We present a new method for 3D shape modeling that achieves intuitive and robust deformations by emulating physically plausible surface behavior inspired by thin shells and plates. The surface mesh is embedded in a layer of volumetric prisms, which are coupled through non-linear, elastic forces. To deform the mesh, prisms are rigidly transformed to satisfy user constraints while minimizing the elastic energy. The rigidity of the prisms prevents degenerations even under extreme deformations, making the method numerically stable. For the underlying geometric optimization we employ both local and global shape matching techniques. Our modeling framework allows for the specification of various geometrically intuitive parameters that provide control over the physical surface behavior. While computationally more involved than previous methods, our approach significantly improves robustness and simplifies user interaction for large, complex deformations.