Plastic Arts


Plastic art is a branch of fine art. It is an art of moulding or modeling mostly in the form of three dimensional sculptures using materials such as clay or plaster. Plastic art is a visual art form. The word however finds its roots in “plasticize” which means to mould. Plastic art includes sculpting, pottery, ceramics, glass art, wood working etc.

Historical Background:

Plastic art is one of the oldest forms of art which has grown exponentially over the years. The history of plastic art dates back to Stone Age where people used to mould (carve) stones. The prehistoric examples include “Cupule art” of auditorium cave at Bhimbetka, Madhya Pradesh, India and “Venus of Berekhatram”. The other examples are ivory carvings of birds and animals discovered in Swabian Jura and “Terracotta Army” found in Xi’an, China.

Clay pottery, as we all are aware, was one of the main occupation and was wide spread activity during early ages. With the advent of Iron Age, metal was used for making sculptures and weapons. Gradually, gold, silver and other precious metals and stones were introduced and used in plastic art.

Different Types Of Plastic Art:

  • Ceramics: Ceramic art is a form of pottery wherein clay and other raw materials are mixed to make figures, tiles and table wares. The items are subjected to heat and then often coloured to make it colourful and glossy. Ceramics were part of early civilizations also and have a long history to boast of.
  • Glass Art: Glass art as the name signifies is an art of making three dimensional sculptures using glass. It can be crystal clear, opaque or can be made by using coloured glass material.
  • Metal Art: As the name suggests, it is a plastic art form where metals are moulded to make sculptures and decorative items. Moulding of metal for industrial use is outside the scope of plastic art. Metal art uses various metals ranging from precious metals likes Platinum, Gold, silver to readily available metals like iron.
  • Woodworking: Woodworking is also a form of plastic art where wood is carved and chiseled to produce different shapes and figures. Woodworking can be polished or without polish giving it a rough appearance. However, house construction or industrial cutting of woods are not included in plastic art and finds place either in architecture or applied arts stream.
  • Pottery: Pottery is a form of plastic art wherein clay is used as primary ingredient to create various figures and shapes. The object is subjected to heat and usually painted to give it an appealing look. Pottery is one of the oldest forms of plastic art. In rural areas pottery is still a major occupation. With the advancement in technology, traditional ways of pottery is making way for advanced tools. Pottery is also advocated by many agencies since it is eco-friendly and bio-degradable product.
  • Stone sculpting: As the name suggest, stone sculpting is a form of plastic art where stone is carved and chiseled to give it an artist’s vision. Mostly stone sculpting is done using sand stone and marble stones but other precious stones like Emerald, Ruby are also used. Stone sculptures are quite popular and most widely found. Statues of prominent personalities adorn modern roads and museums which are good examples of stone sculptures. Like pottery, stone sculpting is also one of the oldest forms of plastic art. Many old civilizations were practicing stone sculpting. Pyramids in Egypt are a glaring example of it.
  • Wielding: Wielding is also a form of plastic art where materials, usually metals are joined together using heat in a process called coalescence. Two or more materials are joined using a filler material which becomes a strong joint when it cools down. A glaring example of wielding is Iron Pillar of Delhi erected in 310 AD.

With modern technology, even, plastic materials like polymers are also used to make sculptures and have become an integral part of plastic art family. It is to be noted that with new technological innovations and better tools plastic art has become less time consuming and even cheaper. Plastic art is also used in performing arts usually for creating supporting back ground scenes.


Plastic art is a major branch of fine arts. There are many academic courses catering to the practice and theory of plastic art and students can opt for graduate or masters level degrees. Some universities even offer doctoral programs on plastic art. Many institutes of fine arts offer diploma and certificate courses on plastic arts. There is ample opportunity for plastic art artists with so many museums opening up for exhibitions and with growing number of patrons of art.

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