How to Make a Hippopotamus Out of Clay

Written by brenda priddy | 13/05/2017
How to Make a Hippopotamus Out of Clay
Clay hippos can look as simple or realistic as the artist desires. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

People have made hippos from clay for thousands of years. In ancient Egypt, the hippopotamus was a revered creature and worshipped by many. There are several clay hippo shapes from Egypt that date back more than 6,000 years. You can make your own hippo from clay right at home using oven-bake polymer clay and a newspaper base for the body. This method of creation is not the same as the Egyptians used, but is much more efficient.

Form the body and head for the hippo from newspaper. If you want the hippo to have an open mouth, make that from newspaper as well. Use masking tape to help the paper hold its shape.

Tape four, 2- or 3-inch-long pieces of drinking straws to the base of the hippo body with masking tape.

Cover the straws in aluminium foil to make the legs of the hippo. Cover the entire newspaper body in masking tape to make a smooth body and head shape.

Roll out polymer clay to a thickness of about ½ inch. Press the clay around the body shape to form the hippo. Shape in details, such as muscle definition or a protruding belly, if desired. Roll small balls of clay for the eyes and form a few small cubes for teeth. Roll a small worm shape for a tail.

Use sculpting tools to form body details on the hippo, such as nostrils and toes.

Bake the detail pieces on a baking tray in a 275F oven for about 20 minutes per ¼ inch of thickness. Allow the pieces to cool.

Bake the hippo body in the oven using the same time ratio. Glue the detail pieces to the main body using a clay softener. Allow the clay to air-dry for 24 hours.

Paint or decorate the hippo as desired.

Things you need

  • Newspaper
  • Masking tape
  • Drinking straws
  • Scissors
  • Aluminium foil
  • Polymer clay
  • Sculpting tools
  • Clay softener
  • Baking tray

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