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Pop Art Paintbrush

Diane Emerson sculpts a pop art paintbrush from clay and decorates it with orange and black glaze and silver paint.

Materials and Tools:

1/2 pound of cone 05 red clay for the mold
1/4 pound of cone 05 red clay for the paintbrush
clay-wire cutter
1-1/2" wide flat brush with an unfinished wooden handle
clay-cutting knife
black and orange cone 05 glaze
silver metallic paint
assorted paintbrushes
canvas working surface
rolling pin

Steps 1-4


Note: The first 4 steps are about making the mold. In the segment, the mold had already been made and the project began with preparing the clay to press it into the mold.

1. Cut a half-pound of red clay from the block. Pound the clay into a one-inch slab the proportion of the paintbrush. If you set the brush on top of the clay slab there should be at least a one-inch border around where the brush impression will be made. Smooth the surface of the slab. A smooth surface will allow for a clear impression of the brush. Cut the mold down to size allowing for the one-inch space between the edge of the mold and where the brush will be pressed to make the mold.

2. Press the brush half way into the clay. Be careful of undercutting. This is when clay comes over the real paintbrush, causing the brush to tear the mold as you remove it. Also make sure to press a little harder on the bristle part of the brush. The brush will look fuller and more realistic if this is done.

3. Carefully remove the brush from the mold. Smooth out any undercuts and let the mold dry for two or three days. (To speed the drying process you can place in the sun for a few hours or place on the kiln lid during firing. Make sure the mold is almost dry when this is done. Speed drying can cause the mold to explode if the clay is too damp.) Fire at cone 05 (about 1900 degrees) for 4 hours.

4. Remove the mold from the kiln (image).

Steps 5-6

5. Cut a tennis ball size of clay from the block. Pound the clay into a shape, which will fill the negative space of the mold.

6. Press the clay into the mold using your fingers.

Step 7

7. Roll the clay with a rolling pin. This surface will be the back of the brush. Turn the mold and the clay over together so that the mold is on top of the brush impression. Pound once more.

Step 9

8. Now lift the mold away from the brush.

9. Check the impression to see how it worked. The mold my be put back on the clay and pressed again. Make sure to line everything up perfectly.

Steps 10-11

10. Cut away the extra clay leaving nothing but the paintbrush.

11. Smooth the sides of the clay brush with your fingers.

Step 12

12. The hole impression at the end of the handle can be opened up with the end of a small paintbrush handle. The hole would allow you to hang the brush and it also adds to the authenticity.

Steps 13-16

13. Use a toothbrush to enhance the bristle part of the brush where needed.

14. Let the brush dry for 4-5 or more days.

15. When completely dry it may be fired in the kiln at cone 05 (about 1900 degrees) for about 4 hours.

16. Remove the brush from the kiln.

Step 18

17. Rinse the brush and apply black glaze to the handle and the part of the bristles without paint.

18. Paint the end of the brush with orange glaze.

Step 19

19. Fire one more time at cone 05 (about 1900 degrees) for four hours.

Step 20

20. Remove the pop art paintbrush from the kiln and paint the base of the brush with silver metallic paint.

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