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What Are the Plastic Arts?

By Patti Kate
Updated May 23, 2024
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Plastic arts may refer to any form of art that is created by molding and sculpting in a variety of media. Creations may be made with a wide range of materials, ranging from modeling clay to iron. Some artists also make sculptures or functional pieces from recycled plastic. While visual art is typically one dimensional and produced on canvas or paper using ink or paint, plastic art is three dimensional and usually involves intricate carving or chiseling.

When creating art or functional pieces from ceramic clay, artists use tools such as cutters putty knives. Cutting knives and wires are other essential items most clay sculptors own. A trim blade, which has a flat base and sharp point, is helpful for removing excess pieces of clay. After a sculpted piece of clay is formed, the artist will place it inside a kiln, which is a type of oven that heats the material at a high temperature, removing liquid from it.

Not all plastic arts are created with ceramic clay, terracotta, or marble. An ancient Japanese art form known as origami is created by folding paper into various shapes to create a design. Paper folding is a plastic arts form that can be practiced with papers of various sizes and colors. Many practice this art using various tools such as tweezers and rulers, which may help perfect the origami creation.

Woodworking and glassblowing are other branches of plastic art. Many skilled artisans sculpt designs from wood to create functional art such as furniture. Glass blowing may involve making glass sculptures or more commonly, glass bowls, vases, and jars.

Those who participate in plastic arts may find taking special courses can help perfect their craft. In addition, there are online tutorials and books that teach the fundamentals of arts like glassblowing. This plastic arts form is perfected by melting pieces of glass, then sculpting it to a desired shape. To melt the sculpted glass and achieve the desired form, special tools are often needed. In addition to functional items such as bowls and vases, sculptures and figurines may also be created from glass.

Another form of plastic art known as woodworking often involves creating wood sculptures. Woodworking also involves creating functional items such as furniture and shelving. Perfecting woodworking, or any plastic art, often takes time, patience, and skill.

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Discussion Comments
By lluviaporos — On Apr 06, 2014

@Mor - It all depends on what you want from your final product. I think a lot of artists these days have multiple skills and can pretty much do almost anything to manipulate the materials into the shape they want. They might take stuff found in a junkyard, they might carve it or melt it or paint it or bash it into shape.

The kinds of art I love best are the ones that make something beautiful and unique y using a variety of techniques.

By Mor — On Apr 05, 2014

@Ana1234 - Glass blowing might be fairly specialized, but there are other ways to sculpt with glass that aren't nearly as difficult to get into. I have several friends who make stained glass windows, for example, which I suspect would be considered a plastic art, because you are shaping panes of glass and metal into patterns.

There are also people who make glass beads and jewelry using a kiln by simply melting pieces of glass together in different ways.

Compared with these, I'd say that wood working is probably more difficult actually. Although it's tough to really compare different skills in art.

By Ana1234 — On Apr 05, 2014

I've always wanted to be able to make something from glass. It just seems like such a specialized artform. Clay or wood can be manipulated by anyone, but in order to play with glass you have to build up a set of specialized skills before you can even give it a try. I've seen a few glass blowers at work and it looks like a lot of fun too.

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