How to Make a Clay Model of a Boat

Updated February 21, 2017

If you have a love of boats or if you're just looking to master some new forms in sculpting, consider making your own clay boat model. Master the form of a basic, old-fashioned tugboat before moving on to create your favourite customised, complex modern boats.

Work and knead about a cup and a half of clay in your hands to soften it.

Form the clay into a slightly oblong shape. Form the clay into a rough ball in your hands, then place this on your work surface. Roll the ball beneath your palms using a back-and-forth motion until it forms a thick cylinder, about 5 inches long.

Shape the hollow of the boat. Hold the clay cylinder in your hand and press your thumb into the side to form a groove. Extend this groove up the side of the cylinder from one end to the other by repeatedly pressing your thumb into the clay, forming a long trough.

Widen the hollow. Pinch the sides of the hollow to widen and flatten them while pressing the bottom wall of the hollow against your work station to widen it.

Refine the boat shape. Flip over the boat and pinch and pull the clay into a ridge running down the centre to form the shape of the bottom of the boat. Pull this ridge up to a point at the front of the boat. Turn the boat on its end, then press it gently against your work surface to flatten the tail end. Wet your fingers and rub them over the entire shape to smooth out irregularities and lumps.

Create chunky pieces for the cabin of the boat. Pull 1 tablespoon-sized lump of clay and 1 teaspoon sized lump. Roll them into rough balls. Position the large lump at the centre of the inside of the boat and the small lump on top of it.

Mold the cabin pieces. Shape the round pieces into squares by pressing and pinching them with wet fingers. Use a pin to carve square shapes into the sides of the cabins for windows.

Add texture and detail. Moisten the entire surface of the model to make it soft. Carve wood grain lines into the surface of the clay using a pin by drawing a series of parallel, horizontal lines spaced about a quarter inch apart. Draw short, vertical lines and staggered points, each at least 2 inches apart, to indicate the ends of wood beams.

Things You'll Need

  • Air-dry modelling clay
  • Hard, smooth work surface
  • Sewing pin or needle
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About the Author

Lauren Vork has been a writer for 20 years, writing both fiction and nonfiction. Her work has appeared in "The Lovelorn" online magazine and Vork holds a bachelor's degree in music performance from St. Olaf College.