paper while drawing.  This can also be applied to sculpture in preparation for the addition of volume to create a relief sculpture.

    Contrast is created by using opposites near or beside one another, such as a light object next to a dark object or a rough texture next to a smooth texture.

    In sculpture, the core is the solid internal portion of an investment mould for casting a hollow piece of sculpture (such as a portrait). The amount of space left between the core and the mould (occupied by wax before it is "lost), determines the thickness of the cast metal. The core is made of foundry sand (can also be same as investment material) in sand casting and in the lost-wax process.

    Dominance is an object or form that stands out in relation to the rest of the Sculpture.

    This type of clay needs to be glazed, it is porous and not waterproof. Earthenware is a type of low-fire clay.

    An easel is used to support a board while sculpting a relief. Can be a collapsible tripod, studio types and as a combination sketch box unit. Some sketch boxes contain lids that serve as easels.

    Edition (1)

    A group of identical prints numbered and signed by the artist.

    bulletOpen Edition: An unlimited number of prints.
    bulletLimited Edition: Prints that have a known number of impressions, and are usually signed and numbered by the artist. The practice of limiting editions and numbering proofs originated with etching and drypoint, in which the quality of the proofs declines as the copper plate begins to show signs of wear.

    Edition (2)
    The making of replicas or copies of a sculptor's work. See Limited edition.

    *Elements of Art
    Elements of art are the basic visual symbols found in the work such as lines, shape, form, space, point, light, motion, direction, scale, dimension, texture, value and colour .

    Of or portraying the (human or animal) figure. Figurative sculpture can be either realistic (in varying degrees...) or stylized.

    Firing (1)
    To harden clay, you have to heat it at high temperatures which fuses the clay particles.

    Firing (2)
    Exposing to heat in a kiln a clay body to harden it (see Terra cotta) or an investment casing containing wax so as to "lose it" which is an integral part of the lost-wax process . See Foundry.

    Fixative Spray
    For fixing charcoal drawing on canvas before painting. Fixative spray is available in spray cans, or for use with mouth atomizer.

    The diminishing of certain dimensions of an object or figure in order to depict it in a correct spatial relationship. In realistic depiction, foreshortening is necessary because although lines and planes that are perpendicular to the observer's line of vision (central visual ray), and the extremities of which are equidistant from the eye, will be seen at their full size, when they are revolved away from the observer they will seem increasingly shorter. Thus for example, a figure's arm outstretched toward the observer must be foreshortened--the dimension of lines, contours and angles adjusted--in order that it not appear hugely out of proportion. The term foreshortening is applied to the depiction of a single object, figure or part of an object or figure, whereas the term perspective refers to the depiction of an entire scene. The same rules apply to relief sculpture.

    An element of art, such as you would see in a sculpture that has three dimensions.

    The building or place where the casting of bronze takes place by the lost-wax, sand casting or ceramic shell processes. Typically a foundry will have subdivisions of activities taking place. Most often these break down to mould making or the making of a negative container, then the pouring of wax into the moulds, cleaning up the seams from the wax, then making a core, spruing and gating the wax cast of the sculpture with wax strips or rods (sprues and gates) which will ensure the smooth arrival of the molten metal into the negative space formed when the wax is "lost", encasing the entire piece into an investment, then "losing" the wax out of the invested piece by firing it, finally pouring the molten bronze into the main sprue, hacking away the investment material, cutting off the bronze sprues and gates, chasing away any other unwanted bronze (or filling in any holes), chiseling, and then either polishing, or applying a patina and or wax to the sculpture. Mounting the final piece on a base is sometimes also an intricate part of the foundry's work. Foundries will often assist a sculptor with the installation and securing of large pieces.

    In casting, any of the several channels or ducts through which molten material is carried from the main channel or sprue, to the hollow part of the investment mould or casing. The waste piece of material formed by such a duct is also called a gate, and is removed from the cast metal along with the sprue as the first stage of cleaning up the sculpture. A gate is also sometimes called a runner.

    *Gesture Drawing
    This quick drawing captures the energy and movement of the subject. It does not necessarily have to be realistic.  Can also be applied to relief sculpture.

    When clay is hard, but not yet fired it is referred to as greenware. The clay can be made wet and turned back into a useable material.

    Gold Leaf
    Used for gilding, gold or silver (for silver leafing) is beaten to extremely thin sheets.

    Haut relief
    French for high or deep relief. Alto-rilievo in Italian. In a haut relief sculpture the figures project at least half of their natural circumference from the background. See Relief and Bas relief.

    Small areas on a Sculpture, painting or drawing on which reflected light is the brightest.

    Hue is another word for colour. The attribute which describes colors by name, i.e. red, blue, yellow etc.

    Impasto (1)
    A manner of painting where the paint is laid on thickly so texture stands out in relief.

    Impasto (2)
    Paint applied in outstanding heavy layers or strokes; also, any thickness or roughness of paint or deep brush marks, as distinguished from a flat, smooth surface.

    Impressionism is referred to as the most important art movement of the 19th century. The term impressionism came from a painting by Claude Monet. His painting was titled Impression Sunrise. Impressionism is about capturing fast fleeting moments with colour, light, and surface. Impressionism may also be applied to sculpture.  The capturing of fast fleeting moments with loose quick strokes when applying clay to a form with a minimum of detail. 

    This term is used to describe the brightness, or the dullness of a colour. Intensity could also be applied to the reflectivity of the surface texture of a sculpture.

    A containing negative mold, used in sculpture for casting metals. It consists of either earth clay and sand or plaster of Paris mixed with clay, pulverized plaster, asbestos fibers and glue size when mixed up for the lost-wax process. Also sometimes called casing. Applies to the ceramic shell coating the wax impression in the lost wax bronze process or Investment casting.

    Kilns can be electric, of natural gas, wood, coal, fuel oil or propane. The kiln is the furnace used to fire ceramics or metal.

    A line is an identifiable path of a point moving in space. It can vary in width, direction and length.

    Horizontal lines run parallel such as ===

    Vertical lines run up and down such as |||||

    Diagonal lines are slanting lines such as \\\\\

    Angled lines are a combination of diagonal lines such as /\/\/\/\/ ><<>

    Curved lines are curly and express movement such as ~~~~~

    Limited edition
    The set number of replicas or copies a sculptor plans to make or has had made from an original, after which the mold is destroyed. By thus limiting the size of an edition to first-rate examples of a sculptor's work, the sculptor protects his or her artistic integrity and the value of the works to the collector. There is no technical reason for limiting or numbering editions of works of art that are made by processes capable of turning out an indefinite number of uniformly good copies, such as lithography or casting methods that employ durable moulds - and in any case a new mould can be taken from the original to extend an edition (if not limited). Editions are frequently limited however for financial reasons; by ensuring the relative rarity of the sculptor's work, he or she increases its value.

    In art, a public declaration or exposition in print of the theories and directions of a movement. The manifestos issued by various individual artists or groups of artists, in the first half of the twentieth century served to reveal their motivations and raisons dâetre and stimulated support for or reactions against them.

    In sculpture, a small model in wax or clay, made as a preliminary sketch, presented to a client for his approval of the proposed work, or entered in a competition for a prize or scholarship. The Italian equivalent of the term is bozzetto, meaning small sketch.

    In its entire form, one of the hardest stones to carve; in fact a hard type of limestone (more or less crystallized by metamorphism), often with streaks. Takes a high polish if desired. Also one of the most expensive stones and therefore prized. In its powdered form, can be used to create bonded marble casts or "faux" marble as an alternative to plaster as a casting material. Resin can be loaded with marble powder, as can a cement mix.

    The art material that is used in a work of art such as clay, paint or pencil. Describing more then one art medium is referred to as media. Any substance added to colour to facilitate application or to achieve a desired effect.

    1. A chemical element that is more or less shiny, can be hammered, welded or stretched, as iron, gold, aluminum, lead and magnesium. Distinguished from an alloy. In wire or wire mesh form (of varying dimensions) can also be used to create sculpture. Metalwork is the term used to describe the making of things from metal. 2. Glass in its molten state.

    Mixed Media
    The term is generally used when two or more media are used in a single work of art, e.g. metal and wood, or metal, wood and stone.

    Referred to as the material used for a given sculpture. Bronze, terra cotta, plaster and wire are all examples of media.

    Three dimensional shapes which are suspended and free moving.

    Model - Modelling
    The (very "forgiving", highly satisfying; physically and emotionally) process whereby a sculptor adds (bit by bit) wet clay or other soft media such as wet plaster or cement to build up or construct his or her form - often using an armature. It is essentially an additive, not a subtractive process as contrasted with carving, though subtraction can also be and is often used in the process of achieving the desired shapes. Thus "forgiving"...

    Modelling Material
    Material that is formed into a shape. Most modeling materials harden when the moisture in them evaporates, such as clay. Some do not harden, such as plastecine and can be used again.

    A picture made up of various proportions of existing pictures, such as photographs or prints, arranged so they join, overlap, or blend with one another.  Could also be a applied to relief sculpture by overlapping or blending of several different  subjects or form.

    Mould (Mold)
    A hollow, or negative container used in the process of casting to give its form to a substance placed within (wax for the bronze lost-wax process, or plaster, cement, resin loaded or not with slate, marble or bronze powder, etc.) and allowed to harden. Moulds can be made of plaster entirely, or in rubber with an outer plaster jacket (also called mother mould or casing). A one piece mould that must be destroyed to get the cast out is called a waste mould. A mould consisting of two or more separable pieces is called a piece mould. Often a sculptor will see his finished bronze sculpture through the making of two such negative moulds either himself or at the foundry. A first one to produce the mould in which the wax positive is poured. A second one built in (core) and around the wax positive and its sprue and gates, from which the wax is lost by firing in a kiln, and which is hacked off to reveal the rough cast bronze from which the sprue and gates will have to be removed. Metal casting is done by sand casting in which the negative, containing a mould and a positive core - allowing the final piece to be hollow - are made of foundry sand.

    A building, place or institution devoted to the acquisition, conservation, study, exhibition and educational interpretation of objects having scientific, historical or artistic value. The word Museum is derived from the Latin muses, meaning "a source of inspiration," or "to be absorbed in one's thoughts."

    Shapes that are not regular or even, using a combination of edges that are curved or angular.

    The firing atmosphere containing lots of oxygen.  May also be applied to the process of patination of metals whereby chemicals applied  to the surface of the metal rapidly oxidizes (rusts) the surface, thus, changing the color of the metal’s surface.

    Applying metal oxides to the clay, mixing with water, you can create an effect of stained wood. The chemicals used to patina metal Sculpture.

    *Paper Maché
    Papier maché is an ancient art consisting of paper and a binder, such as wallpaper paste or glue.  Is also used in Sculpture.

    Patina (1)
    A film or an incrustation, usually green, that forms on copper and bronze after a certain amount of weathering and as a result of the oxidation of the copper. Special chemical treatments will also induce different colored patinas on new bronzes. Bronzes may be painted with acrylic and lacquer.

    *Patina (2)
    The layman can relate to patina when it is defined as a mellowing of tone or texture acquired by aging and use in furniture, leather, or paintings. In sculpture, it is a film or incrustation that forms on copper or bronze after a certain amount of weathering and as the result of the oxidation of the copper contained within bronze. When green, it is known as aerugo or verdigris. Patinas are often made to occur in the foundry upon the sculptor's request by special treatments that duplicate the green copper carbonates and hydrated oxides of natural bronze patinas. Rarer bluish and reddish patinas can also be effected. A patina is normally a kind of protection, which tends to retard further corrosion considerably. However, sometimes a malignant type of corrosion known as bronze disease occurs. The process whereby a patina is either naturally acquired or artificially induced is known as patination. Some sculptors imitate the patination process on non-metallic sculpture with the use of oils, waxes and pigments: i.e., shoe polish on plaster. There appears to be no reference to a word or term attributable to the person who applies the materials to produce a patina.

    1a. The support or foot of a late classic or neoclassic column. b. The base of an upright structure. 2. Base, foundation.

    Perspective (1)
    Perspective creates the feeling of depth through the use of lines that make your image appear to be three dimensional. The closer the image is, the more detailed it will appear, and the larger it will be.

    Perspective (2)
    The representation of three-dimensional objects on a flat surface so as to produce the same impression of distance and relative size as that received by the human eye. In one-point linear perspective, developed during the fifteenth century, all parallel lines in a given visual field converge at a single vanishing point on the horizon. In aerial or atmospheric perspective, the relative distance of objects is indicated by gradations of tone and color and by variations in the clarity of outlines.

    Pigment is the material used to create the effect of colour on any surface.

    Pinch Pots
    Beginning with a ball of clay, the artist can form a pot by pinching the clay to form the center opening.

    When mixed with water, this powder will harden into a chalk-like solid used to create sculptures, and other forms of artwork.

    Porcelain is a combination of kaolin, silica and feldspar. You can work with porcelain as you would clay, but when you fire it correctly, the result will be similar to that of glass.

    A portrait in sculpture comprises of the head only or head and neck. Compare with Bust.

    This method of firing pottery results in irregular surfaces and colours. The pottery is removed when it is red hot. It is then placed in a bed of combustible materials and covered.

    Sculpture is dubbed realistic when it portrays real life objects or people or recognizable, identifiable shapes. In general, the term used for the depiction of human figures, real objects or scenes as they appear, without (and this differentiates its definition from that of figurative), distortion or stylization. Can also be used to mean representational or objective sculpture as distinguished from abstract sculpture.

    Firing clay with an inadequate amount of oxygen.

    In sculpture, any work that projects from the background. Reliefs are classified by degree of projection. Relief sculpture is distinguished from sculpture in the round. In a bas relief (low relief or basso-relievo in Italian), the figures project only slightly and no part is entirely detached from the background (as in medals, coins, or areas of large reliefs in which the chief effect is produced by the play of light and shadow). In a haut relief sculpture (high relief or alto-rilievo), the figures project at least half of their natural circumference from the background. Between these two is the demi relief (half-relief or mezzo-relievo). The lowest degree of relief in which the projection barely exceeds the thickness of a sheet of paper is called a crushed relief (relievo sticciato or schiacciato). There is also a relief in reverse, called hollow relief, in which all the carving lies within a hollowed-out area below the surface plane, and which, through an illusion of depth and roundness, looks like raised relief. Hollow relief, also called sunk or concave relief (cavo-relievo), incised relief (intaglio-rilievato) are the kind of carving done on gems by the Greeks and Romans. Reliefs may be carved from hard materials or modelled in wet clay, softened wax, or plaster. Reliefs are often elements of architectural sculpture.

    A current practice of some artists is the addition of a small personalized drawing or symbol near his pencil signature in the lower margin. The practice is borrowed from Whister's famous "butterfly" which was added to personalize many of his graphics.

    Repetition is created when objects, shapes, space, light, direction, lines etc. are repeated in artwork.

    From the French verb meaning to push back. A means of achieving perspective or spacial contrasts by the use of illusionistic devices such as the placement of a large figure or object in the immediate foreground of a painting to increase the illusion of depth in the rest of the picture.  May also be applied to relief Sculpture.

    When the regular repetition of particular forms or elements occurs in a work of art, that work is said to have rhythm. It suggests motion.

    The process of creating what is described in the next entry... Also see the links there as all 4 main methods apply when defining the verb "to sculpt"!

    Art form, 3-D or three dimensional - created in the round which can be seen from all perspectives except the bottom or back (when it is resting or placed down or against a surface, unless hanging from a ceiling or other means) - or created as a relief by a sculptor. See assembly, carving, modelling and welding.

    Shapes can be in the form of squares, circles, triangles, rectangles, and ovals.

    Slab built
    Clay slabs are cut into shape, and joined together with scoring and wet clay called slip.

    A liquid form of clay. Slip is used to fill in pores, and even out the colour. Slip is used to join clay.

    In casting, the entrance hole and main channel in the wall of a mould through which the liquid material (bronze or other metal) is poured; it is joined to the model by smaller channels called gates. The waste material formed by the channel is also called sprue and is cut away after the investment material is removed, as the first step of cleaning up a cast metal sculpture.

    In painting, to apply small dots of color with the point of the brush; also to apply paint in a uniform layer by tapping a vertically held brush on the surface in repeated staccato touches. May also be applied to sculpture by the tapping of the surface with various textured tools to produce a textured surface on the clay.

    1. Cut rock, suitable for carving and building. One of the traditional materials of the sculptor, it has been carved, drilled, and polished since prehistoric times. The most commonly used stones are alabaster, marble, sandstone and limestone. 2. In the commercial world, any stone except marble.

    Sturdier then earthenware, stoneware is waterproof even without being glazed.

    The process in which an area is cut out of paper, or material such as cardboard to enable paint or ink to be applied to a piece of paper, or canvas through the cutout.  May also be used on Sculpture during the patina process.

    A symbol is a picture or image that tells a story of what it is without using words.

    Symmetry is when one side of something balances out the other side.

    Terra Cotta (1)
    Commonly used for ceramic sculpture, it is a brownish-orange earthenware clay.

    Terra Cotta (2)
    1. Italian for fired or baked clay (literally cooked earth). Terre cuite in French. The end product of a fired sculpture. 2. The term terra cotta clay is often used for any clay suitable for shaping and firing, except for the very fine porcelain clays.

    Texture creates the feeling of an object.

    Three dimensional. Sculpture can be referred to as a 3-D art form as opposed to painting which is 2-D or two dimensional.

    Passage from one form, state, style, or place to another. In sculpture the change from one form to an adjacent form.  It also can be applied to the changes from form to form within the design of the composition.

    *Trompe L´oeil
    A french term meaning "deception of the eye." It is applied to painting so photographically realistic that it may fool the viewer into thinking that the objects or scene represented are real rather than painted. To a certain extent, relief sculpture can be interpreted as a “deception of the eye.

    Preliminary painting used as a base for textures or for subsequent painting or glazing. May also apply to the patination of bronze (metal) Sculpture when applying an undercoat of Liver of Sulphur (Black on Bronze) with an additional application of another chemical to achieve a different effect or transparent color..

    A feeling of completeness is created by the use of elements in the artwork.

    Shadows, darkness, contrasts and light are all values in artwork. This is most important in Sculpture as color is not present except in the final stage of glazing, or patina

    The process of joining together two pieces of metal by fusion. Intense heat is applied by an oxyacetylene torch in gas or oxacetylene welding, and by electrical means in arc welding. Sometimes a filler rod is melted along the joint, in the process known as brazing. The direct welding of two pieces by combining the molten edges is called fusion welding. It is done at much higher temperatures than soldering and results in stronger, more durable joints. It is used in making direct metal sculpture and comes under the general term of assembly - as opposed to carving and modeling.

    Bob Willis Firing Technique:

    Bob Willis’ firing method for his solid sculpture  

    Kiln: Paragon Model LT-3K

    Clay: Cone 06, Longhorn Red

    Sculpture: solid clay bust with paper in the head…I do not hollow the sculpture, but fire it solid.  The armature hole in the sculpture can serve as a “chimney” during the firing process, so it is best to place it on kiln furniture of some type rather than sitting flat on the bottom of the kiln.  Sitting flat on the kiln bottom can prevent the fumes, heat, and smoke from having good release. 

    Upon completing the sculpting of a bust, it is good to remove it from the armature and set it aside to dry on newspaper or a smaller diameter armature.  It should dry for 30 days before firing.  Here is the process I use to fire the solid busts:

     First 3 hours….…lid totally open……kiln settings on Minimum (both dials)

    Next 3 hours……lower lid to approximately 3 inches….kiln remains on Minimum

    Next 3 hours…..close lid completely……kiln settings to 1 (both dials)

    Next 3 hours…..insert kiln plugs ……kiln settings to 2 (both dials)

    Next 3 hours…..adjust kiln settings to 3 (both dials)

    Next 3 hours…..adjust kiln settings to 4 (both dials) 

    Kiln usually kicks off before the final adjustment is complete….between 15 and 18 hours of total firing time. 

    I usually wait at least 18 hours before opening the kiln to view the sculptures.  Never remove the sculptures from the kiln if they are still warm, as they may crack when cooled off too quickly.

    This is a method I have used successfully for over 15 years…but, of course, as a disclaimer…I am not responsible for the outcome of the firing of others.:-).

     Bob Willis


    David Nunneley's Tips - David uses TruForm armatures for the human figure which have a 3-dimensional head, chest and pelvis.    He also relies on charts he has made in sizes corresponding to the armatures which are enlargements of the human figure (front, back and side) from Human Proportions for Artists, cited below.   He also uses pictures of the skeleton and photographs of men and women for accurate muscle development.  He uses dividers (a drafting tool) when working with small figures, calipers for large ones. 



     Step one – the figure  

    Determine size of armature – 15”, 18”, 24”, etc.

    Use charts of accurately sized figures as a quick reference.

    Quickly apply warm clay, constantly working all sides of the figure.

    Use your dividers to determine when your clay figure matches your chart.

    Don’t worry over details until everything is accurately proportioned.

     Step two – the head  

    By using your best available photos – front, back, side – you reduce or enlarge the photo to the exact size of the head on your armature.

    Using your dividers, locate the facial features from the photo and transfer them to your clay model.  This now becomes the basis for the development of a good likeness.

    You need to understand the basic knowledge of facial anatomy and have some ability as an artist to then fine tune it to perfection.

     Step three – the hands  

    Using your accurately dimensioned chart, sculpt the right and left hands on a flat plane.

    Shape the fingers and palm to then match what your subject is doing.

    Hands are intricate and very important to a sculpture.

    Make a mold of hands for the different size armatures you commonly use!  Cast in wax.

    Home Depot can match a water-based paint to your clay to use over the wax hands.


    Modeling and Sculpting the Human Figure – E. Lanteri

    Human Proportions for Artists – Fairbanks

    The Human Figure – Erik Ruby

    Visualizing Muscles – Cody


    Armatures – TruForm

    Clay – Classic Clay 2AB225

    Moldmakers – Wade Heckes

    Enlargers – Artistic Replicators ( Dewey , OK )

                       Synappsys ( Norman , OK )

    Foundries – Art Castings ( Loveland , CO ), Bronze Services ( Loveland , CO ), and

                         Metal Dynamics ( Tulsa )        

Send me your info. to add to our links page.

Neal Willison at naw@osuokc.edu