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Carve Wax Details into Pottery

Ryan McKerley shares his wax-resist carving process on this pottery bowl.

Materials and Tools:

porcelain clay
potter's wheel
metal and wood ribs
cutting wire
needle tool
large and small loop tools
electric frying pan
glaze tongs
glaze mixer
electric fire kiln
bucket of water
paper template
craft knife

1. Cut a piece of clay from the block of porcelain clay. Center it on a bat on the potter's wheel and throw a pot using a sponge, a metal rib and a bucket of water.

2. Trim the jar on the potter's wheel using metal trimming tools.

3. Cut the pot from the bat with a wire cutting tool. Turn the pot over on the bat and put it back on the potter's wheel. Carve out the center of the foot using a small loop tool.

4. Remove the pot from the potter's wheel and place it on a shelf until it is bone dry.

5. Heat wax in an electric frying pan.

6. Place the bowl right side up on a turntable. Dip a sponge into the hot wax and apply wax to the rim of the bowl while turning the turntable.

7. Turn the bowl over and apply hot wax to the foot of the bowl in the same manner.

8. Place a paper template on the turntable. Place the bowl upside down on the template and mark the designated points around the rim with pencil. Turn the bowl over and mark the points around the bottom.

9. Dip a paintbrush into the hot wax and paint it on the sides of the jar in the designated pattern, connecting the points on the rim to the points around the bottom. Continue dipping the brush into the wax and applying it to the bowl until the pattern is complete.

10. Scrub the unwaxed areas of the bowl with a wet sponge over and over again. The clay will erode away leaving recessed areas.

11. Carve away any unwanted wax with a craft knife.

12. Put the bowl into the electric kiln and bisque-fire to 1800 degrees for 16 hours. The wax will burn away.

13. Remove the bisque bowl from the electric kiln. Wash the bowl with water and a sponge.

14. Mix the glaze. Dip the bowl into the glaze, holding it with tongs.

15. Glaze-fire the pottery bowl in an electric kiln.

16. Remove the wax resist pottery bowl from the kiln.


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