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Modeling Clay – What you need for clay projects

Modeling Clay – What you need for clay projects

Every winter we use modeling clay in our ArtSquish lessons. Students learn how to draw things better if they have held them with their own hands right before drawing them, and creating the shapes is even more helpful. It’s also a great way to teach anatomy, and we mostly use it for the face and parts of the face.

Clay can be purchased online and in art stores. They have some very cheap brands in the big box stores. I caution you to not purchase these kids art brands (usually in rainbow colored boxes), because this clay deteriorates quickly and becomes hard, crumbly, and very greasy.

The best clay is called Roma Plastilina and is very long-lasting. We’ve had some for 10 years.

Plasticlay is the next best brand. Most clays that are usable come in 1 lb blocks with 4 sticks as shown below. We usually purchase white or gray colored clay, but yellow shows details well too. It doesn’t really matter what color you use, as long as you use only one color. Marbled colors will cause optical illusions that make modeling and drawing more difficult.

Alternative: If you have a better budget, and are willing to work with a fast drying time, you can use Crayola® air dry clay instead. This will dry and be semi-permanent, so you’ll need more clay. It’s easier to manipulate too. Painting the final pieces is recommended and will extend the life of the piece. It dries fairly hard, but is a little brittle, and can deteriorate over time.

Each student will need about half a pound (plastilina) or 2 of the sticks for our clay modeling projects (about the size of a large orange).


About The Author

Dennas Davis

Dennas is the founder of Firstlight Arts Academy in Nashville, and also of The Art Instructor (formerly ArtSquish). He has been designing, painting, illustrating and teaching in various combinations since he learned how to hold a crayon. He is the illustrator of 24 children's books with over 5 million in print worldwide. See his paintings at

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