Realistic Polymer Clay Bird Sculptures

Ever since I started using polymer clay to make my moth/butterfly jewellery (, I’ve wanted to have a go at a realistic bird sculpture using this medium. In particular I wanted to do a swimming duck in a ‘decorative decoy’ style. Recently I finally bit the bullet and created this half scale sculpture/model of a drake Smew.

Click on the thumbnails to see larger versions of each image (open in new windows)

Smew sculpture Smew sculpture

Being the first time I’d ever done something like this, it took a ridiculous amount of time (I think something like 40 hours!), although I learnt a lot in the process, which should make future pieces a lot quicker to do.

The sculpture was created by covering a foil armature in Sculpey Premo clay. This was then oven baked, and acrylic gesso painted on, which gives a realistic feather texture. It was then painted in acrylics, the vermiculations on the flanks being particularly time consuming!

Finally it was given two coats of varnish, and the base covered with sticky backed velour to protect whatever surface it’s placed on.

Smew sculpture Smew sculpture Smew sculptureThe sculpture measures 15.3cm (6”) long x 6.8 cm (2.5”) wide x 5.5cm (2”) high.

Now it’s finished though, I have absolutely no idea what to ask for it, or how much anyone would be prepared to pay. One of the biggest problems is that I can’t find any similar realistic bird sculptures to compare it to. However, I have started on another one, this time a drake Goldeneye, and have plans for others. This technique would work well with any swimming/sitting bird, so as well as more ducks, other possibilities would include grebes, divers, auks, gulls and terns.

UPDATE: the Smew sculpture is now for sale in my Etsy shop:

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