Sculpt your Own Mushrooms // Polymer Clay, Mixed Media Art Sculpture | Stephanie Kilgast | Skillshare

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Sculpt your Own Mushrooms // Polymer Clay, Mixed Media Art Sculpture

teacher avatar Stephanie Kilgast, Contemporary artist.

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Search for References


    • 3.

      Sculpt the Mushroom Caps


    • 4.

      Sculpt the Mushroom Stems


    • 5.

      Assemble and Sculpt the Gills


    • 6.

      Paint to Enliven your Sculpture


    • 7.

      Make a Professional Base


    • 8.



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About This Class

This class will guide you to sculpt your very own mushroom sculpture. I will be using polymer clay and other media to color it : dry pastels and acrylic paints. It is a fun project that can be done in a couple of hours and is very versatile. No special skills required to try this class out!

This class will guide you through sculpting three types of mushrooms. It is build up in a chronological order, so you can easily follow along and bake when required.

1 - Learn how to make a quick sketch and decide up front how you are building up your sculpture
2 - How to sculpt the mushroom caps
3 - How to sculpt the mushroom stems
4 - Assemble cap + stems and add the gills
5 - Sculpt a flat fungus
6 - Make a base for your sculpture
7 - Finishing Touches

However, since we are going to use sharp tools, children need to be under the attention of an adult.

Meet Your Teacher

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Stephanie Kilgast

Contemporary artist.


Inspired by natural forms, Stéphanie Kilgast’s artwork is an ode to nature and its current biodiversity. Plants, mushrooms, insects and other animals encounter in a vibrant swirl of colors under her brush or sculpting tools.

Since 2017, in her series “Discarded Objects”, she grows colorful organic sculptures on human-made objects, celebrating the beauty of nature in a dialogue with humanity, questioning the lost balance between human activities and nature.
Her work has a cheerful post apocalyptic feel to it, a reassuring reminder that nature has the capacity to grow back, if we only let it.

She built her reputation and her sculpting skills around hyperrealistic miniature food sculptures. Her wo... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hello and welcome in my utterly where I work and sculpt and do all my stuff. Today, I'm going to share some of my skills with you on a specific project that I decided upon. We're going to make some mushrooms. I think mushrooms are great way to start because they are very interesting forms and shapes, and it's relatively easy project to begin with. It's also interesting for advanced sculptors, so it's really good for everyone. I'm really into mushrooms right now and use them a lot in my sculptural paintings. I think you will like sculpting them too. 2. Search for References: When you decide to sculpt something, you need some reference picture. For our project today, I decided to sculpt mushrooms because I'm really into mushroom. Let's go to Pinterest. Today, we're looking up for mushrooms, and since Pinterest is a lot about food, I'm adding photography, so I ensure that I have photos of mushrooms in the forest and not mushroom soup for instance. This is the one I took, the reference picture I used for the blue mushroom then I'm going to show you in today's class. I saved it on my board and I got inspired by the pretty texture on top, and then I just went from that and change the color and change the shape of it. This is how I work, I find mushrooms I like, and I make them. Sometimes, this one for instance, I replicated almost exactly for one of my sculpt things, this one I made as well, but most of the time I'm just getting inspired and changing the colors, sometimes the shape. Another good way of working is to look at the names of the mushrooms, and then search for specific mushrooms in that species, like Amanita, for instance. What you can do as well is to search by color. For instance, mushroom and blue. You can see many different pictures, sometimes it's a sculpture, but those are real mushrooms and the last thing is to search in a specific environment, so for instance, mushroom and forest, and here you will find a lot of inspiration as well. Some quite beautiful mushrooms and interesting ones. Sometimes mushroom have two other to replicate, but that's fine. Another sculpture. Of course, you always find art and that can be an inspiration as well. Just be sure not to replicate exactly what you see from other artists unless it's for you. Otherwise, this would be considered plagiarism and you don't want that. This is the research I usually do for mushrooms or any things that I want to sculpt. I always will use reference pictures and I always use Pinterest because it's just there handy for me. 3. Sculpt the Mushroom Caps: For the first mushroom cap, I used some baby blue. Starting with a ball of clay, I pushed it down on all sides so you have a flat back and a domed top. Just use your fingers to smooth down everything so you don't leave fingerprints. Then I added the pattern using a metallic embossing tool, but optionally, you could use a ball-ended tool, metallic as well. You can also use a toothpick or a metallic knitting needle. Tools are just there to help you form shapes and, usually, you can get really creative around the house using what you have on hand. I often hear people getting frustrated not having the exact same tools as I have, but I've been sculpting for about six or seven years with just a needle and toothpicks, so it's just really an excuse not to sculpt. You can sculpt with about anything. If you have your hands, and a toothpick, and some kind of needles or pins, you can go very far, so never be discouraged not having the exact tools and just try things out. Start paying attention to your surroundings, and you will find tools everywhere, I promise. For soft coloring of the mushroom, I'm using dry pastels, and I'm simply grating them in a beads plastic box so I have different colors ready at hand. I'm using high-quality Sennelier dry pastels, but any kind of pastels will work. I just, well, indulge myself in those high-quality ones. You simply dip your brush into the dry pastels, and then brush over the clay, and you are going to have that slight coloring that is really pretty. The dry pastels will add a transparent layer of color so you can use anything you like, but it needs to fit the color. Also for some other reason, red doesn't work as well, and it tends to turn a bit orangey after baking, at least for most pastels I've been using and tried. In doubt, it's always good to make a test baking first. For the second example, I decided to make a bunch of mushrooms, very inspired by Amanita. I'm always starting with a ball of clay, and then starting to shape it. Here I'm simply pushing it down on a flat surface. I am using a tile so I can bake it directly in the oven, and then I just pinch and roll in order to form cones. Since we are making a bunch, it's good to make different kinds of shapes. Just be a little bit imaginative here, and try to go for what you'd like and not so much of what you've seen. Then I'm adding some bits of white clay using a toothpick. I simply take bits with my toothpick and place them on the mushroom cap. It's actually a lot easier to do and see than to explain so I really hope the video shows what I'm doing. This is where the Amanita inspiration comes from, by the way. Just add as much white bits as you want, and then set aside. 4. Sculpt the Mushroom Stems: For the stems, you are going to need some stainless steel wire, a pair of scissors, masking tape, and a cutting plier. First, you are going to cut pieces of stainless steel wire. These are going to be the total length of your stem so be sure to check what size you want. It's better to have longer stems than shorter because even after baking you still can cut if this a bit of excess and you cannot make them longer if they are too short. Then you are going to wrap your wire with the masking tape. This is important because otherwise, the clay will not stick as well to the metal. Cut out the excess of masking tape, roll it between your fingers to ensure the masking tape sticks nicely. Once you've wrapped all your wire, start to rub clay around them. Be careful as to wrap the clay very tight around the wire because you don't want any air bubbles. If you have air bubbles tried to cut them out and to push them out, because when you have air bubbles, you might have some problems with the clay cracking during baking, and since we are using very little clay around the wire, it would be a really bad ideas. So just be a little bit careful about that. Then simply cut out the excess clay. To ensure that the clay is very smooth around the stem, just roll it a few times and remove the excess at both ends. Repeat for as many stems as you need, and then you can give them some shape before baking. For the blue mushroom, we are making a thicker stem without any wire in it. We do not need wire for that particular stem because it's thick enough and so sturdy enough. The wire is only needed for the first stem so they don't break. Here we are rolling out a cylinder and cutting both ends out. Push it onto the tile and give it some shape, and this is pretty much it. Now that you have your mushroom caps and stems, you can bake them all using oven thermometer and bake for at least 40 minutes at the recommended temperature from the manufacturer. 5. Assemble and Sculpt the Gills: For the blue mushroom cap, since we used some dry pastels, I highly recommend to seal it first with some liquid clay. For that, simply brush the liquid clay until the mushroom cap and then bake again. Meanwhile, we can start to work on the gills of the green mushrooms. For that, you are going to use some white clay, push it onto the stem, smooth down the clay onto the stem with your fingers, and place it on the mushroom cap. Then we are drawing the gills on the white clay. I'm using a spatula tool right now, but you can also use a blade or very sharp toothpick, even a needle would work. I then decided to color the gill slightly with some green dry pastel to match the stems. This is of course optional and you don't have to. You can also color them later after baking with thumb acrylic paint for very strong coloring. Same technique applies for the blue mushroom. I also used white for the gills. This time, I just added some liquid clay on top of the mushrooms, so it sticks a bit nicely. Liquid clay can be necessary if you clay is not soft or warm enough, so it doesn't stick enough. Otherwise it often is not quite necessary, but I like to use it just in case. It acts like a strong bond as it's clay so when it's baked, it all grows into one tight clay sculpture. For the gills, so this time, I used the blade first to make all the gills all around, and then used my trusted spatula tool to give some organic definition and some randomness. I also used the toothpick to push the gills inside on the stem side. I then decided to make some more mushrooms to add some variety to it. I just simply cut out some circles of purple clay and smooth them down and flatten them in oval shape and then rule lines all around with another spatula tool. But as you can see, I used a needle tool first. So that always works. Then with the ball and the tool, I added some details. Once you have all your mushrooms, bake them again. 6. Paint to Enliven your Sculpture: I'm personally very much into mixing different medias, and I love using acrylic paints to add a lot of details to my sculptures. I think it's easy to highlight a lot of details with white paint, like I'm doing now on the purple mushrooms but it also easy to add some details like dots, and different things, and variations as it is, and so much easier than to use polymer clay only. For the blue mushroom, I decided to draw some tiny lines like rain falling down, if you will. It's just a personal preference, I don't have any reference for that. But I just thought it was easy enough to do, and it was interesting enough as well to entertain the eye on this beautiful blue stem that is very simple in shape. Another option would have been to make a more complex stem sculpture, and just highlight the details you would have sculpted on it. Don't feel obligated to use paint if you don't have any acrylic paint, or if you just hate paint in general, you absolutely can sculpt only with polymer clay. I just find it so much easier to use acrylic paint for the details. Here on the green ones, I'm highlighting the guilds with some blue and mints colors and also brushing over the green part for some unity. Here you can see close up. It's really pretty and fun. What I like the most about using acrylic paint is that it's so easy and fun really, you can add so much more details and it's so easy and fast, especially if your sculpture is already detailed, you easily highlight everything. Because especially on sculptures that are rather small, the details can get lost a bit, so you don't really see the white scales if you don't add some paint on top of it. Adding the paint makes it very visible even from a far, so that's the main reason I use paint. See here, the gills are almost invisible without the paint. When you add the paint, it's like the mushroom takes life, so that's always very interesting to me. You always can add more details as you go, and more dots here and there, and rework certain things. As I said, an easier fast way to give your sculptures a lot more life. I also added some paint of the green stamps obviously. Then don't forget to let it dry long enough, one hour should be enough. 7. Make a Professional Base: For the base, I decided to go with a black base. Just be sure to make it thick enough and then using some liquid clay and the mushrooms one-by-one and arrange them together, so you'd like the final result. Then I started to cut the black clay into something that was little geometric. I didn't have a precise shape in hand, but I wanted something that was really modern-looking and very in position with the mushrooms which have a whimsical and ferry like so I wanted to very modern base to go with it. That is, of course my personal preference. You can as well make a base that is round or square or more regular. You do not need to have those very black signs. You can make it only out of moss, so that works too. On top of the black base, I added some moss using different shades of green, and I simply rolled some irregular balls and put it on top and then textured them with a toothpick. This, for instance, could be your base. You don't see the black, you just see the moss. Also when texturing the moss, add some tiny bits of fern and colored screen shades here in there, so it's a little bit more organic and you don't see the different blobs of green. To fill gaps and holes, I decided to add some more mushrooms. I went for one very easy way. I just rolled some tiny balls of different shades of clay and then I pushed some holes in them using a ball and the tool. Optionally, you could also make some more mushrooms. Again, mushroom cap, stem, etc, and some more complex patterns to fill in the gaps. I then baked everything and decided to add some blue just beneath the black, just to add some more of that sleek modern design. I apologize because my camera decided to focus on the back and not on what was doing and so it's a bit blurry, but I just basically added some liquid clay and a thin piece of blue clay. I texture it a bit on sandpaper and cut out the excess and then smooth down everything. Also signed and dated the piece and then baked again. After baking, I added some more acrylic paint here and there to highlight the moss and the new sculpted mushrooms. I also decided to highlight the mushroom cap a little bit more and add some blue paint. 8. Outro: This is it. Now go make your own mushrooms and don't forget to share your project with the class and with me so I can help you out if you have some difficulty sculpting certain things, don't forget to have fun. If you have any suggestions, just let me know. Bye.