How to make buddha

Buddha image by Renato Francia from

Buddha statues are often made of wax, wood or stone. For the Buddha that you are going to make, you will use clay, as it is easy mouldable and will allow you several attempts at success. This task will require patience and at times will be fiddly. If you are good with your hands and have an eye for detail you will be able to make a striking icon or ornament.

Cut off about half of the block of air-drying clay. You are going to make a 3-inch-tall Buddha.

Take off about a third of the block and start to roll in your hands. The clay should become soft and pliable. Then roll into a head shape. The Buddha we are making is bald, so you can smooth his head out.

Roll the other two thirds of your block into a round body shape, again roll in your hands until it is smooth and pliable.

Place the head on top of the body and slowly, with your fingers moving downwards at the base of the head, attach to the body. When you have moulded them together well, you should have your head and body.

Mold the Buddha's chest so that it takes on a more human and less "snowman" shape. Normally Buddha is made as a rather portly man, so you can give him folds on his tummy. Dig out his belly button using the cocktail stick and mould in his pectoral muscles and nipples using your fingers. Your body should be more Buddha-like now.

Break off a lump of clay from the remainder of your block that will be his arm, measuring from his shoulder and coming about halfway across his belly. Twist this into a thick sausage shape. Then gently start working the arm into the shoulder base. Make an elbow bend and place the other end across his belly. Repeat the process for his other arm.

Place one hand on top of the other and mould into an oval shape and now gently, halfway down the oval shape, with your knife make marks longways across to look like fingers. You can pinch the clay gently in the middle of each finger to make it look like a finger joint.

Take another lump of clay from your remaining piece, this time take about the amount you took for both arms plus a little bit more. You will not make actual legs -- Buddha is always sitting. Roll the clay in your hands until it is soft, make it into a ball with a hole in the middle in which to set the Buddha's body. Flatten the edges so it looks more like a doughnut.

Place your Buddha body inside your doughnut shape. Secure him by moulding together the body and the inner part of your doughnut shape. With your fingers gently affix the two parts together and smooth down until they are joined. To make his legs look crossed raise the two parts of the doughnut on each side of his body up slightly and make a pointy-knee shape just by pinching the clay on the raised up edges.

Make an indent where his legs would meet just under the knee that you just made, on each side. Then at the front of his body just under his belly make the legs look like they are crossed by making a small upside down v-shape with the knife. This will make it appear as if his feet are tucked underneath his belly.

Place your thumb and your first finger in the middle of Buddha's face and "pinch" a nose in. You should also get the indent of where his eyes should go by doing this. Noses are a challenge and it may take you a few attempts to get it just right.

Use the cocktail stick to draw oval shapes for his eyes. Smooth out with your fingers. The great thing about clay is that you can make several attempts.

Pinch out an ear using your thumb and finger, then with the cocktail stick craft the inner part of the ear by making an ear-shaped indent. For the mouth use the cocktail stick to make a line -- usually Buddha is smiling, so upturn the line at the corners -- and then very gently pinch the clay between your finger and thumb over the top of the line you have made and underneath -- this should make a mouth shape. After you have done this, smooth around the edges to define the shape a little more.

Leave your Buddha for 24 hours to dry. Air-drying clay will need to be completly dry before you paint.

Choose a colour or colours and paint your Buddha carefully, ensuring you get into all the crevices. Leave him to dry.

Paint Buddha again with a craft glaze. Once he is dry you should have a beautiful object that can be used as an ornament, a paperweight or a gift.

Most recent