Three dimensional images from templates

We all love three dimensional work — that’s one of the many strengths of meta clay. However, they can be limiting or difficult. You can sculpt a three dimensional image from greenware — takes lots of time, with many possibilities for error. You can use a commercial mold — which limits what you can do. You can make your own molds — but only if you have an original to make the mold from. Today, we are going to discuss how you can make a three dimensional figure from a template. I used a commercial template, but, of course, you can make your own template.


The  piece I am going to describe is titled ‘Gastineau Channel’. It’s the name of a waterway between Juneau, Alaska, and a nearby island, and the first place I ever saw a whale. There’s nothing special about the image I chose — you can use the same technique for any image you like. I used silver clay, but any other metal will work too.


First, roll your clay out. I made this fairly thick (2 mm) because I wanted the whale to be substantial. Remember that the final image will be thicker than what you start with. If it’s too thick or too thin, you can always wad the clay up and start over.


Choose a template that you want to use. I used the sperm whale. Cover the metal clay with plastic wrap, being careful to not have any wrinkles. Then place the template atop the plastic wrap, so you have the template atop plastic wrap atop metal clay. Press the template down hard with your thumbs, going around the template. The metal clay will bulge up through the template. The plastic wrap will cause it to form a rounded image.


This is what the whale looked like after pressing. You will notice that there is quite a bit of flash. Don’t waste clay! Trim away as much of the flash as you can without impacting your image.


img_0845 This is what the whale looked like after I trimmed the flash. There is obviously lots of work to do to clean it up, but that comes in the greenware stage.


Make a background. I could have used a commercial texture sheet. However, I carved my own in hard rubber.


This is what the sanded greenware looked like, attached to the background.


This is the same piece, fired and tumbled.


I applied Maxblack ™ patina to the background, and left the whale shiny.

This techniques opens up a whole new world of making three dimensional images from metal clay. Have a leaf template? This makes a three dimensional leaf, that you can inscribe the details into. Have a template of an animal or human figure? You can make something more complicated than a flat image.

Explore this technique. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

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