Have You Sourced Your Ceramic Equipment And Supplies.
To begin your new project, you must first organize your work space with enough shelves for commercial production or you can use another space for storing and drying.
Have a roll of soft plastic or large garbage bags; you will need them for covering unfinished greenware or to facilitate the slow drying Of green ware.
Cutting tools for clay including a needle tool.
You will be creating commercial production, therefore time management and a brand is very important.
During my training courses, I always started with the use of leaves.
My favorite leaf is the sea grape leaf; it is a comfortable size and nice shape; but this is your brand; so choose a favorite leaf.
Look around your yard or neighborhood for an attractive and not too complicated leaf, the more simple the better for the beginning.
This is your first production exercise so do not choose large leaves, plus you have to always keep the size of your kiln shelves in mind.
A leaf around 6 to 7 inches in diameter for a round leaf or 5 inches wide by 5 to 6 inches long is a comfortable size for starters.
To influence your choice of leaves lets examine the kind of leaf products you can produce-trivets, candy or nut trays, soap dishes, holder for pins and clips etc. ; You might even have an original idea, don’t be afraid to try it.
Set the slab roller to roll clay to your preferred thickness; I normally suggest ¼ thickness for earthenware, a little thinner for stoneware .
I would not recommend porcelain for beginners.
Slab roller rule- you can roll your clay to thickness and length but not width. Always make sure your slab of clay is wide enough to accommodate the width of your leaf.
Rolling out of the clay-Watch this video on how to use the slab roller or just Goggle -How to Use the slab roller and pick your choice
Your slab roller should come with 2 lengths of canvas, one length will lay on the table to prevent the clay from sticking to the table, the second length to prevent the clay from sticking to the roller.
Roll the clay between the two sheets, learn this art first before attempting to roll clay, If it is not done correctly the canvas can get tangled up in the clay.
The clay will be in blocks about 5 to 6 inches by 12 inches long and 6 to 8 inches thick for rolling; cut the clay in 2 to 3 inch slabs, you will have to create a thin edge to start the rolling.
If possible try to arrange a visit to a ceramic workshop, community or art college that has a slab roller and observe or if you are close to a supplier ask for a demonstration.
There are two ways to roll out your leaves, If you have access to a large supply of leaves; after you have rolled the clay to the required thickness, place the leaf neatly over the clay and roll a second time; this will reproduce the leaf pattern on the clay.
Sheer some of the thickness off the stem or else the stem will go too deep into the clay creating a weakness.
You should leave a stem of about an inch long and exaggerate the width to about half an inch at least or to your taste; but beware; if the stem is too thin you will have unnecessary losses.
If your supply of leaves are limited make a template of the leaf from hard card or I/8 to 1/4 inch plywood.; you can then use a needle tool to copy and cut the leaf pattern.
You can copy the pattern on the leaf on to the clay, be careful not to go too deep into the clay, this also create a weaknesses in the clay.
You should aim to start with a minimum of 6 to 12 leaves per day.
When the leaves are leather hard, clean the edges with a damp sponge, write your signature at the back of the leaf or a position of you choice
Leave the green ware leaves on the shelf until they are bone dry.
Glazing and firing to come next.
I really enjoyed the two posts that claim that anybody can be a ceramic artist. They are so detailed and helpful to even a complete noob like me
Thanks, not claim but can, and has been proven several times; I once conducted a beginners class on a caribbean Island; a local hotel approached me to create a mural for a large wall; I gave the assignment to the class who undertook the assignment and got paid; They were all beginners and it was their first class and i did not participate in the assignment. They never told me how much and I didn’t ask; but they were all smiling. That was in 1987, 4 of the students from that class are still producing commercial ceramic products.
Hey Courtney Devonish,
I wanted to say- You did an amazing job explaining every little detail and aspect of this method You use to create stunning ceramic art. I really love how You carefully explain creation method with leaves. The design details was very informative also.This is very unique and exciting technique to try!
Keep up the good work 😉
Thank you, have you ever considered ceramics as a hobby?
Codedonish; thanks for your teaching review on Ceramic Art. You teaches the skill so plain and simple easy to understand. You seams to be doing this manually.
If one should desire to take this skill into a wider manufacturing production; Is there other mold that would be used or the leaf is the principal mold?
You are correct a mold can be used, It’s another expense and more space; but worth considering depending on the scale of the operation. I was concentrating on the slab roller for commercial production.
I enjoyed your article. I love ceramic art. I have always wanted to try ceramic art but I have always felt like I am not creative enough. But you took a leaf and made this so simple to do. And what a beautiful idea using a leaf. I am going to try this. I do have some questions since I have never made anything from clay before. Where do I buy the clay? Is there is certain type I should get? Do you add color to your ceramic art after it dries? Is it paint? I know nothing about ceramic art so I honestly do not know where to start. Thank you for any help you can provide me.
Thank you for your interest, believe me it is easy and I will uide you through the whole process. I suggest yoy Google ceramics and see who is your nearest supplier. My next post will be phase 2. Better to find a white 04 earthenware clay to begin with.Miami ceramics is the supplier I use. Are you in a tourist area , which leaf is a popular leaf in your neighborhood?