WAG Virtual Resources — Creative Clay Sculpture Activity

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Do it at Home with the WAG! Creative Clay Sculpture

Celebrate sculpture and this user friendly medium anytime. Create a WAG inspired clay pinch pot. This family art project highlights three dimensional works in the WAG’s collection and invites you to make your own hand-built 3D creation to keep for yourself, give, and share.

Many artists create clay sculptures that sometimes can be just as functional as they are unique. Using examples of works in WAG’s Permanent Collection, follow easy step-by-step instructions to inspire your own hand-built version. All you need is a something to protect the surface you are working on (placemat), water, block of clay and imagination to improvise or alter any or all steps below. There is no limit to the variety of hand-built clay sculptures you can make. You can also invent your own! Please visit WAG’s virtual resource page for more information about where to buy clay and how to make your own!

Share your creation on social media with the hashtag #WAGatHome and tag us on FacebookInstagram or Twitter.

Activity: Clay Pinch Pot

Create your own hand-built clay sculpture inspired by contemporary Canadian artist Shane Norrie's Untitled sculpture.

This boat-like vessel is one of many non-traditional mixed-media clay fired or ceramic sculptures exhibited in New Works: Shane Norrie 2012 at the Woodstock Art Gallery. Early in his career, Norrie received the Friends of the Woodstock Art Gallery Scholarship award for post-secondary studies. Known for creating and teaching traditional pottery methods and practice, he could often be found at the Ingersoll Creative Arts Centre in Ingersoll ON. This newer sculpture was also on display in 2017 as part of Thriving Spectrum: 60 Years of Annual Juried Exhibitions in Oxford County. You can find the artist online at www.shanenorrie.com.

Did you know: In 2004, the Ingersoll District Collegiate Institute, Shane’s former high school established the Shane Norrie Art Scholarship.

Shane Norrie (Canadian, b.1978), Untitled, 2012, ceramic, glass, wire, tire, 175.00 x 35.50 x 132.00 cm, Purchased with funds provided by the G.R. Green Chapter of the IODE, Woodstock Art Gallery Permanent Collection.

Large mixed media and clay sculpture shaped like a boat

Step 1

Gather the materials:

  • Primary: placemat to cover the work surface, block of air dry clay (size-about 2 x 2 x 1”), a cup of water. 
  • Alternatives: homemade play dough plasticine, store bough play dough, or any other kind of modelling clay that is safe to use.

Download an easy recipe for a DIY clay alternative.

Step 2

Warm up and soften the clay in both hands.

Hands holding a piece of brown clay

Step 3

Squeeze and push the clay between your fingers, hands or on a clean surface. This is called WEDGING.

Two hands kneading a piece of brown clay on a plastic placemat

Step 4

Form the clay into a ball or sphere by rolling the clay in your hands.

Two hands rolling a piece of brown clay into a ball

Step 5

You can also use a clean flat surface to help form your clay into a ball.

One hand rolling a ball of clay on a plastic placemat

Step 6

Make a thumbs up gesture with one hand. Great job so far!

One hand holding a ball of round clay and a second hand making a thumbs up

Step 7

Place the formed sphere of clay on your thumb. Squish it down gently and remove.

Imagine you’re adding a bellybutton to your ball of clay!

One hand pushing a thumb into a brown ball of clay

Step 8

Place your thumb back in the hole you made with your thumb, and begin pinching the clay form between your index and middle finger and your thumb.

Two hands shaping a ball of brown clay

Step 9

Continue to press and turn the clay until you’ve gone all the way around and your clay looks something like this!


Two hands shaping a piece of brown clay into a small round pot

Step 10

Keep the walls or sides of the clay form thick. Measure with your pinky finger.

If the clay form is too thin, your sculpture will lose strength and become more fragile when dry.

Two hands holding a small round clay pot next to an extended pinky finger

Step 11

Flatten the base of your pinch pot by gently tapping it on your table.

This will keep your pinch pot stable and prevent it from rolling around.

Two hands holding a small round clay pot with a flat bottom

Step 12

Tap the rim of your pinch pot to flatten and even out the opening rim.

Two hands holding a small round clay pot with a flat rim

Step 13

Smooth out the cracks gently with a little bit of water on your finger.

Water mixed with clay is called SLIP and acts like glue to hold your sculpture together. Be careful not to use too much water, as this will make your clay mushy.

Clay shrinks a little when drying. If there are cracks in the clay form, they will get bigger and make your clay form fragile when dry.

(Please note: This should not happen with the homemade playdough).

One holding a small round clay pot while another hand dabs cracks with water

Step 14

Once your clay pinch pot is finished to your liking, you can wait a few days to let it air dry.

When it is completely dry, it will be room temperature and lighter in colour.

Two hand holding a small clay pot next to a similar dried clay pot

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Phone: 519-539-1291
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