Ace of Clay began sculpting as a kid and seemed to have a natural talent for it from the beginning. He didn't begin taking his talent and love for clay modeling seriously until 2015 when he opened his own sculpting business aptly titled, Ace of Clay. Of course, it was super successful and he decided to keep on expanding and changing. Since then, he's been doing tutorials on his Ace of Clay channel on YouTube and sharing his talent with the world.
He has gained 80,000 subscribers in just over a year! Ace of Clay creates whatever he wants and posts the aped up process along with helpful commentary. He recently did a polymer sculpture of Medusa and it is very impressive to see him at work.
After Ace of Clay did a fun collaboration with fellow YouTuber NerdECrafter, we just knew we had to talk to him! Ace of Clay took time out of his busy creating schedule to talk to TheThings about his channel and his sculptures. Keep reading to learn more about how he does it and what is next for him!
TheThings (TH): How did you get into clay modeling?
Ace of Clay (AC): I was introduced to polymer clay in middle school art class. I remember thinking it was the coolest thing because you didn’t have to wait for it to dry overnight. After making a small sculpture in class, I got my hands on some clay of my own and started to customize action figures. From there I branched off into my own sculptures. I realized that I had a knack for it and kept doing it as a hobby. I stopped after a few years and then picked it up again when I started Ace of Clay 5 years ago.
TH: What brought you to Youtube? Are you surprised by the success of your videos?
AC: I am very surprised! I never thought people would be this interested in my work and watching me create—let alone have it blow up as quickly as it has. My primary presence has always been on Instagram and I love how I am able to share my work on there. However, I really wanted something that would allow me to share, even more, that’s when I ventured into YouTube!
TH: What has been your favorite model you’ve ever done and what has been your favorite project you’ve done for Youtube?
AC: My favorite model I have ever done has to be a scarecrow I made in 2014 when I was just barely thinking about starting Ace of Clay. Doing this project really opened my eyes and proved to myself that I can actually create some cool things.
As far as my favorite project I’ve done for YouTube, I would have to say my collaboration with NerdeCrafter. This was such an awesome experience that I am so grateful for. I have never “collabed” with another artist let alone a big YouTube Creator like her, so this was very special for me. The concept of the video was also a lot of fun.
TH: What type of clay do you use and why?
AC: Since day one I have been using polymer clay exclusively. I love how easy it is to work with, how it holds detail, and how it cures within minutes in a regular oven. I also love that there is a variation of it for pretty much every kind of project and personal preference.
TH: What other tools are needing for these creations? I use aluminum wire and bamboo skewers for armature, aluminum foil to shape out the structure of the piece, and then masking tape to hold it all together before adding clay. For tools, I jump between my stainless steel wax carving set, color shapers, and ball styluses. The wax carving tools are very similar to dental tools and they are perfect for details.
TH: What will you be making next?
AC: Honestly, I have no idea haha. I have a sculpture going right now for this week’s YouTube video, but as far as next week’s video goes I have nothing. I don’t usually think of what I’m sculpting next until the week of.
TH: Typically, how long does it take to create a model from clay?
AC: This just depends on how elaborate the sculpture is. Simpler designs are much faster and can take me anywhere from 3-4 hours from start to finish. More complex pieces with more detail can take up to 10 hours.
TH: Is clay modeling a teachable skill or is this pure talent? How long did it take you to get this good?
AC: I think in most cases it is a combination of both. It’s definitely a teachable skill but in my case, I think I was kind of born with it. When I picked up clay again after several years of not touching it I was really surprised with what I was able to create right off the bat. I definitely think I have improved over the years for sure just from trial and error and the fact that I won’t stop until I’m happy with whatever I’m working on. As far as how long it took me to get to this point, I would have to say 5 or so years from when I picked it up again. I am definitely still learning and I want to improve my skills with every sculpture I make.
TH: What advice do you have for anyone looking to make models like yours?
AC: My biggest advice would be to get some clay and see where it takes you. Never compare your work or progress to others. The only thing you should be comparing your work to is your own, simply to gauge your personal growth as an artist. Don’t expect what you sculpt to be perfect right away, everyone progresses at different speeds. When you start, be mindful of your preferences and how you like to work. Find out what works best for you. Always keep in mind that what works for one person may not for you—or maybe it will, every situation is different. Find your style, don’t rush, be easy on yourself, and have FUN.
TH: What is the biggest model you’ve ever done and how long did it take?
AC: The biggest model I’ve ever made is a realistic, life-size wizard head. I actually made it initially as a Halloween decoration a few years back before Ace of Clay and it turned out really cool. He took 2 weeks to make.
TH: Where do you store all of your creations?
AC: I display them in a curio cabinet in my living room that I am very quickly growing out of haha. In the past, I’ve pretty much sold everything I’ve ever made, so the majority of my work is not with me anymore. However, with what I’m doing on YouTube now, I am able to hang onto it and I really like seeing my little collection grow. Something that I haven’t been able to do since I started this.
TH: Do you still make models to sell?
AC: I recently closed my commissions in order to pursue YouTube, so not at the moment. In the (hopefully near) future though, I’m hoping to sell variations of my YouTube sculptures whether offering miniature versions of them or resin castings.
TH: Do you have any plans to expand your Youtube channel?
AC: Right now I’m just riding along and seeing where it’s going to go. I did not expect to get this many subscribers and views so quickly and I’m sort of still at that experimental stage with everything. I have a ton of ideas though, and I’m hoping to implement them as I go. Also, I really want to get my subscribers more involved, do shoutouts, giveaways, art/artist features, release new merchandise, and more. I would also love to do more collabs!
Thank you for talking with us! All of your sculptures are amazing!