How to Make a Clay Garden Sphere

Create a unique piece of outdoor art with speckled stoneware clay and clay-carving tools

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Materials and Tools:

speckled stoneware clay
wire clay cutter
slab roller or rolling pin
round balloon
assorted clay tools: pin tool, carving tools, soft rubber rib
wooden pizza paddle
chartreuse-green commercial glaze
paintbrush
small sponge
water
stilts
electric kiln
display stand

Steps:

1. Cut four 1-inch thick pieces of clay from a stoneware-clay brick.

2. Place the four pieces in an overlapping square.

3. Roll the four sections through a slab roller to form one large slab of clay.

4. Blow up a round balloon half-full of air.

5. Wrap the clay slab around the balloon and remove any excess clay.

6. Pinch the clay together and smooth it with your fingers to cover the entire surface of the balloon.

7. Continue smoothing and shaping the clay around the balloon with a rubber rib until it becomes a sphere.

8. Tap the ball with a wooden pizza paddle to continue the shaping.

9. Once the ball shape is formed, use the pin tool to pierce the clay and pop the balloon inside. Note: It's OK to leave the balloon inside; it will just burn out in the kiln. Or if you decide to poke holes in the sphere as part of the design, you may be able to gently remove it through a hole in the clay. Either way, be sure there's a small hole in the sphere to allow heat to escape in the firing.

10. Allow the ball to dry to the leather hard stage.

11. Carve words or a design into the sphere with various clay-carving tools.

12. Allow the piece to finish drying to the bone dry stage.

13. Bisque fire the ball in an electric kiln. Let cool and remove from the kiln.

14. Paint glaze onto the ball.

15. Use a damp sponge to remove any excess glaze from the surface of the ball, allowing only the glaze in the carved areas to remain.

16. Fire the glazed sphere on stilts in an electric kiln for the final finish.

17. Display on a stand.

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