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Ceramic Cats

Learn how to make ceramic cats for a touch of unique style in the home.

Project by Gary Steinborn from Venice, Calif.

Gary makes families of clay cats in his beachside studio. He says his little girls are his muses, who inspire him to make these charming, fun felines. Gary makes a mold so he can create "litters" of cats. A single cat can be handmade, as well.

Materials and Tools:

water-based low-fire modeling clay
number one pottery plaster mold
low-fire white casting slip
low-fire satin matte glaze
wooden sticks
clay tools
dental tools
kiln
sandpaper

Steps:

1. Pinch the clay with your fingers and model it further with wooden sticks, clay and dental tools. Model clay into desired shape.

2. Bisque-fire the piece and allow to cool.

3. Sand the form very smooth.

4. Create a plaster mold. The mold may have to be in two to eight parts that fit together like a puzzle to form the shapes in between the legs and ears or other open areas depending upon design.

5. Put the mold together with straps and pour liquid clay inside. Allow the clay to sit in the mold to form a hollow shell (like a chocolate bunny at Easter).

6. Pour out excess clay and open the mold.

7. Carefully remove the piece and add details like the eyes.

8. When the piece comes out of the mold, it has a lot of defects called seam lines. All the seam lines have to be carefully scraped off with a clay tool. After the scraping, the pieces are dried.

9. Further finish the pieces by sponging with water and sanding to give them a perfectly smooth surface.

10. After all the finishing is done, put the pieces in a large glass kiln and bake at about 2000 F degrees.

11. After the pieces are taken out of the bisque kiln, line them up ready to be glazed on the glazing shelf in the bisque tent, separated out by their colors.

12. Spray glaze onto the piece(s) with a spray gun or dip into glaze. The glaze will look dull and chalky until it is baked again to 2000 F degrees.

13. After being coated with the powdered glass called glaze, the pieces are loaded into a high-temperature glaze kiln for a glaze firing.

14. After the glaze firing, the piece will have a satin-finish colored glaze.

Web site: www.veniceclay.com

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