I hollowed out the back of the model today which will help let the clay start to firm up a bit, I also did a little minor work on it as well.
The sculptor has to work around and with the materials and the “mood” of the materials, clay definitely has a “Mood” that depends on the humidity in the room, how moist the clay is, how thick the clay piece is and what is being made with it.
When the clay is fresh it’s very pliable and soft, it can also be sticky which makes using tools difficult as the clay wants to stick to the tool.
I usually use just fingertips initially for those reasons, then as the clay starts to lose some of the moisture and become firmer and less sticky, then shaping with tools comes in. It’s a process that the clay won’t allow to be rushed, the degree of this also depends on the exact clay being used.
I find this red clay seems to be “stickier” and needs more time to dry to firm up than other clays, but the beauty of this red clay is that it has absolutely no tendency to warp or crack, that’s not to say it can’t or won’t but it’s been my experience with it that it’s been extremely stable, so that aspect tends to override the slight negative of stickiness or having to wait longer for it to firm up.
Here’s a newer photo: