Face it – this clay don’t need no kiln


One thing is for sure – the number of faces that came into the workshops on Sunday and Monday were a lot fewer than the number of faces that went out. The energetic and enthusiastic workshoppers must have created hundreds of little air-dry clay people – and not just human faces – there were 3-D molds, insects, cats, and one persona that looked like creepy Chucky (that one became our mascot).


The object was to explore ways to use no-fire clay – to make original and iconic clay face shards and other dimensional components without the need of firing in a kiln.

We concentrated on four areas:

  1. How to make reverse press molds with both two-part silicone and with air dry clay
  2. How to use the molds with various kinds of air-dry clay to make a dimensional object
  3. How to finish the surface of the dried clay faces with walnut ink and metallics
  4. How to use those finished components in mixed media projects

The key to success is to embrace the imperfections inherent in the air-dry clay – those cracks and irregularities give the pieces the illusion of heritage and a wabi-sabi touch of imperfect beauty. You can see what I mean from our video – every picture tells a story, every little face has a secret history – hopefully not Chucky’s:





Guest artsts show their faces

One of the most enjoyable aspects of offering workshops, particularly on how to make face shards, is to see how they are used by the artists who attend. I’ve already posted photos of Spirit Dolls and jewelry – now here are some new ideas.

These are by Sheri Lenora from Austin, who took a class at the Studio recently on building earthenware faces – she’s used them in her beautiful mixed-media hangings – spectacular rich color and texture:

The nebookxt example (left) is the cover of a small book created by Zinnia Galliher, founder of Roses On My Table and a student in my online Making Faces class! I have a already warned her that I’m stealing her idea – it’s wonderful, and the air-dry clay is easier and lighter to work with than earthenware would be for adding to artisan paper constructions.

Don’t forget that there’s a workshop this Sunday at the Studio on making faces with air-dry clay with all kinds of beautiful finishes. Here’s the info, and here’s where to sign up.






Air-dry clay

If you read the Studio newsletter today, you’ll know that there’s a whole lot going on in September – if you missed it, click this link. But I’ve had some time to plan a new workshop on an alternative way to make shards and adornments even if you don’t have a kiln. Sherrill Kahn got me thinking about this (Hi, Sherrill!), and you know I’ve been playing with molding compound. Well, I’ve discovered that you can make molds with air dry clay which, with a few tricks, work just about as well as fired clay. Look at this photo and see if you can tell which ones are air-dry and which ones are fired.P1090280

It’s not easy to tell – and I used some air-dried clay buttons on the piece that I submitted to the juried FASA show (below). You can see how nice they look with an iridescent finish. So sign up for the October 15th workshop and learn how to do this stuff! TGIF, y’all . . . .



No-Fire Shard Faces – a how-to freebie

So you can’t come to the workshop this afternoon? Darn! Well, never fear – here’s a how-to freebie on making your own shard faces and adornments at your own place of creative belonging. No kiln needed because this project uses air-dry clay, lightweight and inexpensive. I’m going to demo this process at the workshop this afternoon although we will be using actual earthenware clay today. But this is a fun option to try at home (yes, you can try this at home). Here are some how-to step-by-step photos. And if you click this link, you’ll get a printable one-page list of materials and directions. Happy molding! That sounds weird. Happy creating beautiful one-of-a-kind clay objects of delight!!