How to Sculpt a Ceramic Pear

This realistic ceramic pear project features rich glaze highlights.


Materials and Tools:

low-fire white clay
underglazes in rich yellows, greens, browns and a touch of red
clear crackle glaze
potter's wheel
rib tools
clay-cutting wire
rubber-tip shaping tool
needle tool
electric kiln
plastic (to cover pear while drying)
leaf stamp
rotary tool
black acrylic paint
latex gloves


1. Cut a piece of clay from the block with a clay-cutting wire. Wedge the clay to remove air bubbles, and align the clay particles for throwing.

2. Place the clay on a bat on a potter's wheel and center the clay. Throw the initial cone form on the potter's wheel.

3. Let the thrown shape set for up to a week, covered with cloth and plastic.

4. Trim excess clay on the bottom to provide a large enough hole to fit two fingers. Note: This is where a logo may be attached.

5. Smooth the clay by wiping it with a wet sponge and stroking it with a rib. Sculpt the pear shape by poking indentations in the side with the handle of a paintbrush. Add texture to the sides with a brush tool.

6. Shape a coil thick enough for a stem.

7. Attach the stem by scoring the inside edges of the top and pressing the stem into the opening with slip.

8. Roll a thin clay slab for leaves and let it sit for 20 minutes.

9. Stamp leaves into the clay with a homemade leaf stamp.

10. Cut out individual leaves with a clay knife.

11. Attach the leaf to the pear neck by scoring and using slip.

12. Check the pear for cracks or weak attachment points.

13. Lightly sponge the pear for a smooth overall surface.

14. Set the pear aside to dry for a week, covered with plastic so the stem doesn't dry too quickly, and check occasionally.

15. Once it's fully dry, wipe the pear with a sponge for a smooth finish.

16. Load the kiln. Fire the pear in the kiln for 12 hours.

17. Remove the pear from the kiln and clean with a sponge.

18. Paint on the underglaze layers, starting with light colors and ending with dark brown sponged on around the hip down to the bottom of the pear.

19. Add very dark brown glaze to the nicks in the pear to highlight selected areas.

20. Splatter brown dots by flicking your finger across a toothbrush to which a small amount of brown glaze has been applied.

21. Paint the stem brown and the leaf green.

22. Wipe away the underglaze on the leaf and the stem at specific areas to bring out the relief pattern of the leaf and the stem.

23. Apply a thick coat of clear crackle glaze all over the outside of the pear except the stem and the leaf.

24. Glaze the inside of the pear with a thin coat.

25. Inspect the pear and touch up where needed.

26. Load the kiln, placing the pear on prongs, and fire for 12 hours.

27. Unload the kiln.

28. Sand the bottom of the pear to remove the prong marks, using a rotary tool.

29. Wearing latex gloves, apply water-based black paint and rub it off to highlight the cracks in the pear.

30. Wash the pear and let it dry.

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