How to Make a Dolphin Out of Clay

Written by nora zavalczki
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How to Make a Dolphin Out of Clay
Dolphins are considered extremely intelligent mammals. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Making a clay dolphin requires either air-dry clay, polymer clay or organic clay. Air-dry clay is the best choice if you don't have a pottery kiln and you don't want to spend time baking polymer clay. The way you build your clay dolphin depends on its size. If making a small dolphin, the simple hand-building technique is suitable, while a larger dolphin requires a wire armature with clay applied on it. This technique enables you to use less clay and obtain a lighter figurine.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Detailed image of dolphin
  • Wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Tape
  • Newspaper
  • Scissors
  • Air-dry clay
  • Paints
  • Paintbrushes

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  1. 1

    Find a detailed picture of a dolphin. Make a sketch including all the essential components of the mammal's body.

  2. 2

    Use your sketch to build a three-dimensional wire armature for the dolphin. Make the basic shape of the dolphin first and then attach the beak, the flukes, the fin and the flipper.

  3. 3

    Reinforce the armature with tape.

  4. 4

    Tape strips of newspaper onto the wire armature.

  5. 5

    Warm up the clay with your hands to make it softer and easier to work with. This is known as clay conditioning.

  6. 6

    Prepare clay slabs with your hands or using a rolling pin. Apply the clay slabs onto the paper dolphin. Place the clay slabs close together and unify these with your fingers.

  7. 7

    Allow the clay to dry overnight. Air-dry clay dries within 2 hours or more, depending on the thickness of the clay slabs you use.

  8. 8

    Paint the dolphin using oil-based or water-based colours. Use white or light grey for the belly and dark blue or brown-grey shades for the back and the flipper. Paint small circular eyes, small ears and a blowhole with black or dark brown. Allow the paint to dry before mounting the dolphin on a stand or displaying it.

Tips and warnings

  • Prepare a stand for the dolphin using clay, papier-mâché or wire armature. Alternatively, make the dolphin's belly flat when you shape the armature, so that the dolphin will stand on its own.
  • If you want to make a small dolphin, you don't need a wire armature. Shape a solid figurine using clay.
  • You can also create a dolphin by pressing the clay into a store-bought mould.

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