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Vietnamese man sculpts impressive mythical creatures from clay

Saturday, September 17, 2022, 10:00 GMT+7
Vietnamese man sculpts impressive mythical creatures from clay
Mythical creatures sculpted by Nguyen Hai Au in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

Nguyen Hai Au in Ho Chi Minh City has spent the past six years perfecting the art of sculpting mythical creatures from clay – a hobby he has managed to turn into a booming business.

Au was first inspired to begin sculpting after a visit to Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden when he was in middle school. 

A few years later, at the beginning of 2017, Au, then a college student, sculpted his first creature from clay – a 30cm-long dragon head.

It took him three days to complete the piece.

In 2022, Au is now selling his works at AT Arts and Crafts at 486/11A Phan Xich Long in Phu Nhuan District.

He also has plans to open classes for those who want to learn his craft.

Nguyen Hai Au and his models of mythical creatures. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Nguyen Hai Au and his models of mythical creatures. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

Au’s clay sculptures sell for between hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese dong to tens of millions Vietnamese dong depending on their complexity, size, and material. (US$1 = VND23,630)

“I mostly use clay, but sometimes I need to use other materials like wood, sand, stone, cement, plaster,” the 30-year-old artist said.

“I’ve made mythical creatures such as dragons, phoenixes, unicorns, lions, and vermilion birds for customers.”

A European-style dragon created by Nguyen Hai Au. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
A European-style dragon created by Nguyen Hai Au. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

The process to make a model includes designing the piece, shaping the clay, and painting.

It normally takes Au two to three hours for simple pieces and up to two months for more complicated models.

“Every step requires attention to detail, but the most time-consuming and exciting stage is designing a piece because I get to research the mythical creatures,” Hai Au said.

Nguyen Hai Au designs a mythical creature. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Nguyen Hai Au designs a mythical creature. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Nguyen Hai Au shapes a dragon from clay. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Nguyen Hai Au shapes a dragon from clay. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Nguyen Hai Au creates patterns for his model. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Nguyen Hai Au creates patterns for his model. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Nguyen Hai Au colors a model of a mythical creature. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Nguyen Hai Au colors a model of a mythical creature. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
It takes Hai Au anywhere from a few hours to a few months to create a model. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
It takes Hai Au anywhere from a few hours to a few months to create a model. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
A unicorn created by Nguyen Hai Au. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
A unicorn created by Nguyen Hai Au. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
A vermilion bird created by Nguyen Hai Au. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
A vermilion bird created by Nguyen Hai Au. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Mythical creatures sculpted by Nguyen Hai Au in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Mythical creatures sculpted by Nguyen Hai Au in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

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