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Birds, Birds, and More Birds Please!

August 29, 2011

Birds are everywhere, not just in nature, but as a current fashion trend they are found on fabric, clothes, wall décor, and well anywhere they can be put. I am also a fan of birds perhaps because their delicate forms remind us of nature. Due to my love of birds this post is about how to make elegant birds out of a wad of clay. All that is needed is of course clay, a ball of torn up paper, cutting board, stamps and water.

The first step is wedging the clay to get out any pockets of air or uneven moisture. After wedging create a flat shape. If you are at home the clay will stick annoyingly to most surfaces so I used a wooden cutting board.

After you have gotten a flat shape pick up your clay and throw it hard on the cutting board. Pick it up, turn it over, and throw it again. Continue to throw the clay on the board as this will flatten out the clay, but make sure the clay is at least a quarter inch thick or you may make the bird too thin.

Now that you have a pancake like piece of clay, tear up some scrap paper and crumple it into a ball. The size of the ball depends on how much clay you have and how big you would like your bird. The paper in the center of the bird is essential because pieces made of that much solid clay usually explode in the kiln. At the end piercing one or two holes will allow the paper to burn out in the kiln and relieve pressure. After placing the paper in the center of your clay pancake, wrap the clay like a burrito around the clay ball. To help the clay stick together add some water and rub out the line connecting the clay.

For the head of the bird mash and knead one end of the clay into a ball. Pinching the clay and rubbing the clay forms the beak and desired neck length.

The tail is created by mashing the other end of the burrito. The tails of birds come in all shapes and sizes so there are many ways to form them. In order to create the perky tail in the picture keep a little water on your fingers and gently swipe the clay pulling it out a little each time. Pulling up gradually moves the clay to an angle.

Once the head and tail are generally in their place the fun part of shaping and smoothing the bird into the shape you desire. Using the sides of your fingers you can create curves and press the clay into shape.

Based on what kind of look you want the bird can be wiped smooth with a sponge, decorated with stamps, and poked with the edges of pencils or silverware to create a feather look. I made these birds by poking them with the edges of my pottery tools and using stamps. When you are finished do not forget to add a few small wholes so that your piece will not explode!

This is a bird I created previously. I put two large wholes under his belly and later strung wires for feet. Pressing down slightly to create a flat surface on the belly of your bird will help it sit flat if you do not wish to make feet.

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From → Pottery Projects

One Comment
  1. Bonnie permalink

    Omg!!!! These are sooo cute!!

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