Sculpting Grotesque Faces With New York Adventure Club

By: Danielle Desir

When was the last time you played with play dough? If you’re like me, it’s been a few decades. Playfully combining sculpting and wine, New York Adventure Club Play-Dough and Wine Night offered a fun and interactive experience where I learned how to sculpt using play-dough. No previous experience required.

The artist hard at work

The artist hard at work

New York Adventure Club is a community driven club that offers one-of-a-kind, behind the scene experiences all over New York. With a focus in history, this exclusive sculpting workshop celebrates classical art at the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art. This hands-on workshop is great for solo enthusiasts, friends, and couples. I even met a few tourists who decided to take the class to experience a different side of the city.

Walking into the sculpting studio, I felt inspired to get started. The studio was decorated with dozens of casts. Casts are reproductions of original pieces of art. Fun fact: the 19th-century collection at the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art was once featured in The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Casts once on display at the MET

Casts once on display at the MET

Our workshop started with an introduction to grotesque faces. Grotesque faces are distorted. They’re often strange, unpleasant and downright ugly.

Alongside renowned classical sculptor, Emily Bedard, we followed the footsteps of traditional sculpting students. She demonstrated how to sculpt with play-dough and started with the base. Play-dough is perfect for beginners since it’s easy to pull apart and manipulate into shapes. Play-dough is also inexpensive and easy to find.

The tools you need to get started

The tools you need to get started

Emily then detailed the additive sculpting process where we added play-dough to build the sculpture. In our case, we added details like the nose, mustache, and eyes. In a few minutes, Emily transformed a blob of purple play-dough into a sad grotesque face.

Above all else, our goal was to have fun, keep our sculptures simple and capture emotion. We sculpted at our own pace - squishing, rolling and carving. While sculpting we enjoyed wine, snacks and the classical music playing in the background.

Delicious spread

Delicious spread

When my sculpture’s face started to get lost, Emily skillfully saved the day by helping me mold one side. I spent the rest of the class following her lead.

My sleepy grotesque face looks so peaceful, don’t you think?

My groutesque creation

My groutesque creation

At the New York Adventure Club Play-Dough and Wine Night, not only did I get to learn a few classical sculpting techniques, but I also got to take my grotesque sculpture and cast home. With this cast, I can recreate this experience with my friends and family. For my next house party, I know exactly what activity I’m hosting.

 Danielle was a guest of the New York Adventure Club but the opinions are her own. To see upcoming events, such as Play-doh & Wine night, visit nyadventureclub.com