Whimsical Figures

by AMACO brent

Large lp51 5 figures pp

Clay figures can be inspired by history, literature or current events.

Dee Schaad was born and raised in Nebraska and has a MFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has taught ceramics at the University of Indianapolis for more than 30 years, and served as chairman of the Department of Art and Design since 1994. His work is included in a number of public and private collections and has exhibited nationally. His writing appears in many national publications. As a ceramist, his work covers a broad spectrum of ceramic processes. He works in both stoneware and earthenware, creating large and small sculptural pieces, traditional, and more functional vessel-formatted objects. Dee Schaad was named University of Indianapolis’ Teacher of the Year in 2006. During the summer of 2007, he was awarded a Creative Renewal Arts Fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis.

Start with the Head

Large lp51 11869v step1 pp

Roll a piece of AMACO® White Art Clay No. 25 into a small golf ball sized egg shape.

Make Neck

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Roll out another piece of clay into a carrot shape that is 1 1/2" to 2" long.

Attach Head and Neck

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Think of the head as a clock, with the narrow part being the bottom. Make a mark at 7 o’clock. Score and slip the marked area along with the flat end of the carrot.


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Attach the neck to the head at an angle where you have slipped and scored.


Large lp51 11869v step5a pp

Make a horizontal cut for the mouth.


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Small vertical cuts create the teeth.

Finish Teeth

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Roll two pea-sized pieces of clay into small coils.

Attach Lips

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Lay them along the teeth to create the impression of lips, one above the teeth and one below. Smooth outside edges of lips into the head.


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Smooth two small pea-sized balls along each side of the mouth to create cheeks.


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Form another piece of clay into a nose and attach above the mouth.


Large lp51 11869v step7c pp

Eye Sockets

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Push depressions into the clay for eyes.

Eye Lids

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Roll out two pea-sized clay balls and two more slightly smaller. Moisten the sockets then place one pea-sized ball into the depression and cut it in half horizontally.

Eye Balls

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Next, push one of the smaller clay balls into the slit to create the eyeball with an upper and lower eyelid. Repeat for the second eye.

Eyes and Eye Brows

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Use a needle tool to define details within the eyes.

Detail Head

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Roll two pea-sized clay balls into an egg shape. Squeeze slightly then attach to sides of head for ears. Use a clay tool to add detail. Wrap finished head in plastic and set aside.

Create Body: Robe

Large lp51 11869v step11 pp

Roll out a tapered slab of clay 6" X 10" by 1/4" thick. Texture slab with AMACO® clay texture molds. Form slab into robe by rolling the outer edges underneath itself. The robe should be narrower at the top.

Formed Robe

Large lp51 11869v step12 pp

Once robe is formed, leave it on the work-board to prevent over-handling. Move the robe by handling the board and not the actual textured clay.

Attach Head to Body

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Score and slip back of robe and front of neck then attach. Attaching the head allows the artist to create personality by having the figure looking in any direction.

Support Head

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A small ball of clay may be needed as a support to prevent head from drooping. Place a small piece of paper towel between head and support and leave during the firing process.


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Roll out two carrot-shaped pieces of clay approximately 1 1/2" long for the arms.


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Roll two clay balls the size of small grapes. Squish flat. Roll out small coils for each finger. Attach fingers to hand, then attach hand to arm. Roll two clay balls the size of small grapes. Squish flat. Roll out small coils for each finger. Attach fingers to hand, then attach hand to arm.


Large lp51 11869v step17a pp

Cut out two textured slabs about 2" x 1 1/2". Attach one end of sleeve to robe near neck and taper it down toward waist. Repeat for other sleeve.

Attach Arms to Sleeves

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Score and slip the bottom of the sleeve to the top of the arm and attach.


Large lp51 11869v step19 pp

Create the feet like the hands. Roll two egg-shaped balls of clay the size of a grape. Squish flat. Roll out small fat eggs of various sizes and attach them to the feet to create toes. Score and slip the bottom of the robe and the top of the foot and attach.

Finishing Touches

Large lp51 11869v step20 pp

Add details to further the figure’s personality. Use a garlic press to create hair. Create jewelry or top your figure off with a hat. The possibilities are endless.


Allow the figure to completely dry then bisque fire to witness Cone 04.


Coat entire figure with a wash solution of 50% AMACO® black underglaze and 50% water to enhance the texture. Once applied, use damp sponge to wipe the underglaze off the high spots. Color any remaining areas you choose with AMACO® Velvet underglazes and fire again to Cone 05. Apply AMACO® LG-10 Clear Gloss if a gloss finish is desired on certain areas.


    Whimsical Figures Download File


  1. Velvet Underglazes Hardwood Rolling Pin Hardwood Thickness Strips Texture Molds Garlic Press (For Hair!) Fettling Knife