Mini American Flag Lapel Pin

For both plasticine and polymer clay

I was tempted to hunt down 1/4" flag lapel pins for dolls online for my Ben Carson teddy bear sculpture, but was reminded of a technique I saw on the Food Network.  Turns out to be fast and easy.

A quick word of advice – make the outer layers a little thinner than the rest.  I always find that if I make them the same thickness, they don't seem to get compacted equally and wind up fatter.  So either you can trim them when you are done pressing them together or start off with a thinner piece.

Makeshift Sculpting Tools and Supplies

Like all official tools and supplies, sculpture items are usually grossly priced and no better than things you can find for less.  Here's a short list of things that I have found to work wonderfully for me.

PVC rolling pin

Gone are the days when I used the acrylic roller.  I find them to be overpriced and never big enough to do any damage.  Unfortunately, larger roller are made from wood (and impossible to clean) or are expensive.  Grab yourself a scrap piece of 2" PVC pipe and cut it down to size with a miter saw, hand saw, or really any kind of saw.   It's incredibly quick to make a few different lengths as well.

Additionally, if you are working on a large scale sculpture, it can be used as an interesting hammering tool as well, haha.


Thermoplastics are incredible.  I use them for eyeballs, teeth, and feet tie-downs.  There's an infinite number of uses for the stuff.  You can keep reusing the stuff over and over again.  Just keep in mind that the stuff absorbs the oil from the plasticine and will discolor over time.  It holds up just the same though.  Just don't set it on a plastic surface while hot or it will adhere to it.

Loew Cornell 4400

Loew Cornell 4400

Small Angular Brushes

You want to make sure to get the kind designed for oil-based paints as the clay is oil-based. The 1/4" brushes are a nice size to work with for smaller models, especially when it comes to smoothing out the eyelid area.  I use them inside of the elbows and knee joints.

 Broad Brush 18

 Broad Brush 18

Cheap wide brushes

You can find them for few bucks at craft stores with a 40% off coupon.  The softer the bristles the better. I use them to brush off clay burrs from hair that I have carved out.  Chop them down to size (12" down to 5") as they are unwieldy and will keep you from getting at some angles.

Foamular (Pink Foam Insulation Sheeting)

Very rigid, clean cutting foam that comes in different sizes.  I used less than half of the  1/2" 4x8' foam sheet to bulk up "The Big Pig" armature.  It's incredibly light, can be hot glued together, cut with a Dremel.  This leads me to my next choice:


5" Duck Stretch Wrap

I wrap the Foamular armature build up with this stuff.  It keeps the clay from ever leaching into the foam (I don't know if it would break the foam down but I'm not going to find out) or being contaminated by pink crumbs from cutting it with the Dremel.

You can also wrap the odd sizes of clay with it.  It works the same way as Saran wrap, but you don't have so much waste since they come in narrow sizes.


Tie-down and Armature Basics

Before starting, I would like to mention that the armatures on this page are designed for non-animation purposes; however, the turntable is applicable for creating any sculpture.  I will try to come out with an animation video ASAP.

Step One – Make a Tie-Down Turntable

Supplies needed:
- [1] 12" wooden round panel
- [3] PVC test caps
- [9] 3/4" wood screws
- 1/4" drill bit
- 1 1/2" (1/4" 20 thread) machine screws and nuts for tie-downs

Step Two – Making a Tie-Down Armature

Making a sturdy armature doesn't have to be difficult or take much time.  Knowing how to create an armature opens up an infinite number of possibilities a sculptor cannot obtain without support.

This is intended for solid models, not animation puppets.  

Supplies needed:
- 12 gauge galvanized steel wire
- (optional) 16 gauge galvanized steel wire for arms
- gaffer tape (medical tape will work as well)
- thermoplastic, like Instamorph or friendly plastic
- 1 1/2" (1/4" 20 thread) machine screws and nuts for tie-downs
- tie-down table – or if you don't have one, you can make a tie-down turntable in my other video