Essential Sculpting Materials

Sculpting Clay

There are lots of different materials that are commonly used to make sculpture. Some have been used since the beginning of time and some are space age compounds that sculptors are still testing. One thing that doesn’t change is that sculpture materials are picked based on how easy they are to work with and how long they will last.   

But those special materials are for the finished version of the sculpture. For the early models cheap and easy to find materials are usually used to create models and cast that can be refined and changed. Even if your finished work is going to be in bronze, or in stone or in wood you need to have other materials on hand, and know how to work with them, so that you can avoid making costly mistakes.

Here are just a few of the materials that sculptors commonly keep in their studios.


Sand is a staple for any sculptor. Sculptors often use basic sand, the kind you pick up off the beach or buy in bulk for children’s sandboxes. Art supply stores sell special fine-grained sand that is especially designed for sculpting. Some artists find this sand easier to work with while others prefer a more natural sand. If you want to make sand casts you might need to have some motor oil or green clay on hand as well but you can keep your studio fully stocked with sand for cheap.  


Sculpting wax is a lot different than candle wax, so if you want to get into wax sculpting you can’t just buy some melt and pour candle wax at your local craft store. Sculpting wax is thicker and stiffer, so that it holds shape better. You can find sculpting wax at almost any serious art supply store.  


Sculpting clay you can get at any craft store. Clay is a tool that every sculptor needs to have because every sculpture should start as a clay model. Clay is the perfect material to use when you’re still fleshing out an idea because you can mold it endlessly and then when you’re done you can break it down and reuse it.  


Every sculptor also should have plenty of plaster on hand to make plaster casts. The evolution of a sculpture usually starts with a clay model and moves up to a wax model, then a plaster model, and then the finished product. Plaster models are an important part of the sculpting process because you will be able to see in detail what your finished sculpture will look like.  

These are just a few of the basic materials that any sculptor should keep in his or her studio, no matter what material you choose to work as your primary sculpting material. It doesn’t matter if you work with stone, wood, resin or another material your work will almost always start with these materials.

See Also:
Abstract Sculptures
Bicycle Sculptures
Clay Sculptures
Egyptian Sculptures
Horse Sculptures
Garden Sculptures
Ice Sculptures
Kinetic Sculptures
Living Sculptures
Metal Sculptures
Outdoor Sculptures
Photo Sculptures
Sand Sculptures
Stone Sculptures
Wire Sculptures
Wooden Sculptures
Christmas Light Sculptures
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