Modeling clay is a build up and reduction technique which requires good preparation and hand skills. It is also an integrating way to find a subtle and rich connection between the vision of the product, the feel of handling it, the gestures of receiving, and how it will explain itself to others. By contrast, reduction techniques with machines have the advantage of precision but lack this haptic transfer. The wood-carver, stone cutter, potter and weaver have time to think and because the sense-usual (sensual) work has deep connection between object and understanding happen in practice (praxis). If you are doing a “Bildnersche Gestaltung” focus in Gymnasium (arts and crafts focus in high school level) then you probably have some experience working with plaster and clay. This is true 3D modeling, where you mould and carve what you imagine and must figure out every small intersection and detail that will be in the finished product and experience. The trick about working with clay models is to prepare well before you start by making: good plans, sections and profiles to guide you in your work. Also important before you start is to have the step sequence written down so you know what you will be doing.
In reduction sequence fabrication like, furniture and product parts making, it is often a good idea to make an extra copy from the start, so you don’t have to start over if something goes wrong. I like working with clay, Fimo, wood and wax details because I am interested in working with non toxic materials. If you make a lot of models and do spray painting, you end up with a lot of toxic stuff in your body. If you want to make quick studies of book sized or smaller objects than modeling clay and styrofoam or MDF help you to get the object to a reasonable form study in a few hours. It is a good idea to make several rough models before starting the definitive version for showing. Even then the definitive model should be rigorously tested with people and scenarios to find how it is to live with and what should be improved. The kind of quiet concentration and ease if movement that one needs to make good model and prototype making is parallel in practice to doing.
Tools: Everyone knows that the tools and technologies define to a large extent what you can make with a given process. But the history of science, design and art is full of stories where someone found by accident a way to get more than what was expected from technique and tools. So don’t accept limits too early. Gather your tools, make good templates, guides and form scrapers that you need before you start and if a process seems risky, do a practice piece to get the competence so that all goes well with the finished model. For a film about how they do automotive clay modeling of a small model go to