How to Make Maquette Art

by Sarah Clark
Polymer clay creates miniature versions of larger sculptures, called maquettes.

Polymer clay creates miniature versions of larger sculptures, called maquettes.

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Making maquettes for artistic projects is a way to plan out and preview a smaller version of a larger, finished sculpture. These miniature figures let an artist test the shape, positioning and details of a proposed project without using extra money and supplies to create a full-scale model. Maquettes also allow people who commission large artistic pieces see the intended outcome of the artist's work. Polymer clay applied onto a wire skeletal structure is one way to create maquette figures.

Items you will need

  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Polymer clay
  • Clay shaping tools
  • Clay sculpting tools
  • Baking sheet
  • Oven
  • Spackling paste
  • Sandpaper
  • Paintbrushes
  • Craft paints
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Step 1

Sketch out the design of your maquette figure with paper and pencil. Include the figure's size, positioning, expression and any other details.

Step 2

Bend wire to form a skeletal armature that matches your figure's sketch, using wire cutters whenever necessary to trim pieces. Use one piece of wire to create a round shape for the head, followed by a spine and a tail if your figure has one. Wrap extra pieces of wire around the spine if you are making a large maquette. Bend wire around the spine to create arms, legs and other appendages, using the sketch as a reference for placement and positioning.

Step 3

Add polymer clay to the armature to create the first outer layer. This layer creates the figure's musculature. Start by applying small pieces of clay onto the areas where the wire is wrapped to form limbs. Then apply clay to the rest of the body. Continue adding and shaping clay until the figure looks similar to the body sketch, without the fine details.

Step 4

Use shaping and sculpting tools to add the smaller details to your maquette. Sculpt facial features, skin textures, hair and any other details with picks and other scuplting tools. Smooth the figure's surface wherever necessary or add other details using shaping tools like ribs and sponges.

Step 5

Place your maquette on a baking sheet. Bake the figure in the oven following the clay's package directions. Remove the maquette after it has hardened and cooled.

Step 6

Fill in any cracks on the maquette's surface with spackling paste. Once the paste is dry, sand down any unintentionally rough or bumpy edges with sand paper.

Step 7

Paint your figure with craft paint and paintbrushes. Apply at least two coats of paint to achieve a finished, uniform look.

About the Author

Sarah Clark has been writing since 1997, with work appearing in Northern Arizona University's "Student Life Organization Newsletter." She holds a B.A. in anthropology with a minor in art history from Northern Arizona University.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images