How to Make a Ceramic Garden Sculpture

Sculpt facial features and flowers from clay to create a whimsical work of garden art.
hclvr245_3final5

hclvr245_3final5

Materials and Tools:                                    

cone 6 sculpture clay
sculpture clay slip
iron-oxide stain
cone 6 glazes
slab roller or rolling pin
newspaper
sculpting tools
kiln
masking tape

Steps:

1. Roll out a slab of clay 3/8-inch thick with a slab roller or a rolling pin.

2. Crumple newspaper to form a half-egg shape or the shape of the front half of a skull. This is a rough shape, not detailed. Hold the newspaper in place with masking tape.

3. Drape the clay slab over the newspaper form, overlapping the form on all sides. This begins the collar that surrounds the face, to which flowers and foliage will be attached. Detail the face by pressing thumbs into the clay to create the eye sockets.

4. Roll two equally sized balls of clay to form the eyes. Attach the eyes in the center of the eye sockets. Use small pieces of clay to pinch out eyelids shaped like crescent moons. Attach eyelids above and below the eyeballs. Attach strips of clay above the eyes to form eyebrows. Define the eyes with sculpting tools. Scoop out the center of each eye to form the pupil.

5. Slip and score a triangular area where the nose will be attached. Roughly form the nose separately with a piece of clay. Slip and score the back of the nose and attach it to the face. Define the nose in a realistic manner with sculpting tools. Cut an oval shape around the outside.

6. Form the lips in the same manner as the nose and attach it to the face.

7. Continue using sculpting tools to realistically define the face. Create laugh lines around the eyes and the mouth to show expression.

8. Add clay to the collar that surrounds the face as needed to create a 2-inch-wide collar. Slice thin triangular wedges out of the collar to prevent cracking during the drying process.

9. Turn the face over, remove the newspaper and add two coils of clay to the inside edges of the face. These are the wire-hanger attachments. Place the newspaper form back inside the face cavity and turn the piece back over.

10. Create flowers and foliage by pinching and shaping clay into petal and leaf forms.

11. Attach the flowers and foliage to the collar around the face with slip. Cut away any part of the collar that's visible once the collar is covered with plants.

12. Allow the piece to dry for two to three weeks. Remove the newspaper form from beneath the face. Bisque-fire the piece in the kiln to cone temperature 04.

13. After the first firing, stain the face with red iron oxide mixed with water. Use a sponge dipped in water to clean the face of stain. The stain remaining in the cracks and crevasses of the face create depth and dimension in the face.

14. Paint the flowers and foliage with different-colored cone 6 glazes.

15. Fire the piece in the kiln to cone temperature 6.

16. Thread wire through the loops at the back of the sculpture for hanging.

Keep Reading

Next Up

How to Make an Ice Lantern

Use winter's frosty temps to your advantage when decorating your home's outdoors for the holidays. These ice lanterns are pretty, festive and just require water, plastic containers and a chill in the air.

How to Make a Cat Condo

Use everyday items to build a fancy cat post with baskets.

How to Make a Rosemary Gin-Ginger Cocktail

On a winter evening you need flavors that are bold enough to match the crisp outdoor temperatures. Try this easy cocktail to warm you up. 

How to Make Mercury Glass Votives

Transform inexpensive glass votives and hurricanes into faux "mercury glass" candle holders using silver and gold leaf. These chic, handmade accessories will bring a little shine to any Christmas arrangement.

How to Make a Wood Cutting Board

Woodworking projects can be intimidating, but this project is actually easier than you may think. With basic shop materials and dense hardwood, which is the best wood for cutting boards, you'll be able to create a chef-worthy chopping accessory that any foodie would love.

How to Make Giant Christmas Ornaments

Light up your exterior entryway with these fun and festive oversized ornaments.

How to Make Glittered Mason Jar Lanterns

Craft your own sparkling holiday lanterns on the cheap! Glitter, glue and an empty glass jar are all you need.

How to Make Rolled Paper Roses

Paper flowers fashioned from old book pages, newspaper or brown Kraft paper are a frugal alternative to store-bought ribbons and bows.

How to Make Mini Pinecone Elf Ornaments

Everyone loves an adorable, handmade ornament, and this miniature elf will bring instant cheer to any holiday tree.

How to Make a Tea Bag

Make morning tea extra special with a handmade tea bag filled with a delicious herbal blend and a special love note

Shop This Look

Found a living space you love in HGTV's Photo Library? Get the look in your own home with products from Wayfair.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.