Chavant Alernative

I recently obtained the videos for "How to Sculpt a Dinosaur with Chris Darga."  He says he uses chavaunt (probably spelled wrong) clay because it gets hard when cooled, which is better for holding detail and is less likely to get fingerprints and such. 

I am going to start sculpting a Utahraptor head.  I would rather not have a hot lamp on for hours as little hands are often poking about.  What firmer clays would you folks suggect that are firm enough but dont need an oven to make them malleable.  Once I am dont, I intend to make a mold of it.  I already have the materials for and I am used to silicone brush on molds.

So what clays would you kind folks suggest?



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    I can't think of any clay that would behave the same as Chavant without requiring heat, as the state change from soft when warm and firm when cool is one of the key features of working with Chavant or similar clays like Monster Clay.

    One option is to use a clay like WED clay, which is a stabilized water based clay that is soft when wet, but firmer when dry.  The downsides there is it can be a bit messy, and you need to protect your sculpt by covering it with damp paper towels and a garbage bag overnight so the clay does not dry out.  If it gets too dry, it will crack and your sculpt may be lost. You also need to seal it before molding.

    Another option would be to use something like Sculpey, but depending on the size of your sculpt that may get expensive or be too large to bake in a traditional oven.

    You could also use a generic modeling clay from a local art store.  Just make sure it's sulfur free if you intend on molding it with silicone. 

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    edited February 2016
    Can WED be sealed between layers?  As in can I make the basic shape, seal it, then come back and add more WED over the sealed clay?

    Also I'm only seeing it in 25lb and 50lb bricks.  Is that the smallest they come?

    Post edited by Anthony Sterl on
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    WED is kind of an all-or-nothing clay, so doing it in stages would likely not work out for you.  Having a sealed core and thinner outer layers would cause those outer layers to dry faster, as the thinner the clay the faster it dries.  And the drying would also cause delamination, as the outer layers would pull away form the core as they shrink.

    WED is great for big sculpts like busts, where you want to move fast and get a lot of forms established quickly.  Smaller sculpts tend to dry out quickly and can be rather fragile.

    It's typically only available in larger packages due to how it is used (and then discarded) and typically on larger projects.

    You might have better luck with generic modeling clay jus to start out.

    Though I would highly suggest trying Chavant or something similar like Monster Clay, as they have many advantages to something like a generic art store modeling clay.

    If you don't want to keep a heat lamp where you sculpt (to keep the little ones safe) one option would be to put small batches in a microwave or toaster oven and just keep a tub of warm clay next to you.  Though I would still keep the little fingers away, as the clay typically melts from the center in a microwave, and can be quite hot there.

    Monster Clay is often worked like that.  Throw the tub in a microwave, sculpt for a while until it cools too much, then pop the tub back in the microwave.  You can also use a heat gun or hair dryer on the sculpt to make areas soft again.

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    I can definitely do the heat box with a hair dryer.  I'll get some monster or chavant clay.

    Just to be sure, can chavant/monster type clays can be left and came back to later?  As in hours or even days later.  I'd likely put a plastic bag over it if just to keep dust off of it.

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    That's one of the great advantages to Chavant or Monster Clay, you can leave it as long as you like and come back to it.  Just don't leave it out in the sun! ;)

    Also, I would cover your sculpt just to keep dust/hair off it.

    I was doing a sculpt (ironically of a rat) a couple nights before that piece was needed for a shoot, and left it uncovered only to find it coated in cat hair the next morning.  Seems my cat liked the smell of the clay and rubbed against it.

    As far as the hairdryer goes, that's mainly for spot softening, as that heat does not penetrate too deeply.  To keep your supply soft for adding to your sculpt you'll want to use a microwave or toaster oven.  But after you heat it up you should be good to sculpt for 30 min to an hour before needing to heat it again.

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    Great, thanks!  Order has been placed.
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