HOW TO INLAY PATTERNS

Why take the time to inlay forms?

Diva vase

There are times when you need to make several pieces with the same pattern. This could be making a set of dishes or matching pieces for a themed series of work.

boxes vase


Or, the pattern you want to make is quite complex and inserted clay into prepared spots is the best way to successfully execute the pattern.

checked boxes vase


This is the time to build a big cane using a block of plain clay..


small multi vase

The process is not difficult but it is picky. You have to constantly wash your hands and check the white clay to make sure your colored clays and slips are not getting into the white sections. 

Celebration vase




It can be annoying, but paying attention to keeping the white really white pays off in your results.



Complex forms also require planning and lots of your time depending on how complicated they are.  



So lets start with the planning stages.



I begin with a sketch. 

I wanted my design to look like a ribbon falling to the bottom of the vessel. 


I wanted the color change to be gradual and for the flow of colors to have movement. This is the preliminary sketch.





This is a sketch of the actual size the pattern will be on the finished pieces. 


All the measurements have been made with allowances for the shrinkage of the Southern Ice Porcelain.


This is the color shift I want to achieve, so the next step is to make Skinner Blends of these colors then make the patterned cane with these colors. 

At this time measure out your block of white clay, wrap it in a damp towel, put it in a plastic bag and leave it to soften.

Again, the most crucial element in the building process is clean hands. Any small speck of color in the white part of this design will ruin the whole illusion.

When you have your colors and patterns ready get the block of clay, and trace the design on the top with a needle tool.

Then cut through the whole block to place the colors and re-assemble it. Gently tap it on all sides to get the pieces to join together.

Inlay-step-3

.***This is an example  of this process with another pattern block I made. I did not get pictures of the ribbon block as I was making it.

The final loaf will look terrible. Wrap it in a damp cloth, then put in a plastic bag tol rest for a few days until it is evenly hydrated. 







Here is the loaf with a slice in front. 








ribbon vase




And …. here is a vase made with a slice of the design.


You can see how important it is to keep the white areas clean.









            

 This is a wall hanging made with the same pattern.


The difference is I cut all the white away and placed it on another surface.





Here is the process again with another pattern and a thinner slice of white clay.


Inlay-step-1

STEP ONE - Dampen your work surface to keep the clay moist while you are working. 

Mark the clay as a guide for cutting your pattern.



Inlay-step-2


STEP TWO - 

cut your colored clay to shape and insert your patterns


Inlay-step-3



STEP THREE - start to inlay the pattern

Inlay-step-4

            





REMEMBER to keep your hands clean

IMG 6189


Inlay-step-5





STEP FOUR - gently tap it into shape





Inlay-step-6


STEP FIVE - let it rest overnight then slice

IMG 6236

Slice of the pattern fired to Cone 6

Inlay-step-7


THE BIGGEST THINGS TO REMEMBER ARE TO KEEP YOUR HANDS CLEAN AND TO KEEP THE INTERIOR PATTERN CLEAN. KEEP A BUCKET OF WARM WATER BESIDE YOU SO YOU CAN EASILY CLEAN YOUR HANDS. USE A SPONGE TO CLEAN UP THE CLAY SURFACES. PATIENCE IS KEY … DO IT RIGHT AND YOU CAN MAKE A WHOLE SET OF DISHES FROM ONE BLOCK OF CLAY.

BELOW are images of work on another pattern


Once the pieces are assembled you gently drop it on all sides to work any air out of small pockets. Don't drop it hard enough to knock it out of shape though as you can get rid of small air holes when you roll out the slices.

HERE IS AN IMAGE OF A FINISHED PIECE FROM THE LOAF ABOVE

 


PROBLEMS? Check out the Troubleshooting area

For more options and information on coloring clay, look at the  WORKSHOP pages of my site to find a class near you. If there isn't one, consider recommending my workshops to an Arts Center in your area.

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 © Chris Campbell 2019