I recently found myself in a clay building mood, and clay boxes just happened to be on my lesson plan list. I figured, what better way to cure my artsy urge than to kill two birds with one stone, and create an example for my next lesson. I decided to make a set of three, the same shape and size, but with different decorating techniques. For a moment I considered listing customizable ceramic boxes on Etsy. Potential customers could request different initials and flowers to decorate their boxes, and they could be cute wedding related gifts. However, after making these three I was over constructing with clay for awhile. I guess I am still searching for my Etsy niche, I need something I have fun making, and won’t get sick of!
The simplest of the three is the “W” box. I used white clay as a base, and pressed a piece of patterned rubber into the still damp clay before I put it together. Once it was pieced together I cut out a W letter, pressed the patterned rubber into it, and scored and slipped it onto the box.
To emphasize the pattern I decided to loosely paint brown glaze on the box, then rub it of with a sponge. This left the glaze in the recessed areas of the pattern, but removed it from the raised areas. I repeated this process with blue glaze, then painted the W and interior with Tawny and blue glaze. The end result wasn’t what I expected, but it was a happy accident. I didn’t entirely wipe the glaze off of the raised areas, and the glaze ended up staining the white clay a pinkish color.
This box is slightly more complex than the last, with the hand built flower on top. To create this piece I took burlap and lace, pressed them into the damp clay before I constructed it. Once the box was pieced together I created a flower by layering flattened pieces of clay. I used the same glazing technique as the “W” box, rubbing the glaze off after it was applied, but I added a thin layer of celadon glaze on top of the partially wiped away brown glaze. I used a coral color glaze to paint the flower and I painted the inside with celadon.
This box combines the flower building and letter cutting technique into one. Like the other boxes I pressed burlap and lace onto the damp clay and used a dark brown glaze to emphasize the pattern. I clear glazed it, painted the interior with coral, and painted the “P” and hydrangeas with celadon glaze.
This is a fun project to do on your own, if you have access to clay and a kiln, or with students in an art class. I often teach box building because it covers template and slab building techniques. For design inspiration I have my students think of something they want to protect, tangible or intangible. They must create the shape and design to reflect that object. This is a lesson I will be teaching before the end of the semester, I hope to photograph the process and post the lesson in my “art lessons” section. If you are interested in seeing it, keep checking back!
I hope you liked today’s post about my recent ceramic box building day. These three are available for purchase on my Etsy shop here. Thanks for stopping by and helping be spread the word about my blog!