My excitement about fixing up an old Thinkpad T30 and installing a Linux OS has inspired me to create Tux the penguin out of clay.

  1. First, I mixed a black with a gray with a slight shimmer, and worked the mixture until it was uniform in appearance.

  1. Then, I molded the clay into a pear shape. Save a small chunk to make his flippers.

  1. To make the bib, I rolled out a small ball of shimmery white, and made it slightly oblong with one end thicker than the other. Then I squished it flat on the table, and shaped it as you see above.

  2. The bib can be gently pressed into the white. I definitely made this piece too thick – it would have looked much better a bit thinner.

  1. I toned down the yellow clay by mixing it with white, and then prepared a beak bottom and top by making two small triangles. I actually only needed one of the triangles, and I used my fingernail to mark the “lips.”

  1. Place the lips directly at the top of the white bib.

  1. Eyes are fairly easy – two small white circles, and then two slightly smaller black circles for the pupils. You can use the eyes to convey expression. For mine, since this guy is a graphic, I went with a generic stare.

  1. Separate the remaining black clay into two pieces, and roll each piece into a 3/4 inch log. Flatten one end slightly more than the other to get the “flipper shape” below. To attach them, I like to make X’s on the back of the surface being attached, and the surface I am attaching to. I then take a rounded tool and work the edges together, as you can see below. After merging, you can use your finger or a smooth tool to get rid of the rough edges.

  1. Tux after getting his flippers! In retrospect I would have made the flippers thinner at the top as well. It’s a delicate balance of making the piece substantial enough to not crack immediately when/after it’s baked, and making things tiny/delicate/thin/beautiful!

  1. To make the feet, I mixed some more yellow and white, and formed two small balls to attach to his bottom for “legs” (as you can see on the left). I then made two slightly larger balls and formed them into thin isosceles triangles. I put the triangles together, side by side, with the smallest angles touching at the bottom. This is the corner that will be integrated with the leg stubs. On the top, I pinched together the inner edges to make a center toe, and used a pencil to indent the center of each top, creating the impression of two outside toes.

  1. The last step was to gently work the feed into the body and legs, as was done with the flippers.

  1. The general rule for clay is to bake it on a clean sheet at 250 degrees, 15 minutes for every 1/4″ thickness.

  1. Tux was in there about 45 minutes.

  1. Finished! I gave him a quick glaze to bring out the shimmer in the body.

And here comes my perfectionist nature – he’s cute, but all I see is what is wrong with him! These are the things that I would do differently if I gave this a round 2:

  1. I created this guy without looking at any sort of picture for reference. I should have made the beak less square, and more oval.
  2. The white “bib” piece is way too thick.
  3. The feet needed to be slightly smaller, more separated, and pointed outwards.
  4. The top of his head should have a little more length to it.
  5. The eyes are slightly different in size, and I should have gone with my instinct and added expression.
  6. I forgot to make the nose holes!
  7. His body is tilted slightly backwards, and I’d like it better if it were more perpendicular.
  8. My use of glaze was not wise. It would have added most to the piece if his eyes and beak had a slight glaze, and possibly the white part of his body, and nothing else.

Suggested Citation:
Sochat, Vanessa. "The Merging of Penguin and Clay - Tux!." @vsoch (blog), 25 Jun 2010, (accessed 04 Feb 24).