How to Make Clay Gargoyles

Updated April 17, 2017

Gargoyles became common additions to cathedrals and churches throughout Europe during medieval times. Although decorative, gargoyles also served a functional purpose by channelling water from gutters and away from the walls. Their grotesque features, a mix of humans, animals and mythical beasts, have been utilised in art and literature for centuries. Making a clay gargoyle is an artistic activity that doesn't require previous sculpting experience.

Find a reference photo of a gargoyle to use throughout your project. Look for one with features that you like. You will use this photo to help you determine the correct proportions, facial features and body of the gargoyle.

Lay a plastic sheet over your work area in order to protect the table or counter where you are working. Place all of your materials on top of the plastic sheet so they are easily accessible.

Roll your clay into a cylinder using your hands. You can make the gargoyle any size that you want. With your reference photo nearby, start to pinch and sculpt the clay to form the body of the gargoyle. The gargoyle will be best if it is sitting or crouching, so form the pose of the body into one of those shapes.

Carve details into the gargoyle with a toothpick. Carve the eyes, mouth, fingers and anything else that needs to be included. Use the toothpick to add intricate details you can't achieve with your fingers.

Place foil on a baking tray and put your gargoyle on top of it. Preheat your oven according to the instructions on the clay package. Bake the gargoyle according to the instructions, checking periodically to make sure your project is not burning or cracking. Set a timer to help you know when to remove the gargoyle from the oven. Allow the gargoyle to cool completely before removing it from the baking tray.

Things You'll Need

  • Reference photograph
  • Plastic sheet
  • Gray modelling polyform clay
  • Toothpick
  • Foil
  • Baking tray
  • Timer
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About the Author

Natalie Chardonnet began writing in 2006, specializing in art, history, museums and travel. In 2010, she presented a paper on those subjects at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research. Chardonnet has a Bachelor of Arts in art history and a minor in Italian studies from Truman State University, in addition to a certificate in French from Ifalpes University in Chambery, France.