How to Make an Etched Ceramic Vase

Etch a creative design in a ceramic vase to match any style room.


Materials and Tools:

electric potter's wheel
plaster clay-wedging table
container of water
wooden bat
cone 5 white stoneware clay
needle tool
metal rib
wooden chisel tool
colored clay slip (engobe)
Giffin Grip centering tool
banding wheel
various paintbrushes
various etching/carving tools
scrubbing pad
wax resist
cone 5 clear glaze
gas kiln


1. Wedge the clay into a round shape.

2. Place a wooden bat on a potter's wheel head. Place the clay on the bat.

3. Lubricate your hands and the clay with water and center the clay on the wheel.

4. Throw a cylinder to the desired height and shape.

5. Smooth all throw lines from the vase with a metal rib.

6. Apply a smooth, even layer of clay slip of various colors to the surface of the vase with paintbrushes.

7. Set the vase aside to dry until leather-hard, two to three days.

8. Set the vase back on the wheel, using the Giffin Grip to center it, and trim the bottom of the vase. Etch bands into the surface of the vase with carving tools. Let dry to a bone-dry stage.

9. Place the vase on a banding wheel and pencil-sketch the leaf design or a design of your choosing on the surface of the vase.

10. Using carving tools, etch through the pencil lines and the layer of colored slip to expose the white stoneware beneath.

11. Use a carving tool and a metal rib to scrape away all areas of slip that define the background design.

12. Clean off all the clay dust with a paintbrush and scrubbing pad.

13. Load the piece into the kiln and bisque-fire to cone 04, or 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

14. Remove the cooled vase from the kiln, rinse with water, apply wax resist to the bottom of the vase and dip in clear glaze.

15. Load the vase back into the kiln and glaze-fire to cone 5, or 2,180 degrees Fahrenheit.

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