Body adornment is one of the oldest art forms so it is no surprise that clay has been used as a jewelry material for a very long time. I have been messing around with making pendants lately and was excited to peruse the new book Ceramic Jewelry when it came across my desk. The book didn’t disappoint. It is packed with great information on designing and forming jewelry with clay, as well as guidelines for working with metal findings and incorporating other materials into the mix.


Today, I am sharing a nice little project from Joanna Veevers, in which designs are scratched into a plaster slab and then casting slips of different colors are poured and painted over the slab to make colorful brooches (like those shown at left). Take it away Joanna! –Jennifer Harnetty, editor.


This technique allows a fine, delicate line to be scored into the surface of a plaster block, which will form a raised decoration on the surface of soft clay pressed into it. This intricate design can be reproduced quickly once the plaster block has been made. A mirror image will be left in the clay surface, so any lettering needs to be scored in reverse.


Joanna Veevers paints colored slips onto a plaster block into which she has scratched an intricate pattern. Then she creates a clay wall around the plaster slab and pours casting slip over it, which gives the thickness to the piece and picks up the detailed decoration.


Veevers shows in this series of images how she makes her intricate, patterned semi-porcelain brooches, sometimes using as many as five different colored casting slips in one piece.



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1. The design is drawn onto a smooth plaster block with a pencil and then scratched into the surface with a scalpel. (click on images to enlarge!)



2. Black casting slip is painted over the surface.



3. When the slip has dried to leatherhard, the excess is scraped away with a metal kidney, leaving the design showing as black lines.


4. Different colored casting slips are hand-painted into different areas.


5. A clay wall surrounds the block, and casting slip is flooded into the area.
fig. 6

fig. 6

6. When the clay sheet is turned over the black slip delineates the colors. The finished pieces are cut into individual brooches. Each brooch measures approximately 1 1/2 X 1 inch.

This article was excerpted from Ceramic Jewelry,
which is now available in the Ceramic Arts Daily Bookstore!

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