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Create a Palm Tree Vase

J. Forest Ocean Bennett shapes clay into a tube and uses leaf shapes to make this tropical vase.

Materials and Tools:

cone 10 Nash White clay
ocher stain
turquoise blue cone 10 glaze
stony matt white or clear glaze
needle tool
rib tool
rolling pin
electric kiln
cloth-covered board
clay cutting wire
piece of burlap
cardboard tube
bowl of water

Steps 1-2

1. Cut off a large and small segment of clay and place them on a cloth-covered board.

2. Use your hands to flatten both pieces of clay into flat shapes. Set the small one aside for the base. Flip over the large piece and pat it again. Roll out the slab to an even thickness with a rolling pin. Place a piece of burlap on top of the clay sheet and roll it with the rolling pin to add texture to the clay. Remove the burlap.

Step 4

3. Cover a cardboard tube with newspaper. Place the tube on the clay sheet.

4. Roll the slab around the tube, score the edge with a rib tool and secure it with a bit of water. Cut off one end of the clay even with the end of the tube. Stand the clay-wrapped tube upright.

Step 5

5. Form the smaller slab into a pancake shape for the base and add texture by rolling over the burlap in the same way as the large clay sheet. Score the clay base, score the clay at the bottom of the tube and wet both areas with water from a spray bottle.

Step 6

6. Place the end of the tube of rolled clay on top of the base, centering the clay pieces together. Slide out the cardboard tube and newspaper.

Steps 7-9

7. Make another very thin slab of clay for the leaves.

8. Cut out three leaf shapes with a needle tool, knife or pointed stick.

9. Cut the frond detail into each leaf with a needle tool.

Steps 10-12

10. Make a dowel-shaped piece of clay for the palm tree trunk.

11. Squeeze the trunk between your thumb and fingers to make ridges in the trunk.

12. Secure the trunk to the vase top and bottom with a little water and firm pressure, scoring both surfaces beforehand to roughen them.

Steps 13-14

13. Secure the three leaf fronds to the side of the vase near the top of the trunk by scoring the clay and adding water. Pinch the top of the vase to shape it.

14. Let the clay dry for two to three hours. Bisque-fire the vase in an electric kiln and remove when cool.

Step 15

15. Glaze the inside of the low-fired vase with white or clear glaze to waterproof the vase. Stain the trunk brown with the ocher stain mixed with water.

Steps 16-17

16. Glaze the leaves with turquoise glaze using a paintbrush.

17. Fire the palm tree vase again in an electric kiln. Remove when cool.

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