How to Carve a Light Switch Plate

Carve a unique design in linoleum, imprint it in clay and add an iron oxide finish to create a one-of-a-kind light switch plate.


Materials and Tools:

battleship linoleum
black permanent marker
linoleum knives
stoneware clay
slab roller
rolling pin
iron oxide
damp sponge
wall scraper
sheet of drywall
potato peeler
foam brush
nail or other sharp object


1. Draw a design on the linoleum with a black permanent marker.

2. Carve out the design with linoleum block knives.

3. Roll out the clay on the slab roller.

4. Smooth the clay with a drywall scraper.

5. Place the linoleum cut upside down on the clay and imprint the design in the clay by rolling over the linoleum with a rolling pin.

6. Cut the clay by running a knife around the outside of the linoleum.

7. Lift the clay and the linoleum from the table and place on a sheet of drywall, with the linoleum facing up. Remove the linoleum.

8. Make a paper template of the old switch-plate cover by tracing the switch openings the screw holes. Place the template on the clay and cut through the clay along the lines you traced, using a knife for the switch openings and a nail or other sharp object for the screw holes. Allow the switch plate to dry to the leather-hard stage.

9. Sand and finish the holes for countersinking the screws. Trim the edges with a potato peeler. Let the clay dry completely, which will take about a week.

10. Bisque-fire the piece in the kiln.

11. Apply iron oxide to the design surface with a foam brush. Remove the excess iron oxide with a damp sponge to highlight the texture.

12. High-fire the piece to 2,400 degrees.

13. Install the switch plate with screws.

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