Sculpting Salt Dough Seals

This past week has been a week of a lot, and I mean A LOT, of experimenting. A lot of which were successful, some not so much...but that's the whole point, right?

One of my focuses this week has been trying different types of air-dry homemade clay to start incorporating them into my current polymer clay work (and hopefully in time replace polymer clay completely).

I've tried using 3 types so far, and one of my favourite has to be salt dough. I love how easy it is to make, I love the texture and the rough and heavy feel and the simple, rustic overall look of it; sort of like stone.

I love it.

One of the cons (for me at least) is that it's not easy to blend, so I made the seal sculptures from one piece of clay and basically shaped them into what you see in around 15 minutes each. I did have to work rather quickly because the clay dries quickly and the longer you take, the more the clay tears when you shape it. The only thing I added separately where the "hands", which I kept in an air tight container till I needed them, but the rest was all one piece.

But I still love it, and being eco-friendly, I love it even more.

Freshly made salt dough seals, or seal shaped bread ^_^

I first tried salt dough in Italy when I was around 9 or 10 years old. We were visiting my auntie who lived there then, I didn't yet (and had no plans to), and she had a book all about salt dough so we decided to have a go at making some projects in the book. I can't remember what we did, but I did remember the ingredients being eco-friendly wanted to try using it again as an adult.

One of the drawbacks in this case, because I made rather large/thick pieces, is that they took very long to dry. I first let them dry naturally just to see how long they took, but to speed it up, I put them in the oven for around 3 hours and I still had to leave them to dry overnight and then a bit more.

I've been spoiled with polymer clay! ^_^

These are my first salt dough sculptures and I'm not sure whether the bottom is supposed to tear like that as it dries, I was told it is. I personally do not mind it because I understand the reason behind it and of course, its handmade nature. But, should someone in the distant future buy a piece from me, would they understand this? Would they consider this a flaw or part of its beauty? What do you think?

There is so much I need to experiment with this clay and so much I need to understand still, as well as experimenting with other types of homemade clays.

Another clay I tried again this week, is Hearty clay. Hearty clay is a Japanese paper clay that is very lightweight and soft feeling. I said again, because I had used it before for something very small (can't even remember what) and as much as I wanted to like this clay, it did not work for me.

Seal sculpture made with Hearty clay.

Why I didn't like it? Haha...

I couldn't blend it, it was too soft for my liking, too lightweight and too spongy when dry. It didn't feel like clay to me, it felt more like polystyrene. It tore in many places as it was drying and not in a graceful kind of way like the salt dough. Maybe I did something wrong. Maybe it was my clay that was faulty. I know for sure that it is supposed to feel spongy when cured, and spongy is not what I was looking for. I just didn't know that it would be that spongy, it just felt weird when I held it. Like a soft toy rather than a sculpture. What can I say? Not the clay for me.

Hearty in white is the only one that I've tried, so it could be there are others that are different. I wouldn't want to discourage you from trying this clay if you were meaning to; there is no good or bad clay, there's only what one likes to work with.

That texture tough...they look like sculptures that have been underwater.

These were simple sculptures in the sense that they weren't upright and they didn't have an armature inside; so it would be interesting to see how I would use this clay around a base like a jar or a tin foil/wire skeleton.

I painted them in my favourite colour to create a sort of "patina" look, and I totally adore them; so I'm excited to try softer colours next time and see what happens or go for the look I gave my orca sculpture. Don't know what to do first, I get too excited!

Leaving them in their natural colour is also an option for me, it's just that beautiful.

I'd love to know your thoughts on salt dough you if you ever tried it, or on any other homemade clays for that matter. Is there one you love to use?

I hope this post finds you well, thank you so much for reading and I'll catch you next time,

Love, Mai

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