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Special Project: Portrait Sculpture Bust in Clay with Marlene Collins

Marlene Collins • Ceramics, Mixed Mediums, Sculpture

Students will be guided through the steps required to create a self-portrait bust from clay. To facilitate a larger class, I am willing to break the day into two sessions and teach half the students in the morning and half in the afternoon. 

Session 1 
We begin a clay self portrait bust by creating a newspaper armature and blocking in our main forms including shoulders, neck and head. Students practice forming features such as ears and noses for our next session. I photograph the kids at the end of the afternoon, taking front and profile reference shots in preparation for the following day. 

Session 2
The day will start by creating profile guides using the photos from the day before. We will begin sculpting the features for our bust.  Students will make and attach their ears, learn about and sculpt basic facial anatomy as well as blocking and almost completing their hair.

Session 3
It's time to hollow out the heads for drying! This is a fun but scary part of the process. Kids cut the sculpture in half and carefully remove excess clay and paper and rejoin the two halves. Once rejoined finishing details can be completed.

The busts require 4-6 weeks of drying time before they are bisque-fired. Finishing and sealing require another shorter class for each sculpture group. No further firing will be needed as the art is not finished with ceramic glaze. Students will be able to take their finished work home.    

Grade Suitability5-12
Maximum Class Size30
Time Required10 hours per group + 5 hours prep
Material RequiredThis course is subject to availability of materials as it requires about 15lbs of clay per student.
Material CostThe artist will provide materials at the best price available.
Language of InstructionEnglish
CommunitiesCarcross, Carmacks, Haines Junction, Teslin
Special NotesA longer version of the project is available upon request.

Marlene Collins

Marlene Collins is a multi-disciplinary artist and longtime Yukoner with an extensive history coordinating and initiating a variety of programs and projects within the Yukon arts community, as well as pursuing her own practice. She enjoys discovering and working with different mediums - although clay, encaustic paint, found objects and materials are definitely old friends. At the moment, clay portraiture is the focus of most of her creative efforts.

Teaching children is a much loved and important part of Marlene's practice. She has taught classes and camps through Artist in the School, the Yukon Art Society/ Arts Underground workshop program and demonstrated at a variety of outdoor venues. Hand-building with clay, portrait sculpture and encaustic painting are the classes she teaches most often but she is definitely up for a challenge and interested in hearing about what inspires you. 

Contact the artist

  • 867-334-3261
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