A sculpture is the culmination of one of the finest forms of visual arts that combines a three-dimensional art form with various kinds of skills to create something special. A sculpture can be made out of a variety of materials and using a whole range of tools depending on the kind material you pick. The best part about the hobby is that you get to create a sculpture using your hands, putting your mind's image and creativity out into the world.
Sculptures are also considered one of the most durable forms of art and as a result, we can still witness some of the work done by sculptors of old. There are works from ancient China and Greece that are still in brilliant shape today, not only adding value to the cultures of those countries, but also giving us loads of motivation to take up sculpting as a hobby.
Sculpting for the World
In eastern cultures like India, the earliest human civilizations were known to have sculptures, possibly depicting the religious beliefs of the time. From being a representation of an individual's thought to being a depiction of religious or political sentiments, this art form and skill has been handed down generations, surviving wars and losses of civilizations, on its way to becoming a well-preserved and widely followed art form.
Stone sculptures from ancient Greece as well as Gothic structures have mostly been devotional, while people like Michelangelo was known to introduce the human body during the Renaissance period. Constructed sculptures found their way in as the art form became more structured, experimented with more materials and the tools also became better and more finished themselves.
Modern sculpting is rarely in the direct form that technical sculptors like Michelangelo were capable of producing. The number of "abstract" sculptures is quickly increasing in the industry, people who love to use different materials like glass, electronic equipment, wires, mud and a variety of other media to create their pieces. Modern sculpting is at a level, today, where you can either know what you are doing really well or simply come up with anything and call it "art".
Getting into Sculpting
If you are a newbie at sculpting, then the best thing to do is join a class or a group where sculpting is being taught. These classes tend to provide you the materials you will need to create your sculptures although you might be required to buy a set of tools yourself. These tools will vary depending on the kind of medium you work on and the class will be the best place to learn about the mediums you have at your disposal. There are plenty of books that can give you that information as well although sculpting is something that you cannot learn through a book - you need to get your hands dirty.
Clay is the most common form of sculpting material used, especially by beginners. It can be moulded into any shape and if things don't turn out right, you can always mash it up again and start over. Clay is easy to obtain and can help you learn about putting in details into your pieces as well as making shapes and getting your mind accustomed to the idea of putting thought down onto your sculpting materials. There are many different kinds of sculpting clays available, each with its own properties, and once you are done making your shapes with clay, you can bake them or coat them with mould-making materials to create your long-lasting pieces.
Wood is another material you can use although it requires a lot more work and practice to get things right on it. You carve out shapes into the wood and since you cannot undo any mistakes, you need to plan things out more carefully. Most people tend to draw the shape they want, into the sides of the wooden piece they plan to give shape to. You draw the front, back, side, top and bottom shapes onto the piece and then start carving away outside the lines.
Finally, there is stone, which is another material that's similar to wood, only harder to carve into. You need a lot more patience and skill with stone, understanding the different kinds of stone that are out there as well as their properties. That will help you determine how you can cast your ideas onto it and create sculptures in a manner that's similar to carving out wood.
Most sculpting supplies are easily available at any hobby store while you can buy the clay or wood or stone from the store or source it from a lumberjack or stone quarry. You won't require too much quantity unless you are planning to dive into making sculptures for a living. So, buying a few pieces and starting small, before hitting the big time, will make it easier for you to progress through the hobby. Joining a class will always give you the benefit of learning more from demonstration but remember, sculpting is something that you need to get your hands into so don't just stand there reading a book or listening to someone, get in there and start making your sculpture!