How to Make Mud Sculptures

Written by nora zavalczki
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How to Make Mud Sculptures
A mud relief sculpture on a wall makes for an intriguing decoration. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Mud is a term that refers to a wide range of materials including soils, clay and plaster or a combination of them. The material can be used in art projects to make free-standing sculptures or relief patterns on walls. Mud has similar properties as clay, but it doesn't require firing to harden it. To make a resistant sculpture, make a wire frame and apply the mud on it.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Coarse-grit sandpaper
  • Concrete base
  • Wire/ wire mesh
  • Nails
  • Chalk
  • Fine clay soil
  • Sand
  • Lime putty (optional)
  • Rubber gloves
  • Palette knife
  • PVA glue
  • Water-based colours

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  1. 1

    Wash the wall to prepare it for the mud relief sculpture. Sand the wall with a coarse-grit sandpaper to create a rough surface so that the mud sticks to the wall.

    If making a free standing sculpture, choose a base for the piece. A concrete base works best.

  2. 2

    Sketch the design for the sculpture and make a wire frame, also known as armature. The armature holds the sculpture together. If you plan to make a relief sculpture, draw the shape of your sculpture on the wall using chalk. Insert nails in the wall following the outline of the sculpture. Add a few nails inside the outlined area and tie wire around the nails.

  3. 3

    Prepare the mud using fine clay soil, sand and water. Add equal parts of soil and sand and mix with water to obtain a homogenous paste. This way there won't be cracks in the sculpture once the mud dries.

  4. 4

    Apply a thin layer of mud on the wall or the free-standing wire frame. Use a palette knife or your hands, while wearing rubber gloves. Allow the mud to dry.

  5. 5

    Apply a thicker layer of mud and shape it according to the desired design. Allow the piece to dry.

  6. 6

    Seal the sculpture using diluted PVA glue.

  7. 7

    Paint the sculpture using water-based colours. Colour the relief sculpture in the same colour as the walls or choose a complementary colour.

Tips and warnings

  • Use timber or windbreak netting instead of the wire to create a frame for a free standing sculpture.
  • Use the palette knife or a carving tool to create textures on the mud, before the second layer of mud dries.
  • Mix colours into the plaster and mud to obtain a coloured sculpture.
  • Add lime putty to the mud mixture, which is a binder and makes the material more durable and less prone to cracks.
  • Textured walls are ideal for relief mud sculptures, because the mud adheres better to the wall.
  • Display your sculpture outdoors and mix the mud with grass, so that your piece of art is continually changing.

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