Relief Sculpting


Has it occurred to you that you might be more sculpture than jewelry designer?

You might be interested in exploring the world of relief in sculpture. The term relief is from a Latin verb, relevo, which means to raise. You likely already work with textures. How about raising textures or creating a background? 

The basic relief process in metal clay involves blocking part of a texture or allowing the texture through and nothing else. As usual, photos might explain this better.

See captions below photos.

Here are two materials that I use to sculpt using reliefs. One is transparency, like your elementary school teacher put on a projector which put it up on a screen. Of course, you need to be a certain age to understand this. Transparency sheets are still made; although, I have no idea for what other things they might be used.

The other material is Stencil Paper, which is a nice thick paper that has been coated with a waxlike substance.

I draw or print on either material then cut out my design with a sharp Scalpel or X Acto Knife.

Here is a tiny Raven head in transparency material. 

The transparency usually has a shiny side and a dull side. The dull side is for printing or writing on. I typically put the shiny side up, certain to apply a non-stick to it.

If you look closely enough, you’ll see two complementary Raven’s placed exactly where I wanted them.

I’ve placed two flattened bits of clay on the Ravens.

Rolled clay

When I pick up the clay and let it slump over my finger, the transparency Raven begins to lift off the clay.

Here is the clay with transparency removed.

Cut your template as you would.

Here are examples of relief-sculpted creations. A dark patina really brings out the relief’s appearance.

Raven earrings

A beautiful road pendant made by a traveling photographer!

Beautiful earrings made by a first-time PMCer!

Can you guess what shape the transparency material was to make these earrings?

Reverse Relief is what I could call the opposite process whereby you block the texture for a background and raise the texture of your feature.

I wish I had left more room between these Ravens. Regardless, you can see how the reverse relief would be rolled.

A reverse-relief Raven head

A tiny, reverse-relief Bear Pendant, with three relief layers

What are your ideas for relief sculpting? I’d love to see them.

For online courses in metal clay, go to I Love Silver, where you learn how to design and create your own silver creations.

© Kris A Kramer 2019