An armature is a supporting system built to hold up the clay while the sculptor is working. It allows for complex composition planning and building. It provides both structure and stability to the piece.
Choosing the right armature materials will greatly depend on the final product one wishes to create and the materials used during that process.
If the artist chooses to use water based clay the armature should be a material such as wood that expands and contracts with the application and absence of water. This is because water based clays will shrink and crack as they dry. Appropriate drying techniques should be followed for minimal cracking.
In the case the artist chooses to use an oil based clay the armature should be either aluminum or foam to prevent rust and breakage. Oil based clays do not shrink but can become very heavy under their own weight, requiring a sturdy armature for support.
Building the Armature
It’s important to plan out or have some kind of clear vision of a composition before building the armature. This will allow the artist to pinpoint the load bearing areas of the composition and build the armature accordingly. You will also want to make sure you choose the appropriate armature material to avoid pitfalls as the clay is laid on. Learn to build a wire armature in our Intro Course NOW!
Prebuilt armatures are available in our online shop.