Inspiration and a Piece of Fruit: How to Start Ceramics

by Cass Art Student Ambassador

Our student ambassadors are whole-heartedly embracing a new practice. Start something new. Try a new medium. Pick up a different pen or pencil and see what you end up creating.

But they also want to share their wisdom with beginners in their favourite fields, and with that in mind, Chloe - a Fine Artist at Newcastle University - gives us the lay of the pottery-strewn land. You've guessed it; she has some simple, super tips for those of you starting ceramics.


With the most beautiful, creative and adventurous ceramics around, I found myself wanting to create my own ceramics. Wouldn't you love to put a fresh cup of tea down, knowing that you made the mug? Or hear the deep intake of breath as your friend admires the beauty of your handmade plate?

Start ceramics 

Yet I'm faced with a series of problems. I don't have those glazes, I don't know how to handle clay, I haven't got a potter's wheel... and on and on the excuses went. 

But then I came across a quote by Vincent Van Gogh.

"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together."

What if I began small and basic to start with? Then who knows what might happen.So here I began printing on air drying clay.

It was easy, exciting and affordable, and you can do it too.

Printing for ceramics 

What'll you need to start ceramics:

Air Drying Clay

Acrylic Paint

A rolling pin

A plate or bowl

A knife

A piece of fruit cut in half 

Step by step instructions:

1. Roll out the air drying clay to your preferred thickness, over a smooth surface.

2. Paint the flat part of the fruit with a thin layer of acrylic and print it directly onto the clay by laying the painted side down. Print however you like - in straight lines, in a a neat grid or in a haphazard, random way to get the organic homemade look. You might want to practise on some paper beforehand to get the thickness of the paint right.

3. Wait until the paint is dry.

Step by step ceramics

4. Place the plate or bowl upside down over the clay and cut around it with the knife.

5. Place the cut out clay into the plate and push down gently so that it moulds to the shape.

6. Leave the clay to dry overnight.

7. Take the clay out of the plate or bowl and turn upside it down until both sides are fully dry.

Optional Next Steps:

1. Sand the clay once it's dry to give it a smooth surface, but make sure you wear a face mask so as not to inhale the dust.

2. Varnish the dry clay with a clear varnish - like the Winsor & Newton Galeria Gloss Varnish - to give it a polished finish.

3. Paint the underneath of the clay with acrylic once dry.

By Chloe, Student Ambassador

Lead image credit: Marmekkio

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