Quill and Quire

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Fun with Modeling Clay

by Barbara Reid

Barbara Reid remains the undisputed doyenne of Plasticine illustration. In Have You Seen Birds? and Effie, she uses not just the medium, but perspective in remarkable ways. In 1997, she won the Governor General’s Award for her illustrations in The Party. Fun With Modeling Clay is her most recent how-to book, and it’s wonderful to have such a gifted artist share her skill with children in this way. Reid’s techniques are intended for use with oil-based compounds such as Plasticine and Klean Klay. However, they also work with potter’s clay or Fimo, synthetic clay that can be baked to permanent hardness.

For this book, Kids Can has taken selections from Reid’s 1988 book, Playing With Plasticine, added colour illustrations and photos, and redesigned the whole. It’s for children eight and up. This is a crucial stage, when most kids begin to feel their artwork is “no good.” The vast majority of children stop creating visual art forever in the middle school years, so it is important to have books that encourage them to develop technique and continue to create work they can be proud of. Fun With Modeling Clay is such a book. Reid’s simple, illustrated, step-by-step instructions introduce basic tools (all household items) and describe how to make 10 basic shapes. Then, with the same easy-to-follow instructions, she combines these 10 shapes to make animals, people, objects, and landscapes.

The creative details that are the hallmark of Reid’s illustrations are present here. The results should please even the most self-critical child and help to build a growing sense of artistic competence.