Category Archives: sculpting

Tools of the trade

I’ve been asked a couple of times about the tools I use on my sculptures. The main tools are my hands, that sounds a bit patronising, but it’s true. I’ll roll, push, poke, prod and generally mash Sculpey or clay around with my fingers to get the shapes. As for tools, heres some of my commonly reached for with the most important on the left and descending in order to the right.


First off is a couple of wooden tools that are I would struggle to be without as I use them not only for building forms, I tend to use them for detail work as well. The top of the far left one is the one I use for hair a lot.

The next one is a home made one which is a brass tube with a bent jewellers saw blade in the end. I’ve had this for about 15 years as I made it at uni. I honestly have no idea how I bent it as these blades are tough but snap easily, all I can think is I heated it and bent it. I hope I never snap it. Anyway, its a rake, the fine teeth on one side help to shave the top layer of material to make shapes in the clay.

The three together are ball stylus ended thingys. Technical I know. They’re good for forming folds and indentations.

The five black handled tools are silicone tipped sculpting tools. I had some cheap ones once and they lasted about a month. Seriously c**p. I bought these ones from a Spanish website called green stuff world for about 10 euros and they’re amazing. They’ve lasted for about 2 years and show no serious degradation. Shipping to the UK was a bit of jolt but worth it. I’d shop around if I needed new ones now but at the time I was too narked off at my cheapness and didn’t care.

The small silver thing is a Zirconi Zahle 4 Wax Carving Stainless Steel Instrument and will gut you like a fish. Good for sharp clean edge work.

The next bunch of tools are a mix of sculpting tools I’ve collected and dental tools given to me by a dentist a long time ago. Yes, they are second hand… I cleaned them. Many times. The lone brass tube in the middle is a home made pokey thing build from a bit of stiff wire and stuck in place with putty. It comes in handy now and then but not that much.

Red handled tools are silicone paint shapers from a cheap shop. They come in useful now and then but theres nothing the wooden tools can’t do.

Some paintbrushes round off the photo but only because it stopped the shapers from rolling out of the shot.

Not shown are a load of wooden tools that get used on big things, knives, loops (very useful items) and bits I use to make texture like sandpaper and sponges. I also use wooden balls for eyes as I’ve got a selection of sizes although Cthulhu used some glass beads we had in the garden. Pin heads for rivets or buttons. Guitar wire for pipes.

Any questions then drop by the Facebook page and ask or leave a comment on here. I’ll try and make sense with any replies.

Welcome to the Hinterland

Poor old blog… ignored for aaaaaages. I’d like to put it down to being really busy but its also that I’m too damn lazy to update this place. Still, not as bad as the five month gap between the previous two.

So whats been happening in the last couple of months? Well, the Bertram Fiddle kickstarter got funded so I’ve been casting up Gavins like you wouldn’t believe so I’ll write up how thats been going on at some point, I sculpted a Welsh Dragon as a Christmas present, I finished and cast the goddess figure I’d been working on and at the end of the year I did a little personal piece to amuse myself over December. Thats four blog posts waiting to be written.

OK, so I’ll write one up now, just to ease up my workload.

The personal project was my attempt to sculpt a ‘real’ thing. All of my sculptures are either gods, aliens, monsters or comical in some way, shape or form and it seemed like I needed to work on something different to stretch myself in a new way. As it’s easy to sculpt something unnatural and claim “It’s supposed to look like that” I picked a character from a rather dark TV series I watch, hoping I could get a good likeness. This is my attempt at DCI Mathias from the Welsh TV series ‘Y Gwyll’ as shown is Wales or ‘Hinterland’ to the rest of the world, filmed in Aberystwyth. He started off looking a bit rubbish but things always do.

It was a pretty quick sculpt, only taking a couple of weeks (quick for me anyway) and I ended up with this.


Built up over some brass tube and sculpted in super sculpey firm, I’m fairly happy with the outcome even if the paint job was a bit sloppy and I need to work on my flesh tones. The base is a chunk of drift wood which I found while wandering the beach a few miles north of where the TV series is filmed, so fits rather well.

Theres a full album with work in progress shots here:

More to come then, I’ll try and keep the blog updated but don’t hold your breath…

You don’t know Jack

Jack O'Lantern as designed by Michael Bukowski
Jack O’Lantern as designed by Michael Bukowski
Jacks skeleton with Milliput
Jacks skeleton with Milliput
Jack with some Greenstuff slopped all over him
Jack with some Greenstuff slopped all over him
Jack with some more Greenstuff on him
Jack with some more Greenstuff on him
Jack all painted up
Jack all painted up
Another project finished and, as it’s that time of year, I have finished another of the now traditional Halloween sculptures. One of the blogs I follow is Yog-blogsoth by Michael Bukowski. The illustrations are all based on different parts of the Lovecraft Mythos and its refreshing to see a Mythos blog which doesn’t just repeat the same trio of Cthulhu, Dagon and deep ones. Several months ago he posted a picture which caught my tiny mind. It’s one of the aspects of Nyarlathotep who I have a soft spot for in the Mythos and I’ve already posted that I thought Steve Jobs was Nyarlathotep and I’ve come close to sculpting him before in the Pharaoh form he is more widely known for (Nyarlathotep, not Steve Jobs). So with the subject picked, I thought I’d try something new which this time was using greenstuff to sculpt the Jack /Nyarlathotep character.

Usual start, wire frame, milliput over the top and then green stuff which I’ve not used properly before so it was an experience. The first few passes turned out ok but I wasn’t feeling the love properly. Its nice stuff for getting details but I was struggling with the stickyness of it and how floppy it can be when its set. I did find a few interesting tips online, one is it can be mixed with milliput to make it firmer. This does have the minor side effect of making it even stickier so best only to use in smallish amounts.

Another useful tip is not to use metal tools, the greenstuff sticks to them, as well as anything else it touches except silicone tools.

I also found it’s best not to stop on an area and come back to it the next day, its hard to get soft greenstuff to blend over firm greenstuff so lines and gaps can be hard to get rid of. I ended up picking up some liquid greenstuff from Games Workshop which works but is a bit unsmooth as you have to brush it on so a little bit of wet and dry helps once it has set.

One last one, which could be seen as bit icky, smoothing greenstuff seems to be an artform. There are all kinds of suggestions from water (didn’t seem to work too well with me), vaseline which has to be cleaned off before the next layer is added or it won’t stick, but the best one I’ve found is the oil which collects on the nose and forehead. Rub the tools in it, rub your fingers in it, even rub the greenstuff on your face before working with it. Damned if it doesn’t work a treat. Yes, I smoothed the final few passes on this with my own blood, sweat and tears. Well, sort of. I’m trying out a couple of other things but at a pinch it works well.

Jack had his final paint job with Games Workshop paints after a few coats of Halfords finest filler primer.

Google gallery of the build