How to Make Ceramic and Metal Garden Art

Make a ceramic face and attach it to transmission gear to create a whimsical garden sculpture.

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Materials and Tools:

stoneware clay
wooden knives
potter's wheel
blowtorch
trimming tools
clay-cutting wire
metal rib
kiln
red iron oxide
3-foot length of ¼-inch steel rod
welder
plasma cutter
18-gauge steel
transmission gear
silicone glue
caulking gun
sponges
bucket of water

Steps:

1. Center a 2-pound ball of clay on the potter's wheel and form it into a dome. Smooth the dome with a metal rib.

2. Torch the clay with a blowtorch to dry it a bit and make it easier to carve. Torching removes excess water and results in a non-sticky piece.

3. Carve the clay to form the face. Carve out the eyes, rough in the mouth and lips, form the creases around the nose and lips and chin, and add eyebrows and the nose.

4. Set the ceramic face aside to dry to a leather-hard stage. This may take anywhere from an hour to six weeks depending on the climate and time of year. When the piece has reached a leather-hard stage, hollow out the back side to make it lighter (thick wares tend to blow up in the kiln). Allow the piece to dry to a bone-dry state.

5. Bisque-fire the ceramic face in the kiln.

6. Glaze the ceramic face with red iron oxide, allow it to dry and then sponge off the top surface of the piece, leaving heavy iron in the crevices and making the iron on the surface in the high places much thinner.

7. Fire the piece in a gas-fired kiln to 2,400 degrees.

8. Cut a metal rod and grind down the ends.

9. Cut out metal leaves from 18-gauge steel with a plasma cutter.

10. Weld the transmission gear to the top of the rod and weld the leaves onto the rod.

11. Remove the ceramic face from the kiln and apply silicone glue with a caulking gun around the back edge. Glue it to the gear. Allow the piece to dry for 24 hours before moving.

12. Glue the ceramic face to the gear. Allow the piece to dry for 24 hours before moving.

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