Basic Sculptural Modelling: Developing the Will by working with Pure Forms in the first Three Grades

Based on a book by Hella Loewe


As a child, I enjoyed dipping my hands in mud. Squishing it! Making a solid form out of the wet mud challenged my imagination. All too often the mental image was greater than the actual form that I created. I was imagining a beautiful form in my head while my hands worked with the earth.

Making mud pies, Mud balls, Mud houses, creating landscapes was great fun for me.


In ancient Greek, archein means original and typos means pattern. Archetype means an original pattern on which something is emulated or fashioned. An archetype therefore is something that can be referred to as the principle and understood as or principal pattern from which others are copied.

The idea of pure forms that embody the fundamental characteristic of a thing dates back during Plato. This concept can be related to behaviour, literary and forms or patterns occurring in nature and the universe.

Archaic patterns are highly developed elements which can be found in Nature and Universe.

What Sculptural Modelling?

Basic sculptural modelling deals with pure forms or archaic patterns. Introducing these forms to children gives a holistic approach or experience without necessity of explaining the principle to the child.

These forms resonates within the child and in nature. Working through the series of archetypal geometric shapes with the use of earthen clay is an artistic activity that can be taught in the lower school. The child is introduced to basic life forms. These forms are primary shapes occurring in nature from the simplest to the largest, it imparts a common form suggesting a unifying force that gives structure in nature and throughout the universe.

It a force uniting everything. Nature and Universe conforms to these certain unifying force that governs order and harmony.

The Child:

The desire to move around is innate to any child. It is part of his nature to play. Play is an inherent impulse in childhood. Much of this energy can be harnessed into artistic activities.
The artistic value of clay modelling resonates the adult’s capacity to willfully create or do something.

Through these interaction with clay, the child discovers how closely the human being is interwoven with the whole fabric of life in this world. They develop a perception of and sensitivity towards nature. These artistic activities provides the freedom of inner activity while they struggle with external material as clay resonates what we do in adult work.

The adult in the Child grows into maturity revealing itself in due time as the child regress in favour of adulthood.

Teaching Clay Modelling:
Having attended the workshop by Hella Loewe on Basic sculptural modelling, I was delighted to experience the artistic impulse as it resonates in my own childhood. I followed it through in my own class for three years extending it to fourth grade. Towards the last three months of third grade, archetypal forms of animals have been explored. My class worked on the inner gesture of the animals. They are still young and are not yet ready to make exact replicas of the animals.

In my four years of teaching sculptural modelling, I have observed that young children have that basic and innate desire to reshape and transform the earth. To shape and bring to form, to create is a primal impulse common to all.

My class used red clay. It has a different consistency, water retention and malleability than those that are commercially prepared. Natural clay have a certain texture that benefits touch, malleability that gives the experience of resistance and consistency that gives form.

The developmental value of clay modelling in Children are 1. It strengthens the hand’s grip and grasping 2. It refines gross and fine motor skills, 3. It develops the sense of touch 4. The sense of texture and 5. Makes them sensitive to temperature because water evaporates faster with heat. Emotionally, it also develops focus and concentration, exerting effort develops the willpower and are able to actively connect with the earth.