Here you can see Duncan sculpting a maquette of a unicorn in clay. A maquette is a small model prototype for a much larger work and is sometimes created by sculptors to act as a trial run. It’s especially useful if you’ve never made anything remotely similar and gives sculptors the opportunity to iron out imperfections and learn from their errors before tackling the larger piece.
You may wonder how making something in clay could possibly be useful when the final work is going to made of ice, and it’s a fair question. The techniques used on different media vary considerably. However, making a maquette in clay gives ice sculptors a permanent 3D visual reference from which to work, showing all the possible angles that may be needed. This is especially helpful if your material of choice is ice or something that isn’t quite so hardy.