Frequently Asked Questions

Technical Questions | Seminar Questions | General Questions | Streaming Questions

Technical Questions

What kind of clay does Mr. Faraut use and where can I purchase it?

Philippe prefers to use a low-fire (fires to cone 06), white earthenware (water-based) clay without grog. Clays are manufactured locally so one purchased in California will be different from one in New York. Ceramic supply shops are the best source for this type of clay. A few that Philippe has personally used and finds closest to the texture he prefers are:

  • Miller #10
  • Laguna EM100 (available in the Northeast. Check distributors at www.lagunaclay.com/distributors/)
  • Laguna EM700 (available in the Southeast)
  • Laguna EM210 (available in the West)
  • Standard 105NT
  • Smooth Sculpture (available from Clay Planet in California)

A search on the internet for any of these clay types should provide various distributors around the US.

Is it necessary to fire water-based clay?

That depends. Many of Philippe’s sculptures are left to dry and are not fired. They can last for years, however they are somewhat fragile and should not be exposed to the elements. If a piece is to be saved, it should be hollowed and fired in a ceramic kiln per the manufacture’s directions. Some ceramic shops and colleges offer this service. After it can be left natural or a patina can be added.

What is terra cotta?

The direct translation for terra cotta is “fired earth”. It typically refers to earthenware pieces that have been left unglazed and is also commonly used to describe an earthenware color of brownish-red.

Do you use a patina for your fired clay pieces?

Sometimes. When he does, Philippe uses primarily wax.

What type of wax do you use for patinas on fired clay?

When creating a natural patina on fired clay Philippe uses liquid Lundmark All-Wax Floor Wax for asphalt tile, linoleum, etc. It can be purchased at hardware stores. He sometimes uses Minwax® Paste Finishing Wax which is a clear paste in which pigment can be added to change the color of the patina. Numerous books discuss finishes that can be created on a ceramic surface. Surface Decoration: Finishing Techniques includes an article written by Philippe on his wax and dust method.

Do your methods work for other types of clay?

Yes and no. Many of the techniques (including the steps for building the overall structure and individual features) can be duplicated in other types of clay such as oil-based. However, Philippe prefers water-based clays primarily for their ranges of consistency during the sculpting process. Moist clay straight from the bag can easily be manipulated during the rapid build up of volumes. As the work progresses and the clay becomes harder, finer details are easier to achieve all the way to the texture when the clay is almost dry. Furthermore, the piece can be sanded to achieve a very slick appearance (a dust mask must be worn when working with dry clay).

Can you recommend a book on patinas for bronze?

A good resource for patinas on bronzes would be Patinas for Silica Bronze by Patrick V. Kipper. From Clay to Bronze by Tuck Langland is also an excellent resource.

What can I do if my clay sculpture gets musty?

Water-based clay projects can get moldy smelling if kept damp under plastic. To avoid this inconvenience, put 4-5 drops of bleach in a spray bottle with water and spritz the clay before wrapping it at the end of the modeling session.

If my clay freezes is it ruined?

Clay that has been left in a studio where the temperature drops below freezing will be much harder to use, but is not necessarily ruined, though the consistency will be different. It can be re-kneaded, but as a general rule it is better not to let it freeze in the first place.

Is there something to be done for sculptures that develop cracks when they dry?

Hairline cracks will sometimes appear as a water-based clay sculpture dries. To prevent this it is best to allow the piece to stabilize under a loose plastic bag for several weeks after the sculpture has been hollowed. If cracks do appear the piece should be fired as is and the cracks repaired with acrylic putty before a patina is applied.

Do you ever use air-dry or paper-clay?

The same methods of sculpting can be applied to air-dry or paper-clay, however, Philippe does not use these materials as the consistency is different and they have a tendency to be very sticky.

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Seminar Questions

Does Mr. Faraut offer classes? Are they on the portrait or full figure?

Yes. The current schedule is posted on our site. Listings are marked portrait or full figure.

Will Mr. Faraut come to teach at our art center or school?

Though he is not traveling as often, inquiries to have him come to a specific college, museum or art center can still be made by contacting us: info@pcfstudios.com.

I do not have any sculpting experience; can I still sign up for a class?

Yes. Philippe’s students range from beginners to professional artists. The set-up of the seminars is such that though there is a definite structure to each day’s activities, students receive individual attention geared toward their specific questions.

Is there anything that I can do to be better prepared for Philippe’s class?

Yes. In our experience we have found that students who have worked with Philippe's books or DVDs prior to class do get a bit more out of the experience. It is also helpful to become familiar with some basic anatomical terms, as Philippe will be using these during the class.

Can I keep the projects that I work on during the seminar?

Yes. Students are welcome to take any sculptures that they do during the seminar; however, the studio does not provide firing or shipping services. Boxes and packing material will be available for classes held at Mr. Faraut’s NY studio for students to transport their clay sculpts. Other locations may not offer this service.

Will my piece be fired at class?

No. Unfortunately, the drying and firing time required do not permit Mr. Faraut to offer this service.

What size are the projects I will do in class?

Portrait projects will vary in size from 1/2 life-size for exercises to 2/3 life-size for studies during the 3-day seminars. Life-size projects will be worked on during part of the 5-day advanced portrait seminar. Figure studies in the 3-day seminar are generally 1/4 life size, while the projects in the 5-day classes will be closer to 1/3 life-size.

Will I use an armature for the figure pieces that I sculpt?

The use of armatures during the figure classes will not be necessary since the goal is to obtain pieces that can eventually be fired if it is the student’s wish. Mr. Faraut will discuss several different types of armatures that can be used when the work requires it (based on size, gesture, medium and desired end result).

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General Questions

If I can only purchase one of you instructional materials, which would you recommend first?

For artists interested in learning his techniques, Philippe recommends starting with his first DVD The Art of Sculpting Volume 1: Children, which shows how he actually works with the materials and includes step-by-step demonstrations. Though he uses a child as a model the methods can be applied to any age or gender. He then recommends his first book Portrait Sculpting: Anatomy & Expressions in Clay, which works as a companion to his DVD (though with different examples and more in-depth information).

Will you be making your book available in paperback?

At this time we have no plans to make either of our books available in paperback form. Though the binding we chose is more costly for everyone, it is our experience that it provides a much more sturdy volume that can take the wear and tear a reference books is often subjected to in the average clay studio.

Do you have a catalog?

Yes. Email us and we will send a hard copy of the items that we have available through our site.

Do you ship overseas? Can you provide a quote for me if I wish to order items and have them shipped internationally?

Yes we do. Our new shopping cart system allows you to add items to your cart and request the shipping fees before actually submitting the order. This way you can see the shipping prices for combining various items.

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