Sculpture of an elephant made of ceramic clay

Here is a list of the materials needed for natural clay elephant sculpture, an instructional video, step-by-step instructions and tips for working with natural ceramic clay.

The piece is suitable from the age of 9 independently, under the age of 9 accompanied by an adult.

Enjoy the piece! ♥

Before we start sculpting, here are some facts you may not have known about elephants:

The elephant is a very large animal. It weighs over 1 tons and is over 5 meters high.

2. There are 3 types of elephants: Swan African elephant, African forest elephant and Asian elephant. The difference between the types of elephants is the shape of the ears. African elephants have larger ears and are shaped like the African continent. Asian elephants have smaller ears and are shaped like the Indian Peninsula.

3. The difference between male and female in elephants is that in females there is a kind of bump on the head.

4. All types of elephants have ivory teeth, except for Asian elephant females. The ivory teeth of the elephants never stop growing. Long ivory teeth indicate old age.

5. Elephants eat grass, plants and fruits Between 12-18 hours a day. They use their long trunk to smell and lift the food into their mouths. Each elephant produces a ton of needs per week.

6. Elephants like to splash water on themselves and wade in the mud and sand used by them for protection from the sun.

Equipment and materials needed for elephant sculpture from natural ceramic clay

Watch a video demonstrating an elephant sculpture made of natural ceramic clay 4:30

Step-by-step ceramic elephant sculpture

Prepare the desktop with all the materials needed for sculpture.

Divide 2 kg of clay into two halves. Set one half aside and divide the other half again into two halves.

3. Design one part in an oval shape (egg shape) for the elephant body.

Elephant from natural ceramic clay

Divide the second part into 4 parts, one left aside for now.

Elephant from natural ceramic clay

5. Divide the two parts in half again and form rolls for the legs.

Elephant from natural ceramic clay

Arrange the four cylinders to be aligned on one side. Using a sculpting tool, cut a small section so that the rolls are the same length.

7. Using a fork Make grooves on one side of the elephant's body (not from below) at the two places of connection with the legs. 

Elephant from natural ceramic clay

8. Spray water at the connection points and connect the legs by tightening and lightly applying the foot clay on top of the elephant body.

9. Repeat step 7 and step 8 on the other side of the elephant's body.

Elephant from natural ceramic clay
Elephant from natural ceramic clay

10. Place the elephant body on the legs and slide the connection points, making sure the legs are more prominent than the body.

11. Turn the elephant over and hold it in one hand. Using a tool, tighten the leg connections from the inside.

12.  Make grooves with a fork On the body of the elephant in the area connecting with the head and spray water.

Elephant from natural ceramic clay

13.  Cut from the piece of clay, which you kept aside in step 4, two-thirds for the head. Attach the clay to the connection area on the body. Apply the clay to firmly connect the elephant's head to the body.

14. Cut half of the piece of clay you have left in step 13 for the trunk. Shape the clay into a cylinder and attach to the head of the elephant by tightening and spreading. Lift the trunk upwards in the shape of a banana and make a small hole at the end.

Elephant from natural ceramic clay

15. Pull clay under the trunk for the chin so that it forms a slightly open mouth.

Elephant from natural ceramic clay

16. Stand the elephant and move slightly between your legs so that the elephant will stand firmly on the work surface. Cut a small cube-shaped piece from the remaining half of the clay in step 2 and place it under the elephant's belly for support (not to connect).

Elephant from natural ceramic clay

17. Slide the elephant's body and make dents on the sides of the trunk for the eyes.

Elephant from natural ceramic clay

18. Using a sculpting tool, shape the elephant's eyes in a circular motion so that the eye protrudes and a delicate dent surrounds it.

19. Using a sculpting tool, shape the elephant's mouth.

Elephant from natural ceramic clay

20. Using sculpting tools, shape the elephant claws on the feet in the shape of 4 semicircles on all four legs.

Elephant from natural ceramic clay
Elephant from natural ceramic clay

21. Using sculpting tools, make grooves on the trunk to simulate folds.

Elephant from natural ceramic clay

22. Take two pieces of clay the same size for the ears and shape them into a triangle with rounded corners and slightly curved the edges inwards.

23. On the elephant's head in the area connecting the head and body, make grooves on both sides, spray a little water and connect the ears through tightening and light application on the front of the ears. Use a sculpting tool to fasten behind the ears.

Elephant from natural ceramic clay

24. On either side of the trunk above the mouth make two niches for the ivory teeth.

Elephant from natural ceramic clay

25. Make two small rolls with a spike at one end. Spray water on the niches and insert the rollers so that the tip protrudes. Raise the rollers slightly upwards.

Elephant from natural ceramic clay

26. Make a thin roll for the tail. Make grooves in the tail area on the body of the elephant, spray water and connect the cylinder. Curl the tail slightly and attach it to the elephant's body so that it does not break.

27. Curl the tail slightly and attach it to the elephant's body so that it does not break.

Natural ceramic elephant

28. The statue is ready and now you can add various accessories from the clay left for your elephant.

Elephant from natural ceramic clay

29. In our example, we created accessories for a circus elephant. You can add a ball that the elephant will hold on to the trunk.

30. You can create a saddle and put it on the back of the elephant. Roll out clay wrapped in cloth so that it does not stick to the work surface and the rolling pin. 

Elephant from natural ceramic clay
Elephant from natural ceramic clay

31. Cut from the rolled clay a wide oval shape.

32. Spray water on top of the elephant and connect the ellipse. The saddle can be decorated in different ways. For example, using sculpting tools create circles on the sides of the saddle.

Elephant from natural ceramic clay

33. Move with a sculpting tool around the saddle in connection with the elephant body to sharpen the edges.

Elephant from natural ceramic clay

If you have not finished working on the sculpture and would like to continue working on it later, cover it with a wet cloth and cover it with opaque plastic.

When adding fresh clay to a sculpture that has been wrapped with a cloth, it is recommended to partially cover the finished sculpture with nylon, so that the sculpture dries slowly and evenly with the fresh clay.

34. When the work on the clay statue is finished, leave it to dry in a shady place for about a week.

Elephant from natural ceramic clay

35. Since dry ceramic clay is brittle and has low strength it is necessary to preserve the sculpture. 

The recommended option is to burn in a special ceramic oven. You can look for a ceramicist in your area and ask to have a fire done by him. If you live in the central area you are welcome to come to us. If you want to burn the statue, prepare it for burning. We emptied the sculpture so that the clay thickness was up to about 2 cm. 

Another option is to cover the sculpture with a layer of plastic glue. After the sculpture is completely dry, place the sculpture on a work surface or nylon, smearing glue gently with a brush over the entire sculpture. Be sure to cover with a uniform layer and in all areas.

36. After burning the sculpture or after completely drying the glue, it is recommended to paint the sculpture in gouache paints. The painted sculpture can be covered with a layer of glue to strengthen and preserve the color.

Watch Gabriel and Grandpa sculpt elephants with ceramic clay - a quality occupation for leisure time 3:14

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