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Quilting with Clay: A Handbuilt Soft Slab Ceramic Wall Art Project

Working with soft thin slabs, Amy Sanders creates quilt-like wall pieces.

Amy Sanders grew up watching her mother and grandmother sew and quilt. So it’s no surprise that her clay work, which includes functional pottery as well as decorative wall pieces, has the appearance of soft quilted fabric.


In today’s post, you’ll learn how Amy constructs her quilt-like ceramic wall pieces. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.



A Handbuilt Ceramic “Quilt”


Begin with a relatively thin slab of fresh clay; if it is really soft, allow it to dry a little to the point that the corner will stand up when bent (this entire process will be done with soft clay with no drying in between). Compress and smooth with a metal rib. Cut out desired shape for the wall piece, a square or rectangle works best, and start small for the first try (about 5″ x 5″ will do). These pieces look nice hung in multiples, so I often create a template out of scrap card stock (old exhibition post cards work nicely) that I can use over and over again. This will become the design inside the border of the piece.


Cut the square into sections similar to piecing a quilt. Impress textures in the individual sections with handmade stamps, marks from tools or other items around your studio.


Turn sections upside down. To protect the textures, I often lay the clay on a piece of foam. Carefully bend up the edges that will become the inside seams.


Pinch together seams (no need to score at this point). Start with the shorter seams first, then connect the longer ones.



This article is one of the many great technique articles in Studio Ceramics: Advanced Techniques, which is available in the Ceramic Arts Daily Bookstore!



Bend all outside edges up to prepare for the border. Turn down any
inner seams first. If your clay seems to be getting dry, run a damp
sponge over the edges.


Cut out 4 long pieces for a border (they must be long enough to
extend past the inner design on both sides). Turn up border edges and
pinch together. For the last piece of border, bend the long and short
edge that meet the corner and pinch together.


Carefully roll one of the border slabs around to meet the ridges of the inside seams. Do this on all four sides.


Cut out a slab that extends over half of the border. Wet and score both the border and back of slab.


Cut 2 holes into backing slab that will eventually receive a wire for hanging. Attach back and compress carefully with finger.

For more handbuilding inspiration, be sure to download your free copy of
Five Great Handbuilding Techniques: Variations on Classic Techniques for
Making Contemporary Handbuilt Pottery

To learn more about Amy Sanders or see more images of her work, please visit her blog: