Polymer Clay Figures

Submitted by: Cindy Erickson
UNIT: Figurative Sculpture
Lesson: Baked Polymer Clay 3D People Portraits
Grade Level: Middle school – High School (5th and up)


Standards/PASS Objectives: (Teacher should mark those he/she emphasizes in this lesson for each day)


Standard 1: Language of Visual Art - The student will identify visual art terms

1. Describe and apply knowledge of the principles of design: rhythm, balance (symmetrical, asymmetrical, radial) contrast, movement, variety, center of interest (emphasis), and repetition in personal artwork, and the artworks of others - apply these to sculpture.


2. Describe and use the elements of art: line, color, form, shape, texture, value (light and dark), and space in works of art. Identify and discriminate between types of shape (geometric and organic), colors (primary, secondary, complementary, intermediates neutrals, tints, tones, shades, and values), lines (characteristics, quality), textures (tactile and visual), and space (background, middleground, foreground, placement, perspective, overlap, negative, size, color) in personal artwork, and the artworks of others - apply these to sculpture.


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Click on the images above for full size.


3. Know how works of art are made with respect to the materials, media, techniques, and sources of ideas.


4. Discuss observations of visual and expressive features seen in the environment (such as colors, textures, shapes).


Standard 2: Visual Art History and Culture - The student will recognize the development of visual art from an historical and cultural perspective.


1. Describe and place a variety of specific significant art objects by artist, style and historical and cultural context.

2. Identify themes and purposes of works of art and artifacts in history and culture.

3. Identify how the visual arts are used by artists in today's world, including the popular media of advertising, television, and film (Cite examples of clay animation in advertising and movies).

4. Communicate in-depth knowledge gained through integrated study of a visual art theme, historical period, or event.


Standard 3: Visual Art Expression - The student will observe, select, and utilize a variety of ideas and subject matter in creating original works of art.

1. Make original works of art using a variety materials (media), and techniques (skills), and sources for ideas.

2. Use observation, memory and imagination in making original works of art.

3. Demonstrate safe and proper use, care, and storage of media, materials, and equipment.

4. Apply knowledge of a basic art vocabulary through experiences in making original works of art.

5. Demonstrate a basic knowledge of media, techniques and processes in: Sculpture.


Standard 4: Visual Art Appreciation - The student will learn to appreciate visual art as a vehicle of human expression.

2. Demonstrate respect for personal artwork and the artwork of others.

3. Demonstrate thoughtfulness and care in completion of artworks.



Specific Objectives:

Student will learn:

1. Proper building techniques w/ “bake in the oven” clay such as Fimo or Sculpey.

2. To create either a realistic portrait or caricature in sculptural form

3. Show awareness of correct figure proportion


Materials Needed:

Sculpey. Clay - Assorted colors with extra flesh color
Pasta Machine. – useful but optional. (See the book, Clay Techniques With A Pasta Machine.)
Wooden base for each student with 2 holes drilled to insert wire –or figures can be designed to sit-they do not stand very well usually without a base
Armature Wire. - Can be bought or hangers can be used but they are more difficult to manipulate Masking tape
Plastic Face Forms. (optional- See Maskmaking Book.) Hand and feet molds (optional)
Baking sheet (old cookie sheet)
Oven to use
Cutting tools (old table knives, dental tools, Wire End Clay Tool Set.)
Texture items (old buttons, cloth, Burlap,. plastic things to mold into)



Show photos and discuss vocabulary.

Discuss 3 main building forms-----1. ball and variations---2. snake---3. flat sheets

"This project looks hard but it really isn't."


Draw a stick figure of what you have in mind. Draw figure with correct figure proportion (suggest folding paper into eighth's an drawing figure about 7 ½ head height's tall). Lay the armature wire on your drawing and cut - twist and wrap it together until you have a wire stick figure. Wire must end in 2 points at the end of each leg to insert into wooden bases if you use them. Use wadded foil to build it into a 3D figure. Use a foil ball for the head. Wrap with masking tape to make a filled out full figure. Condition the clay by rolling it through the pasta machine or hand kneading for 6 minutes. Mold flesh clay into the face mold of your choice. Using your fingers and the toothpicks change the face to reflect your own design.


Attach the face to the front of the foil ball. Use additional flesh clay to make the rear of the head and the neck.

Mold flesh clay into the hands and feet. Attach to the wire for hands and feet. The hands go at the end of the arm wires but the feet stick out in front of the leg wires which are inserted into the base. See in progress photographs below.


Roll color into flat sheets and make “clothes” for your figure.

Add texture and details. The more detail the better. Keep going!!

Small "real" items can be added for detail such as Beads. or wire (paper clips) small baskets, silk flowers etc.


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In progress - optional - molds can be used for face, hands and feet.


Assessment - Rubric: Adapted from rubric by Marianne Galyk. To print, right-click>view image>print


Clay assessment rubric


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