How to Make a Ceramic Teacup

Trace a pattern onto clay and etch it to create decorative pottery.


Materials and Tools:

clay (a very plastic hybrid of white stoneware and porcelain clays)
underglazes in various commercial colors
clear glaze
potter's wheel
clay tools: ribs, loop, wooden shapers
wire clay-cutting tool
foam sponge brush
tracing paper
pointed wooden tool such as a chopstick
plastic wrap
nontoxic underglazes
small fine-tipped bottle
giffin grip
glaze bottle
glaze-dipping tongs
drill with paint mixer


1. Weight out a ¾-pound piece of white stoneware clay and pound it on the table to remove any air bubbles.

2. Place the clay ball on a bat and put it on the potter's wheel.

3. Form a cup shape with the clay on the potter's wheel.

4. Shape the form with rib tools, wooden shaper tools and a needle tool to even out the rim.

5. Remove the bat from the wheel and run a wire under the cup to release it from the bat.

6. Let the clay cup harden and dry.

7. Shape the bottom of the cup with a loop tool, and smooth it with a rib tool.

8. Dry the clay until it's leather-hard.

9. Draw a pattern on tracing paper, and trace the pattern onto the cup with a pointed wooden tool.

10. Remove the paper and carve the pattern into the teacup, using a small wire loop tool to remove the clay by going over the traced lines.

11. Carve images freehand on the surface of the cup with the same loop tool. Brush off the clay carving bits with a paintbrush. Smooth out any fingerprints or other unwanted marks with a rib tool.

12. Put the teacup under plastic to dry.

13. Once the cup is dry, paint the images with nontoxic underglazes.

14. Bisque-fire the cup in an electric kiln to about 1,800 degrees. Let cool.

15. Use a small bottle with a very fine tip filled with underglaze to fill in all the carved lines on the cup.

16. Wax the bottom of the cup with a sponge brush to prevent the glaze from sticking to the bottom of the cup.

17. Using glazing tongs, dip the cup into a clear gloss glaze.

18. Fire the teacup again in the electric kiln to about 2,200 degrees. Let cool.

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