Ace of Clay, otherwise known as Anthony, is a talented sculptor who has taken to YouTube, where he shares with the world the process and the joy of creation with polymer clay. With a wealth of videos on his channel, he shows the entire sculpting process: from armature building, through to painting the finished sculpt. There's a bit of something for everyone to enjoy, including the sculpting of owl figurines, classic characters, original works...and even incredible thrift store transformations.
Though I have long had a love of sculpting, myself, I have also equally had as much time away from it. In my attempt to get re-inspired in the medium, I took to YouTube to find artists using the same clay I enjoy. This originally brought me to Anthony's channel. What keeps me coming back is Anthony's engaging videos, fun character sculpts, and the plethora of great tips and inspiring words he imparts while we see him work.
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you initially get inspired in the art of clay sculpting?
My very first experience with polymer clay was in middle school art class. We made little Santa ornaments with original Sculpey and I fell in love with it! I loved how I could just bake it for 15 minutes and it was completely hard. I didn’t have to wait overnight or anything for it to air dry. From there, I did it as a hobby and stopped for awhile. Fast forward a decade or so and I started Ace of Clay as my sculpture business in 2014.
Your YouTube tutorials are incredible, and I certainly have learned so much, not only about sculpting, but the painting process. What made you decide to take to YouTube and teach others?
Thank you so much! I’m glad to hear you have learned from my videos. After having a Etsy shop and creating custom orders for people, I began to get a little tired and decided to try a new avenue. I have always wanted to be an art teacher and YouTube allows me to do just that.
Have you explored other artistic mediums outside of clay sculpting itself, or have you even considered stop motion animation with clay?
I used to love illustrating before I became a sculptor. As far as stop motion goes, I absolutely love the art and have so much respect for the animators.
Is there a dream project you'd love to work on?
I have a lot of dreams! I would love to have movie created based on my characters. I do actually have a plot and concept in mind, just waiting for the right people to come around haha. I also would love to have my own art supply line.
What's next for you on YouTube? Where would like to see your channel go?
This year I really want to focus on growth and reaching a broader audience. I would love to create larger and more sensational projects and really show people what I’m capable of. I have a lot of fun things in store that I hope everyone will enjoy.
Who, or what inspires you most in the work you do?
To be honest, my subscribers and followers. Their support is the number one thing that inspires me to create. They have given me this gift of being able to do what I love every day and I want nothing more than to give back. I also love following so many amazing artists on Instagram! People are so creative.
What would you tell someone who is interested in getting into clay sculpting?
Grab some clay and get started! Don’t be afraid of the clay, respect it and it will respect you and don’t expect to become a professional overnight. Understand that everyone progresses at a different rate. Also, never forget that sculpting is a skill and not a talent, even though for some people it can be a talent.
I found your channel specifically since I use Super Sculpey clay. What are your top reasons for using Sculpey clays? Moreover, what qualities do you look for most in a clay?
I have been using Sculpey since I was 12 years old and I think it is such an amazing product and I have never had a reason to switch to anything else. I love exploring new supplies every once in awhile but Sculpey will always have my heart. As far as qualities I look for in the clay, personally I prefer a softer clay like Super Sculpey original (not to be confused with Sculpey Original).
What, for you, is the most difficult to sculpt, or the hardest sculpt you have taken on?
The hardest sculpture I’ve ever made would have to be my Medusa sculpture from 2018 because I applied small individual scales to her and it took me forever! As far as what’s the most difficult for me to sculpt, I hate doing the armature. I wish someone would just do it for me every time so I could get straight to the details haha.
I love your "thrift store transformation" videos especially. The idea of looking at turning a piece into something else completely is inspiring to see in action. It would certainly be interesting to thrift shop with you! Do you find yourself now constantly on the search for transformative pieces?
When I first started my YouTube channel and I was doing the thrift store transformations on a somewhat regular basis, I was at the thrift store looking for inspiration at least once a week! Since then, these videos have taken a back seat but it’s definitely a series I would love to revisit this year!
I know you are currently taking a break from selling your work, but can I ask if you ever had a really odd, or amusing request for a custom sculpt?
Haha I’ve gotten a lot of odd requests over the years! Off the top of my head, one was a “Marijuana Man”. Basically a marijuana leaf shaped like a person smoking a joint.
Can you tell us a bit about the tools you use and why?
I use a bunch of random tools. I love my stainless steel wax carving set. Especially the spoon and explorer tools from it. I also love rubber shapers, ball styluses, metal blades, and my pasta maker. I’m not too fond of wooden tools.
For me, just the 'feel' of clay in my hands is the most gratifying of this art form. In fact, I still find it hard to get a tool between my fingers and the clay, though I am trying. What is it that you love most about clay sculpting?
My favorite part is the feeling I get when I know a sculpture is going to turn out and be exactly what I wanted. Sometimes I’ll even surprise myself and something will come out better than I had expected. I just really love the fact that this art form is 3D and I create physical objects that you can touch and feel.
Nick C Sorbin (Nick Charles) is a former Managing Editor of 9 years for Renderosity's CG Industry News. By day, a mild-mannered Certified Pharmacy Technician working in both home infusion and a hospital ER, contrasting creative outlets as a digital artist, sculptor, musician, singer/songwriter, and Staff Writer for Renderosity Magazine. Read his articles