Essential Sculpting Materials
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
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
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.