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New to Jade sculpting


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Hi folks,

I stumbled into this forum during a search to understand how to sculpt a human form into clay, and then transfer the process and image into Jade.


My wife and I have limited experience at a Deborah Wilson workshop a few years ago, and will be attending another next year with Deborah and Donn Salt.

I have woodworking experience and some wood carving projects that are okay, but I have a chunk of Jade that keeps yelling at me to impose a sculpture that details a womans face. I will be 'tooling up' as required.


I have been advised to get the image out of my head and onto a clay model. This will be the path to understanding and transforming the vision into 3-D form, but the techniques that I have seen on clay modeling include material addition, while Jade carving is obviously material removal.


As I embark on this adventure, I will be soliciting advice from other enthusiasts. I have an engineering background, so I am also trying to rewire my thinking to provide better, unfettered access to the artistic part of my brain. Gee, I hope I have that part. I will also show progress along the way if the discussion allows.


I welcome any works of wisdom.



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Hi Mark


I too have a hard time going from a removing method to achieve the form to a adding method as you describe in your intro. I would suggest you use some high quality plasticine the same shape as your block of jade and use the removal method, you can do the same with clay but you have to keep the block workable.


You might want to try some easier to use material then Jade first. Jade is a tough material to work with. Not because of the hardness but because the stone is not prone to fractures and will stick together at the expense of your diamond bits. I did a small piece in BC Jade and pulled the diamonds off a half dozen bits while I was working. I learned to work at slower speeds and with more water to conserve my bits.


You might want to try some targa nut or vegetable ivory as some small projects to learn how the tools feel in your hands, this is a much softer material but will give you some feeling of how the bits will react. Or move to a stone that is between 4 to 6 hardness, Jasper is close but is not near as tough, obsidian could work well too. One o fthe major contributors on the sight has some wonderful examples on his site.


Best of luck and enjoy.


One of the Russ's from the forum.

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  • 1 month later...

You can get clays that can be worked subtractively from Chavant.


Chavant Industrial Styling Clays


These clays are much harder than any plastilina. They must be heated before being applied to an armature. After they cool down, they can literally be carved (though not with burs, of course, though apparently their Y2Klay can be milled-- I've never used it).


Chavant offers a clay sampler kit at minimal cost which is worth getting, just to try out the various industrial styling clays. For my own clay models I prefer the DeAired J-525. There are harder clays available. I used to order from the Compleat Sculptor in NYC, but I just checked their site and it seems they no longer stock the industrial styling clays.


I also recommend Chavant NSP over Roma if you want to use plastilina.

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