Polymer Clay

Polymer clay is an incredibly versatile medium. If you have never tried it, I hope that I can persuade you to give it a shot. It offers the wonderful opportunity of working in a third dimension in color. Throughout this website you will find examples of my relief sculptures in this unusually forgiving medium.

Proverbs 30:28
Polymer Clay Relief Sculpture
Sara Joseph
"A lizard can be caught with the hand, yet it is found in kings' palaces." NIV

Pr30:28, lizard polymer clay relief sculpture, Sara Joseph

I used to sculpt in terracotta and stoneware. My end product was usually an uninspiring shade of brown or gray. I enjoyed the scale of large, or sometimes life size projects - a study of a torso, a bust... But the color was missing!

When working in terracotta, there was always the breathless moment when the kiln was opened. If I was fortunate, all the hours spent sculpting were not wasted, and my piece remained intact after having survived the high temperatures. However, more often that I care to admit, I would discover the work shattered and randomly scattered all over the kiln floor! Often imperceptible air pockets would form, despite carefully wedging the clay. They became the dynamite that I had inadvertently included in my work - with heat, the air trapped in them would expand and then attempt to escape, shattering my work. In my passion for capturing my subjects, air pockets were fairly routine. Consequently, a lot of my work either ended up with cracks or worse! However, skilled artists work with porcelain and other traditional, pliable, high fire media with success. I probably lacked the patience necessary for success.

Polymer clay, on the other hand, has a negligible shrink rate. It goes in and out of the oven with very little difference in size, shape or color. No expensive oven is required - a simple table top toaster oven is more than sufficient for starters. It is impervious to moisture, so it remains workable indefinitely. If stored carefully, the unfired clay can last for years.

In contrast, terracotta has to constantly be kept moist. Even the eventual drying of the work must be done gradually, to minimize cracking ( definitely not for the impatient sculptor!)

What I love best, is the incredible variety of colors that are available, in contrast to the dull earth colors of terracotta. These luscious colors, when blended, offer up infinite variations that should keep any artist happy for a lifetime.

All the principles of color and design that a painter skillfully uses can be translated directly into this delightful medium, with the fascinating addition of a third dimension. There are many fine artists who create small objects of art and jewelry. But polymer clay can be used for so much more!

I thoroughly enjoy exploring it as a tool for storytelling, by creating relief sculptures that colorfully express my faith. It has been a thrilling journey of discovery of the medium, its potential and the process of storytelling.

I hope the following pages inspire you to try your hand at this forgiving medium.

To get you started, here is a simple video tutorial for making a rose.

On the other hand if you want to start small, view the video below and learn how simple it is to mimic filigree work.

View my relief sculpture gallery
A Christmas Art Lesson
Burnt Offerings- a polymer clay bas-relief
Polymer Clay Horse Art