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Christmas Ornaments!

November 9, 2012

My new favorite piece to make is a Christmas ornament! I did not know you could throw them on the wheel until I saw my teacher Kristen making them. Kristen seemed to have so much fun making little ornaments in all different shapes so I decided to give it a try. Since throwing them also looked very difficult I new I had to try it for myself! Plus Christmas is coming up and it would be fun to make ornaments for my tree!

These Christmas ornaments are challenging because they are made as a closed form that must be light enough not to pull on the tree. A closed form is begun on the wheel like regular cups or bowls, but then closed off at the top. A closed form utilizes a hollow center to make the piece lighter and trap air inside so that the ornament can be shaped with out collapsing.

Centering the small amount of clay needed for an ornament is difficult so “throwing off the hump” makes the process a lot easier. I began with a four pound lump of clay and just centered the very top of the lump. From this small amount of centered clay I throw the Christmas ornament. During the first part of throwing the piece looks a lot like a small cup.

Then you can begin to collar the rim in to get the top to close. I had to practice before I got the clay at the right thickness to be able to close up the top. If I got the clay too thin it would wrinkle up as I pushed it in, but too thick and it would be too heavy for a tree. After the piece is finally closed it can be shaped in an almost endless number of fun forms.

Metal and wood ribs are useful in creating indentations and curves. I have pushed through the clay and created cracks so even with the air trapped inside I still have to be careful. Once finished I cut the ornament off with my wire and begin on the next one. After the piece is shaped it is important to put a whole in the bottom because the trapped air that helped shape the piece can also put added pressure and contribute to cracking as it dries.


The not so fun part of the Christmas ornaments is the trimming. A necessary evil, trimming makes the piece lighter and creates a clean shape at the bottom. I used Kristen’s trimming tool to help keep the ornament in place but it still tended to move around. After trimming several I started to get the hang of it. Now they are ready to be fired! Below are some ornaments after the first firing. Soon I will glaze them and post more pictures of the final ornaments! I am having a difficult time deciding how to glaze them!


From → Pottery Projects

  1. Barb permalink

    What kind of clay did you use? How did you glaze it? What cone did you fire it to? This is great! Thank you for sharing!

    • Hi Barb,

      Sorry it has taken me so long to reply. I used a B-mix clay which is like porcelain but sandier. I put these in the raku kiln so I used a copper penny, white crackle, matte copper penny, and shiney James. Raku is not fired to cone 10, but I think to cone 6. Thanks for your questions! They are a blast to make!

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