How to make a heart model

Written by gail cohen
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How to make a heart model
(modelling clay image by FotoWorx from

Whether you’re a parent eager to help your child make a model of a human heart, or an adult in need of one to explain the intricate workings of this powerful machine, building a model that’s accurate and true-to-form will be a little time-consuming, but not an impossible task. Follow the directions in this article and before you know it, you’ll be busily explaining how the valves, arteries and veins keep this miraculous organ pumping.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Armature
  • Crafting materials
  • Filler materials
  • Crafting scraps
  • Paint
  • Sculpting tools (optional)

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  1. 1

    Obtain a detailed image of a human heart. Whether you use one found on an internet site or seek a good representative in a library book, make certain the model you choose shows all sides of the heart to make it as authentic and realistic as possible.

  2. 2

    Decide on the size of your heart model. The more realistic and true-to-size, the easier it will be to make the model since you’ll be crafting your project on a reasonable scale.

  3. 3

    Choose an appropriate crafting material. To save money, work with papier-mâché made of ripped newspaper and paste. If you are comfortable working with clay, purchase Sculpy® from a craft store and use this clay as your heart model base.

  4. 4

    Make an armature (sculpting framework) on which to build your heart model. One of the easiest ways to do this is to stick a thick wood dowel into thick, flat base of styrofoam. Use the top part of the dowel as the base. Wrap filler material tightly around the top of the dowel to create a dense base on which to build the main organ of the heart. Plastic wrap, screening mesh, chicken wire or a smaller section of styrofoam will all do.

  5. 5

    Cover the heart model base with your choice of clay, papier-mâché or other model-making materials to replicate the shape of the heart. Use your hands, a knife or sculpting tools to carve or refine the model so it matches the photo you’re using for reference.

  6. 6

    Dry the heart model on its armature. Use scraps of material (like straws, more clay or other odds and ends) to fashion arteries and valves. Attach these appendages with glue, clay, papier-mâché paste or other adhesives compatible with the material you’ve used to create the heart sculpture.

  7. 7

    Paint the heart red if you’ve used material that doesn’t require an oven or kiln to bake the models. Use a small brush to highlight veins and flesh out the detail in valves and arteries. If you’ve crafted your heart of Sculpy, bake the heart in the oven per directions on the clay material package.

  8. 8

    Make your heart model a true reflection of the real thing by identifying organ parts. Tag them using their proper names: Right and Left Ventricles, Right and Left Atria, Superior and Inferior Vena Cavas, Pulmonary Artery, Aortic Arch and Valve, Septum, Myocardium, Coronary Sinus and Tricuspid and Mitral Valves.

Tips and warnings

  • Advanced model-makers thinking of using Plaster of Paris to make their heart model should know sand casting before they attempt this project.

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