How to Make an Armature for Clay Figure Sculpting

Written by danielle odom
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How to Make an Armature for Clay Figure Sculpting
Give your clay figures more stability during the firing process with an armature. (Clay Children Playing on Swing Seat image by vkongkad from

When creating large clay sculptures, sometimes it's necessary to create a structure to build it on. Too much clay can make the figure less sturdy and more prone to damage during firing. Armatures are internal structures that give stability to your sculptures. They also provide a way to anchor the piece to a base and to use less clay while sculpting.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Wire (2 different gauges)
  • Wire cutters
  • Pliers
  • Gloves
  • Base (foam core or wood)
  • Drill and bits
  • Screws
  • Aluminium foil

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  1. 1

    Lay a piece of the thicker wire over the longest line on a full-size sketch of the finished sculpture. Begin just under the top of the head and extend the wire down through the torso and one leg. Clip the wire, leaving about an inch to anchor to the base.

  2. 2

    Continue measuring wire and cutting to create limbs for all pieces of the sculpture that branch off from the centre piece.

  3. 3

    Attach these limbs to the first piece of wire using the smaller gauge wire to bind it.

  4. 4

    Screw from the bottom of the base up, allowing the screw to stick out from the top.

  5. 5

    Bind the skeleton to the screw with the thinner-gauge wire.

  6. 6

    Form the limbs to create the desired shape.

  7. 7

    Bulk out the form with aluminium foil. Wrap it around a limb repeatedly. Press the foil tightly around the wire. If you are making a large sculpture, wrap wire around the limbs to create a more sturdy form before applying the foil.

  8. 8

    Make a ball of aluminium foil for the head of the figure.

Tips and warnings

  • You can use epoxy putty to attach the limbs to the wire frame. This will give the frame more stability.
  • Always wear leather gloves when working with wire. Clipped ends are very sharp.

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