How to Make a Polychrome Clay Bowl

Use painter's tape and glazes of various colors to create a design for a decorative sculpted bowl.


Note: This bowl isn't safe for food consumption-it's for decorative purposes only.

Materials and Tools:

14 pounds of earthenware clay
pug mill
potter's wheel
clay wire cutter
water, sponge, rags
electric turntable
loop trimming tool
blue painter's tape
utility knife or razor blade
low-fire glazes in 8 or 9 colors
black ceramic stain


1. Cut off a large piece of clay. Wedge the clay or run it through a pug mill to eliminate air bubbles.

2. Place the clay on the potter's wheel.

3. Center the clay and throw a bowl, stretching it with ribs and your hands.

4. Place the bowl on an electric turntable to stiffen in the sun for 15 to 20 minutes.

5. Put the bowl back on the potter's wheel and continue to stretch the bowl until the desired shape is attained.

6. When the bowl is leather-hard, flip it over and put it back on the potter's wheel to trim the bottom with a loop-trimming tool.

7. Let the bowl dry completely to a bone-dry stage.

8. Bisque-fire the bowl in the kiln to cone 04 or 1,928 degrees.

9. Draw a line in pencil around the inside rim of the bowl, 3 to 4 inches from the center. Sketch the desired design on the inside and outside of the bowl.

10. Cut painter's tape the desired width with a utility knife or razor blade. Tape off sections of the bowl to create borders between colors, stretching the tape and anchoring it to the bisque clay with light pressure.

11. Cut leaf shapes out of the tape with a razor blade. Make sure the tape is pressed down firmly and doesn't buckle around curves.

12. Apply glazes to the design, using three to six coats per color. Let dry.

13. Remove or peel away the tape.

14. Remove glaze particles with a dry brush. Fire to cone 06 or 1,850 degrees in an electric kiln on "medium." Firing will take about 7½ hours.

15. After the kiln has completely cooled, remove the polychrome bowl and gently rub the ceramic black stain into the taped lines.

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