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How to Create Clay Relief Artworks

By The Arty Teacher - July 9, 2021

If you’ve ever wondered how to create clay relief artworks, this blog post has some information and inspiration which just might make you include it in your planning.  I’ve been really inspired recently by the images below posted by Weston Road Art Department on Instagram. I asked Head of Art Dan McGurrin if he could tell me more.

He told me that the artworks below have been created by students in Year 12 (approximately 17 years of age). Each student is undertaking their ‘Personal Investigation’.  One student is looking at decay and has created the teeth artwork. Another is looking at animal cruelty and circus exploitation and have created the lion artwork.  The final student is looking at body image and dysmorphia and is creating the skeleton artwork.

How to Create Clay Relief Artworks

The students first rolled out a slab of clay. In this instance, white stoneware was used.

“The work was created using applied and incised decoration, slip was used along with water and a brush, most of the work was done using hands. We use simple clay tools which are widely available from all art suppliers as well as old saw blades and knives.” – Dan McGurrin 

How to Create Clay Relief Artworks

The different sorts of mark making that are visible, is so appealing.

Clay Lion Detail

The lion was painted with acrylic and water and then wiped down with a wet sponge leaving acrylic in the incised detail.

How to Create Clay Relief Artworks

It is interesting to see the artwork that inspired the clay relief artwork above.

Lion Painting Inspiration.

How to Create Clay Relief Artworks

How to Create Clay Relief Artworks

How to Create Clay Relief Artworks

The teeth and decay piece was decorated using acrylic and water, fabric, and more layers of paint.  A fine brush was used to push paint into the smaller details.

Experimental Mixed Media

Teeth Detail

How to Create Clay Relief Artworks

How to Create Clay Relief Artworks

The ribs were also painted using layers of acrylic and then white fabric was applied using PVA glue and then painted using acrylic.  Highlights were added using lighter colours.

Ribs Clay Relief Artwork

Ribs Detail

Thanks to Dan McGurrin and his clay specialist Tracy Owen, and art teacher Natalie Tonks for sharing this excellent work. Thank you to these talented students. I’m inspired to try this with my students, I’m certain they’d love it.

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The Arty Teacher

Sarah Crowther is The Arty Teacher. She is a high school art teacher in the North West of England. She strives to share her enthusiasm for art by providing art teachers around the globe with high-quality resources and by sharing her expertise through this blog.

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