Gen. info (all vessels)
......closed box construction (Ai-Ping's hollow forms)
......pinching, curving, throwing
Removable forms
...gen. info
....non-porous (glass, metal)
....porous (cardstock, cardboard,etc.)
....various materials
Permanent forms
...wire mesh (boxes, etc)
..."covering" vessels
BOWLS, trays, plates, etc.
...made by covering
...made by using temporary forms
.. ....uses...forms to use...misc bowl sites
........just slices... slice sheets ...draped
..........pleated, woven...additions ...baking
Hollow forms, or mostly hollow, open forms (vases, pots)
...other armatures,forms
......pinch pots, "balloon" vessels
...other techniques for hollow vessels
Lids & Feet (boxes or bowls)
Books, videos, & groups
Creative & unusual ideas for vessels
MORE Websites, etc.. ...all Vessels

& Trays, Clocks, etc.

GENERAL INFO for all vessels

There are several basic ways to create vessels.
They can be made completely freeform with slabs and bits of clay. . . or they can be made with the aid of a "form" or armature on which you shape the clay (the forms can be left inside the clay layer permanently, or they can be removed after baking).

Vessels can be made from only one layer of clay. . .or a base layer can be constructed and baked to give a firm surface for adding a second clay layer (depending on the vessel, the base layer may be visible or not... if it won't be visible, scrap clay can be used).
...Bowls are most often made with one layer.... boxes can be made with one layer or two (not counting any smaller added decorative panels, etc.).

For stand-alone vessels that should be strong such as those for holding dirt, plants, or other heavier items,) my only concern would be strength. . . .
alone would be out of the question because of its delicacy after baking and the other clay brands would be flexible giving the pot an odd feel when planting and carrying it. i would make it fairly thick.. . . to accomplish that, i would make one layer not quite 1/4" thick and bake the full time necessary. then add another layer not quite 1/4" thick and bake again the full time necessary. you can add another layer, but half inch thick should be strong enough. then add any decoration or embellishments and bake again. the reason i would bake this way is to expedite baking without scorching if your oven spikes (like mine does) and, if it is going to crack at all, you have another layer that isn't cracked. Sunni
...if you're think your oven won't spike, you could add any onlays or other decorations before the second baking instead

a Sculpey clay can be used as the base layer because it bakes up "stiffer" than the other clays.... since it will be covered by a second layer of stronger clay, it's relative brittleness shouldn't be a problem
.......for me, Premo alone can be too flexible for my work with (larger) boxes- especially the early stages, so I mix it with Sculpey III which "cures" stiffer. I use 2 pts. Premo to 1 pt Sculpey III.. I am very careful about making sure the clays are thoroughly mixed....I bake at Premo's longer baking times....I have often dropped (accidentally) boxes onto concrete floors and unless they hit a thin or structurally fragile area, rarely have they broken or chipped (when I used a 1:1 proportion). Irwin

Jody B. says boxes can have thinner walls but still remain strong by using Premo clay, then coating the inside of the box with 2 layers of liquid clay..

Aristocrat's "Liquid Glass" 2-part resin makes a beautiful interior finish for small polymer vessels... just pour it in (and swirl around?)... it's good too because often the interior part of vessels are just about impossible to sand. Kathy

An Omnigrid (quilter's ruler) is used by Mary Reynolds for making cuts when making boxes especially so they'd be straight and measurable at the same time, or for cutting even strips. .. good thing to work on when making measured, straight or parallel cuts. ...she used the 6 x 12" one (they have bright yellow lines)..come in various sizes...squares, rectangles and triangles, down to 4"x4".... (prob. little less expensive at retail fabric store) (click on the zoom icon for left ruler)
.I was surprised that this stiff plastic isn't the kind that's melted by raw clay, but it must be acrylic.
... all markings are on the back side of the rulers sold now
....(if you have an Omnigrid from the 1980's though, the markings could be dissolved off by contact with Diluent and raw clay)

. . . I've been using a sheet of graph paper stuck to the back of my clear acrylic work surface, but this would be better in various ways. Diane B.

(see more gridded work surfaces in Tools > Work Surfaces)

(If you want to sand the interior of a box,) it's much easier to get inside the box walls to sand before you apply the box bottom. Eliz

creating a mold ...from the *inside*??? . . .small or larger vessels/forms could be made by pressing into raw clay from the inside of a general shape (as if making a mold in a depressions of sand). . .line the inside of a depression made in sand, dirt,or whatever, with a shell of soft clay , then press objects or tools firmly into the interior sides of the shell; bake, and use as a mold for the exterior of a bowl or other form (if enough clay is used, or used in certain areas, quite large impressions can be made)
....Chris Gryder's large bowl-ish forms created this way with earth clay "molds",1789,HGTV_3352_1944835,00.html (click on Vessels, then click on one or more for enlargment)

Vessels can be used as bases under other sculpts or other items as well to elevate or showcase them... these can be stand-alone display units, or attached to the item itself (like a trophy base)
...Alan's boxes embellished with transfers, used under a polymer urn
(see more in Sculping/Settings...bases)

Someone mentioned that boxes (and bowls?) with feet (and/or handles) seem to have more "importance" (I think that was the term, anyhow). Irene

Sometimes if you put a layer of aluminum foil around the object you want to emulate, then put a layer of clay, and bake it will work as a mold. It does have to be bake-able. ..some times you can pull out the object, leave the foil, then bake, then pull out the foil. the smoother the foil the easier it is to remove. ...(Fingernail polish bottles are just right for making thimbles... but they are one of the items I do not bake. Sometimes the object seems to be shrunk in on, so I put it back in the oven, heat to 180' then pull it out gently before it cools, I've made boxes and thimbles and bowls this way.)

I grouted interior joints of the box walls with translucent and baked again.
...I use superglue (fresh is best) and TLS at corner joints when at the "bones" stage of construction, then add decorations, many that reinforce the corners. Them babies hold! LynnDel
I score the clay on the joints and dab a bit of mineral oil on before I press them together. And I make sure all the clay has been conditioned recently. Kim2

Barbara McGuire's lesson on making an urn-shaped vase, by covering a pilsner glass, and adding a sloped rim and scrolled handles to the side,1158,CRHO_project_12579,00.html

Caroline has a votive which is a Skinner Blend of translucent and green (so the most translucent is nearest the top); she also adhered wavy ribbons of the same clay all around the votive vertically so that only the lower portions of these s-waves were adhered to the clay covering. DB

Jan's teapots made by covering round glasses (like votives) and adding spouts,handles, and lids (website gone)
(...see also teapots made this way using small or large glass Christmas balls in Christmas > Glass Balls)

Lisa Pavelka's teapots, fancy tea "cups", some "bowl" type, and vessel type

500 Teapots (book by Suzanne Tourtillott). . . a fat, juicy book with just photos of teapots for inspiration (and captions) how-to projects, just photos. It's thick - well over an inch thick, and you know how beautiful Lark Books are. Irene

Premo seems to shrink a bit more than Fimo. . . . when I'm encasing a good-sized object, like these rocks, I've found that I get some cracking with the Premo ( so I use Fimo for these). I surmise this is from shrinkage because the cold water bath doesn't pull these cracks back together for me. The repair/disguising on those boxes can be a real headache. Joanie

He also made grog of polymer with thin, baked polymer ground to a powder and screened, just like you do with fired earth clay. He mixed into the raw clay, which adds body for throwing, and gives a very earth-clay look to things. ...I've been printing things out from Jim Collin's mini printables (website). Most interesting thing is Victorian Money, for cow boy poker games. There are patterns for boxes, Chinese take out boxes, trunks, computers, etc. Use these printables as patterns for your clay sheets and make instant house hold items like stoves and washer/dryer sets. Nora Jean
...see 5 squares of clay for fold-up cardstock box below, in Covering)

I think you're right, some of the tattoo tile designs are so square or something and lend themselves better to more regular shaped objects like boxes. But some of those flowing floral patterns should make good pendants. Desiree

Kim's small framed (in this case, post. stamps) pieces could be used as central medallions for covered notebooks, boxes, etc. (or use any kind of layered or otherwise-framed small pieces--see Frames or Onlay) (website gone)

.... Cre*it!'s textured, white-Sculpey-in-the-box clay tiles, folded double thickness after one pass through pasta machine, which are mounted on ceramic tiles, notebooks, cards, vessels, even jewelry, giving them sufficient strength and retaining lightness; double deck effect (or triple, using a framing paper layer etc..) (then finished with their special tinted glazes), (lessons to come)

soap dish. . . I can say that the three I have and use regularly do not seem affected either by water OR soap. The only problem I seem to have is that certain colored soaps (like the Glycerin-based amber-colored ones) tend to discolor or "dye" the clay if it is light-colored. Also something to think about in your design: any nooks and crannies the soap may find it's way into....will make cleaning the soapdish difficult.

Violette's clay cage made of ropes (website gone)

I would suggest a cup holder made from clay to hold little disposable bathroom cups of paper or plastic..

…little fake rock to put a spare house key in and hide around my house.. . he said I should have just made it out of clay and instead of having a hinged door on the bottom, I could just make a slot big enough to slide the key in. . .

incense burner bottle. . . I have seen them with decorative bottles or stain glass stuff. Probably would look really nice with translucent clays or pretty canes. I just can't figure out the best way to make the 4 holes in the bottom without breaking the bottles.
Donna, Use a miniature drill with as abrasive arbour it will slowly cut through the glass.

I have not tried acrylic (picture frames), but I have very sucessfully baked thick plexiglass cylinders covered with polymer clay to use as the inside of a box. These things actually make wonderful box cores..... The clearness of the plexi allows the colors to come thru on the inside, and you can even store edibles inside if you use a pexiglass top and bottom.

pins, pendants, boxes, etc. . . . impress and bevel the framing
....another easy, but cool thing I do to the edges of pins or pendants (like leaf impression pins) is to roll a knurled tool up against the edge.
....I've told enough people about this to know that some don't know what a "knurled tool" is... it's any kind of cylindrical tool with that diamond-shaped pattern impressed into it (somewhere, usually on the handle…say a wrench, for instance).…I use (the handle of) a leather punch
…so when your pin is just ready to bake, roll the edge of the tool up against the edge of the pin (lengthwise).... this puts a little bevel on the edge with an interesting cross-hatch pattern to boot even squares it up a bit.  Mike  B.

for lesson on eyeglasses case, see Jewelry > Eyeglasses

for woven vessels see websites, and also ClayGuns/ > Noodle Cutters

for making patterned sheets for vessels, see Sheets of Pattern, Mokume Gane, Canes-Gen > Sheets, Mica, and more

for bubbling in flat sheets, see Pasta Machines > Problems

for info on "Great Stuff" expanding foam (polyurethane foam for insulating and sealing pipes) which can work well as an armature (see Armatures > Wire & Other Materials) (info and many uses!)


FREEFORM --slabs, sheets, etc.... no forms used

Raw, Pre-Baked and Mixed

Cutting the pieces out and letting them set for at least 10 minutes before using can help to firm them up for some of these techniques.

Cutting your box sides and other elements on top of a piece of graph paper or an Omnigrid ruler will help make sure the pieces are well squared or symmetrical, if that's what you want.

Or, use a template or a cutter for cutting out (rectangular) sides, or tops, etc.:
...anything from around the house: stiff boxes of plastic or cardboard, playing card, credit card, jewel cases, kids' toys (like building units...if you use Legos, you can make your own rectangles in any size...blocks, or just any toy parts ...jar lids, Altoid tin (rounded corners won't transfer if using a long blade)
...cutters of all kinds (cookie, canape, bought shape cutters, etc.)

Some people do something extra to make sure the joined raw edges of a box are strong and well bonded:
...use a bit of liquid clay on the edges (or wherever they connect) before joining. . . or use a bit of Diluent or white glue (Sobo, etc.) left to tack up a while
...I grouted mine with translucent clay
...I use superglue and TLS at corner joints when at the "bones" stage of construction.... then later I also add embellishments (many that reinforce the corners)....them babies hold! LynnDel
...I score the clay on the joints and dab a bit of mineral oil on before I press them together. And I make sure all the clay has been conditioned recently so they're soft enough to moosh together well . Kim2
...(after baking the box?) ...applying a couple of coats of Colored liquid sculpey inside (curing each coat separately) and allowing the liquid clay to puddle a bit down in the joints between the side walls and the bottom of the box can create a nicely finished box interior (this also eliminates any tricky sanding and buffing of the interior and it makes the box really strong). Elizabeth

Freeform vessels can be made with one layer of clay, OR two layers (one of which will be an inner, unseen, base layer and the other a decorative outer layer)

Base layer clays:
...use any clay
...I use straight Super Sculpey clay because it bakes nice and hard with no "bend" to it..
...I have also used a mixture of 50% Cernit + 50% Premo and had relitively stiff walls.
...I make boxes with walls made from Cernit white base layer (Atlas #3) before applying a colored decorative skin over that. . . they are NOT flexible
...the trouble with translucent clay is that it is more flexible.

For boxes with flat sides, I bake the individual pieces between two tiles.
(my boxes have 3 layers: base layer, interior decorative layer, and exterior decorative layer)
. . then I cover one side of the pieces with whatever color I want on the inside, and bake again.
...I glue those sides together (colored side in), then wrap with a sheet of (decorative) clay for the exterior, and smooth seams, etc.
...or I bake the individual (3-layer?) sides by themselves . . . then you could use white glue (tacked up) or diluent to put them together, and rebake . . . (or superglue or Liquid Sculpey).

Several ways to prevent curling of thin flat clay when baking. . . one is to place something heavy on top of the piece while baking.
.... however, if the weight will harm the surface technique, wait until the pieces comes out of the oven and while it is still somewhat hot, place heavy books on top of it until cool.
...Or, while it is still hot but not so much so that you can't handle it, fill the sink with cold water and then lay the piece down on the bottom of the sink and hold flat until cool. Dotty in CA
...or just make it thicker
...letting the clay rest and cool will stiffen it a bit
(see Pasta Machines > Problems > Bubbles for info on bubbling in flat sheets)...

(see more in Houses-Structures, for using pre-baked shapes, from patterns in this case) for making box shapes

many wondeful boxes of various kinds at the Rave 1998 ( on ALL alphabet links!)

Emi's faux ivory box lesson, stamped/antiqued, onlaid, etc., with lid,1158,CRHO_project_2915,00.html
Gerri's faux ivory and jade boxes, with layered lids and cylindrical or ball feet, similar to Emi's

Dayle's various boxes and shrines
....(one shrine is just 3 tall sides held together loosely with 2 jumprings and/or small onlays --no bottom or top)

(for freestanding, often partly translucent, light or candle screens, see Covering > Glass > Nightlights & Lamps & Candle Screens

Pat's lesson on making a cylindrical slab pot, with 3 pinched areas to close and shape the bottom... also lid

interesting boxy vessels (ceramic, but good polymer ideas) (click on Lesson 14: Chinese Bronze Vessels --must have Adobe Acrobat)

unusual, audio-tape-boxes box ...adaptable to clay --as "pictures" inside the clear cases and/or as lids, etc. ... Marlies made some triangular boxes (or could be rectangular or any shape) by standing 3 audio tape boxes on their long sides and gluing together with clear glue
... cool flap-over boxes also... Marlies covers box and cardboard for rigid cover with contact paper, but it could be clay? (see details in Boxes-Gift)
lesson for "display" box made with 6, same-size photo frames (4 sides, top + bottom)... glass is glued in with silicone sealer/glue...sides glued to each other with hot glue, 4 knob feet on bottom to elevate, lid placed on top (interesting idea),,HGTV_3433_1393272,00.html

(small) Closed Box technique ... for strong, hollow, forms

Ai-Ping Yeh demoed wonderful small "hollow" forms (mostly boxlike) at Ravensdale 2000, and later a couple of times to the South Bay Polymer Clay Guild.
Her clever method of lightweight yet very stong construction can be used in many ways ... thank you, Ai Ping!
...The shape she demoed at the guild was box-like (some remind me of "guitar" boxes), and she's been using then primarily as pins.
.....the pieces have a very organic look and suggest a great deal of graceful movement because of their shapes and her embellishment choices
.....many of her component parts (top, bottom, sides, plus occasional embellishments) vary in color and pattern (see more on her decorative surfaces below) but it's not necessary.
many of Ai-Ping's boxes --plus some technique illustrations (...captions to be added later) (click browser's Back button to return to this page when there)
.... Jean S's boxes after Ai-Ping class

.....boxes from another Ai-Ping class

The following info was culled from Ai Ping's demonstration or from Ai Ping herself:

The basic parts of each box are: 1 top ...1 bottom ... 4 pieces (or possibly 1 long, continuous piece) for the interior (hidden) walls which give added strength ...and 4 individual wall pieces for the outer, visible sides
tops are usually irregular in outline rather than exactly rectangular, and the surface is also often wavy (vertically wavy ...think undulations)
...some of her tops have a "holey" layer, under which a contrasting-color layer shows through the cutouts
...sometimes one or more beads, pearls, etc., are placed in an underlayer, and are framed by a hole
...some of her tops have an opening cut into them (from simply a slot, to a larger "window" of any shape)
......something can also be happening in the window (...below the window and inside the box, or barely emerging from it, or protruding through and literally waving around above it); items she's used for this have often been pearls, knots of wire or seed beads, etc., anchored with or mounted on wires
...the box bottoms are usually flat (but don't have to be)
...the side walls are double construction...the scrap base layer gives strength and is covered by a decorative outer layer.
(this technique requires multiple bakings ...translucent clay may darken with repeated bakings, so may want to drape with damp paper towel during baking, or add only toward end of project)

construction (lesson):

1. HOLEY cut-out effect: (pasta machine layers #3 + #5) ... see "Decorative Surfaces" below
2. FRAMED ("set") PEARL or BEADs (pasta machine layers #3 + #5) ... see PEARLS 1, below
. FLAT clay: (#3) ... see "Decorative Surfaces" below for pattern ideas
(........if your top layer is a "holey" one, or if pearls/beads are to be framed by holes, the top will consist of two layers)

Create one of the tops above, or whatever you want.... then cut it into a pleasing outline shape with a blade
...if you then want to make your top wavy:
....... roll a piece of heavyweight paper into a long, thin cone (perhaps 1" or less diameter at end, and 5" long)... place it on your baking surface and lay the raw top over the cone, pressing down around cone as desired (she places her cone widthwise, and generally uses only one, but cone could be underlaid in any orientation and more than one cone shaper could be used... or you could use other things to create waves, bumps, peaks, etc.) ....translucent clays tend to be softer, so use a smaller cone so the the curvature won't be too tall
...(cut window after baking, or now if you want)
.....bake at 250 for 5 min (or 10 min. if you begin with a cold oven)

WINDOW . . . (skip this step if you don't want a window)
A window can either be cut into the raw clay before draping over the cone and baking (..if so, .bake at 250 for 5 minutes --or 15 minutes if you want "set pearls" in the surface of this top piece--.and let completely cool), or it can be cut after baking (the short bake time will leave clay soft enough to cut easily while warm) ...and cutting afterward can give more control for difficult cuts like zigzags
...cut out the size window you want using a blade (tip of tissue blade, or an Xacto), or even a shape cutter
......if top is wavy, use a large blob of raw clay (and a patty paper) underneath the baked wavy top to support it whilte cutting
......may want to create a paper template of the window and the outline of the top to guide your cutting (place template on raw top... poke needle holes in corners, etc.)
......a small raised frame can be added around the edge of the window as an onlay (or any way you want)'ll need a long narrow window if it's to be used with the pearls-on-staples "in a row" described below (to help cut that slot-type window, Ai-Ping made 2 holes in the raw top, then cut the slot between the two holes after baking)
if you'll be adding waving stalks (as below) , remember to make the window large enough to allow them to move around

PEARLS & WIGGLIES . . . (skip this step if you don't want to have wiggly or non-moving pearls or beads, etc., showing inside-under your window or waving outside it)
.....placement and technique options for the pearl(s) or bead(s):

1. small pearl(s) (or wire coils) set in holes--these are set into a hole in the surface of box top (only top half visible) ....(tip: if your top is wavy, place it on a slab of raw clay with a bit of paper on top of that to support and protect it for the next step):
....drill hole in baked top with drill bit a little larger than pearl/bead you want to inset... turn top upside down and gouge out a bit of clay on both sides of the hole with a linoelum cutter (begin in the hole about halfway deep, and gouge outwards and then upward, leaving a kind of triangle shape removed) ... repeat for other side of hole pearl on a very short length of 24 gauge wire and lay it into the hole so that the short wires sticking out of the pearl lay in the gouges (can bend the wire a tad) ... fill in over the wire in the gouge with soft clay to hold the wire in place... repeat for other side (see photo)

2. pearl(s) strapped with staple --these will rest on top of the box's interior bottom, sort of strapped down (whether top of pearl/bead is lower than box top surface or slightly above it depends on bead's diameter)
....create a #6 sheet of clay (false bottom, but visible from the interior), trim it the same size as the box bottom, and bake
....thread one or more pearls onto 24 gauge wire ... bend wire into a "staple" shape by bending wire down on both sides of the pearl(s) (vertically) for "legs"
... drill 2 holes in the thin layer with tiny drill bit or needle tool at a area where the window will be above it..... ...insert legs staple through it toward back... press feet down and inward on back side
... (remember to center window over pearls when cutting bottom of box in next step)

3. waving pearl(s) stalks, on raised staple (extending up above surface of the box top.)... these sort of wave around unpredictably on their "stalks" ...very cool!)
...there are 4 parts to his version -- a number of pearl & wire "stalk" units, a thin baked clay layer (see just above), the 24 gauge wire staple (this staple is set up higher than in the previous version though so the bottoms of the wire stalks can lean around freely rather than being strapped down), and 2 spacer beads ... the interior false bottom won't show much or at all make the stalks, cut lengths of "iron binding wire" (a thin but very strong wire...hardware store? piano wire?) as long as you want your stalks, plus some extra.... at one end of each make a tiny loop and flatten it ...string on a pearl/bead and glue it up to the flat loop with superglue ... bend the other end of each wire into a small loop at whatever distance away from the pearl you want
(stalks can be same lengths or diff.)... you'll want enough of these to place them close together
........ row placement ...string all of the loops onto a length of 24 gauge regular wire (however...if the pearls-beads you've used won't fit through the window you've made, stick the stalks' loop ends through the top of the box before continuing)... make a staple shape as for the pearl-on-staple above, but thread a small baked polymer bead onto each leg before inserting the legs through the thin baked clay layer (as above) (the beads will act as side spacers to hold the top of the staple up off the clay allowing the wire stalks to move freely) ... bend feet inwards as above
(remember to center slot window over pearls when cutting bottom of box in next step)
........random placement ...rather than stringing the stalks onto a straight length of wire, create a spiral shaped staple from the wire to string them on (the spiral will be parallel to the bottom of the box... treat the legs and feet the same as above)

wire wigglies ... .thin colored metal wire knots, each of which sits loosely on the surface of the box bottom but rolls around spasmodically if tilted (remind me a bit of "Mexican jumping beans") ..each knot has a very short stalk ... these are not stabilized with a staple as above, rather each one is set separately create the "knot" end, wrap a length of wire (like Artistic Wire) a number of times around the shaft of a quilt pin ... cut excess when it's as long as you want, and remove from pin (the knot can be scrunched a bit with pliers if desired) ...cut the other end of the wire long enough for your short stalk, plus enough extra to form a small loop later create the "open-box window" to hold them, create a false bottom sheet (this surface will show)
(how thick?), creating it just wider than your window
.......poke a small hole where you want each wire knot to be, then bake (or drill after baking)
...... insert leg of each wire stalk into one hole (from front side), and form a loop on the underside leaving the straight part of the wire long enough to allow for some play ...flatten the loop up next to the box bottom to secure
.......when all the knots are placed, decorative inner walls can be added around and under the window area (which will be visible in final pin)..
.. with Sobo, place each raw wall around the outer part of the top surface of the false bottom layer, then attach to the underside of the window (again with Sobo), and bake______ (or are wires added after open box completed?)
..........these decorative inner walls could also be used anytime you want to have walls showing inside the box, around the window
(one of Ai Ping's boxes with wire wigglies was almost a completely flat box ... see below in Misc for not-hollow version)
...Celie Fago uses something similar, but adds another wire ball at the other end of short wire stalk (after passing through hole in the side of her pod pendant)

BOTTOM of box
create a decorative sheet of clay or use a plain one (...esp. .when making a pin, #3 pasta machine thickness suggested) raw bottom sheet underneath baked top (decorative side down)... then cut around top with blade or blade tip to make both layers the same outline shape

...bake bottom 250 for 5 min., then cool

INTERIOR WALL (hidden, strengthening wall) & preparation:
...apply Sobo white glue where the interior walls will be affixed (along the outside perimeter of the interior-facing side of both the top and bottom piece... on flat areas, not on the actual sides)
( here comes the ingenious part...)
...turn the top piece face down... then press 2-5 small balls of white bulk Sculpey (or the the softest clay you have) to the inside of the top (don't let the balls extend past the outer edges of the box though)
...align the bottom of the box, face up, over the balls-and-top
... then press top and bottom of the box together till you have them oriented for the finished box exactly the way you want them to appear (e.g......tilted, relatively parallel, tall walls, short walls, etc.) ...the balls will hold top & bottom in place for next step.

...make a # 3 pasta machined clay strip (long enough for at least 3 of the sides if doing them contiguously) from scrap clay (since it will be covered by an exterior wall)
...lay your long raw scrap clay strip on a work surface one long side of your temporarily-held-together-box onto the scrap sheet ...this will create an custom impression the exact size and shape of that particular interior wall
.......either repeat this step for the other 3 walls, or just roll the box over onto its next 3 sides without picking it up from the sheet, creating
one long strip... this might create a bit too much clay in each corner but any excess could be shaved off) (...Ai Ping recommends doing this for only 3 sides, then adding the last separately to avoid stretching, but could try all 4 anyway)
.........if you decide to roll the box to all sides, then you can use a V-shaped linoleum cutter to cut across the strip where each "corner" will be (you'll see the impressions) to miter them for folding together later ...don't cut all the way through though)
........(before impressing the strip, you may want to mark or remember which side you'll be starting with so you'll know where to begin fitting your strip!!)
...cut just inside the impressed lines of your interior wall strip with a blade tip (...the lines will be straight or wavy depending on whether your top was baked wavy) separate the top and bottom of the box and remove the squished clay balls
...match up the first side of the box with it's corresponding wall strip (or section of long strip), and carefully attach one long side of strip to the inside of the box top, just inside the interior edge and over the glue... (you can lean the wall outward a bit, if you want to facilitate next step)
.......OR, Debbie A. suggested placing a rope of clay just inside the wall, and touching the wall (before attaching?) so that it would be easier to attach (not use dental tool?)
...(especially if not using the rope of clay,) use a dental or other tool to press the attached edge more firmly against the bottom of the box on the inside) ... repeat for the other 3 sides (...or as above, do them all in one strip)
...then press the whole wall now attached to the top piece to the bottom piece (don't worry if it's a bit bent in or has small gouges --if they're large enough, they can be filled in after baking with a bit of glue and then soft clay, and rebaked)

...bake 250 for 5 min.

EXTERIOR WALLS (visible, decorative walls):
...create the patterned clay sheet(s) you want to use for the walls (each wall can be different in pattern/color/etc, or can have onlaid cane slices or other onlays, leafing, etc..) one interior-wall side of the baked box onto the back side of a small pattern sheet , then shave off excess sheet clay extending past the top and bottom (level blade resting on top, or bottom) if necessary .... trim the ends with blade
...apply second outer wall (same or different color/pattern) to the second inner wall, overlapping end of first sheet, and trim ... repeat with 3rd and 4th wall (...this will result in each exterior side overlapping the previous side at one end, and being overlapped by the next side at the other end ...or you can do the two opposite sides first, then the other two opposite sides... or any way you want).
...bake according to manufacturer's directions (e.g,. 265 for 30-40 min.)... (do a final trim around all edges if any more cleanup necessary)

MISC : least one of her "boxes" is not hollow ... it's very thin and flat, comprised of 2-3 layers of clay which are pressed together and don't have interior walls...the top has a window in it showing through to the upward facing side of the bottom piece... the outer decorative "sides" in this case are very short (...this construction also allows the exterior outline to be be much more convoluted or sharp )... this particular one had wire wigglies in the shallow window.
...a basic box shape can be broken up into 2-3 smaller boxes which nest together puzzle style with slight spaces between, etc. ( of Ai Ping's was cut apart with a wavy blade tho' larger than our wavy blade?)
...Sculpey clay is too soft to use anywhere in the finished box (okay for the temporary spacers though).
...freshwater pearls can be baked, but the white and pink ones work best because their color won't change. AP
.......also some beads have color which will change in baking (bake separately first to check)

decorative surfaces (top, sides, and/or bottom)

Ai-Ping often joins together more than one pattern sheet for her tops, bottoms or sides (see Sheets of Pattern > Collage for similar effects)
...for these, she first makes the desired cut along one edge of one pattern sheet... then places it partly on top of the second pattern sheet (so that it looks the way it will end up) ... then she cuts along the edge of the first cut sheet, through the under sheet only, and removes the under sheet.... presses the two cut sheets together
... to create a good joinl, she places a patty paper over the joined area, and rubs in the direction of the cut, then round in circles...she may then also pass it through the pasta machine (at same setting) to reflatten completely.

Ai-Ping often uses slices from tiny tiny (highly reduced) canes
sprinkled all over her pattern sheets
.... the canes can be round, flattened, etc., and are often very simple cane shapes (e.g., line of white surrounded by black, round or rectangular wrapped "bullseye" canes, longer single color rods, small stripes, etc.)
...translucent... sometimes used as the center of a cane, or sometimes as an outer wrap (also translucent spirals made with thin darker layer)
...abstract strips of color which also can be "grained" effects, Skinner Blends, tinted translucents with obvious plaquing, Kato's one-petal-at-a-time onlay, etc.

She also may combine many different visual and textural techniques in one box, or on one top, or for each side, etc.
....she often uses
texturing, onlays (tiny cane slices, etc.)w
...or could be leaf/crackled, powders, mokume gane bits.... just anything

3-D ideas for SURFACES
ecorative holes drilled in baked clay just for visual texture after baking (Black & Decker drill bits make cleanest cuts for round holes)... someone said pulling the bit out rather than screwing it back the other way to remove it can result in cleanest holes
......any shape cutouts in the top layer ... esp. with another, differently colored layer stacked underneath (which allows bottom colors to show through to top)
.........holes/shapes can be cut before or after baking
.........if baked top is wavy, support it while cutting by using a large blob of raw clay (and a patty paper) underneath it
......needle prick holes in raw clay...anywhere ... or around applied canes slices to hide the sometimes-visible join... or near edge of joined sheets like quilting
...onlays (appliques)
.......framing (onlaid on box top around slot window) ...created with one length of patterned clay slit lengthwise nearly to ends, then separated slightly before applying to allow just correct spacing for stalks to extrude through and flop a bit
......misc shapes of clay (like long zigzag) onlaid anywhere, even extending past edges of box
......knobs (bunches of almost-cube slices taken from
tiny logs --esp. on wall exteriors)
.....length of aluminum tubing inserted across box through 2 opp. walls, & extending past them, for structure or embellishment
...for adding interior visible walls inside box and underneath window ... see wire wigglies above

"windows" could also be used to frame photos, transfers, pendants, etc.... so the whole box could be a frame
.......many ornaments could be made with these, as well as pins, pendants, sculpts, etc.
...the outside edges of the top and bottom piece could be cut zigzag or any pattern (could use pattern scissors)... cut while warm bottoms could also be baked wavy with the paper cones, etc.(creating wavy edges)
... the walls could be taller than the box is wide... could be any shape .... and/or have more than four sides
....any 3-D shape could be created with this same system of construction

Jeffrey Dever's long hollow form with with 4 wavy sides...could be bead or longer one could be handle
(Ravensdale 2003 class) form has been cut across its waist to create a openable box (inner armature or sleeve for lid like Gwen's?)

Celie uses hollow rectangular box forms as tiles in a segmented bracelet (walls are set in slightly from the edges of the top and bottom)

(see also Beads > Hollow for more ideas on diff. ways to create hollow forms)

Non-rectangular sides (or tops)

When making a box, colors or patterns for each element or similar element of a box can be can be the same or they can be different (e.g., walls, bo

equilateral (all three sides the same length)
(cutting the triangles out and letting them set for at least 10 minutes will help to firm them up for these techniques)
(edges of the side walls can be beveled if desired, particularly for an outer layer)
....3 equilateral triangles is a tetrahedron (4th triangle is the bottom)
....4 equilateral triangles when joined together on a square base will create a box shaped like a pyramid
............ (follow steps below, but press sides of original 4 walls inward until they touch, then join gently but firmly.... top can be flattened, or a top can be cut off
....8 equilateral triangles creates a "crooked" sides box with a flat bottom and top (top of box is a square but the bottom of the box is a square "on point" (Mary R. demoed this technique at our gulid meeting):

...... place one side of each of 4 equilateral clay triangles on the edge of the bottom clay square (same length sides as triangles' sides or a tad larger)... can first add a bit of liquid clay, white glue or superglue if desired. . . press down well
..... place remaining 4 equilateral triangles upside down between each of the first four and join all edges
.....bake (if this is a base layer, add a second layer and bake) . . . add whatever top you'd like
(could make this instead by laying out a row of alternating eq. triangles and attach them while flat... then press on to square base and join ends?)

If this box is made with prebaked sides, they can be joined (permanently) with ropes of clay in between or inside (as Tara's box did)
... if this will be just the base form for the box, raw clay can be used to fill out any unevenness of the corners and the form rebaked before covering.
Jami Miller's (uncollapsible?) pyramid box

the wildbunny's tall triangular small box ("giraffe" skin or stone pattern), with lid
Patti K's triangular box ....& Jami's box ....& Trudy's box: (+next 2 pages) (gone)

Dayle Doroshow's tall 3-sided box-shrine made with triangle pieces...sides held together with "jump rings" lid, but "finial"

Dayle D's tall 4 sided? collapsible pyramid box... 3 of the sides shown loosely held together at the top, and one side shown laying down flat) (gone)
Michelle Ross' lesson on making a 4-sided collapsible pyramidal box like Dayle's... the four sides held together at top when closed with a "cap" ......for hingers, she uses 4 lengths of 7/8" wide satin ribbon glued to the inside of the collapsed box (half over base square, half over each flap)... then covers base and each flap with decorative paper to hide them,1789,HGTV_3236_2230027,00.html
....for more on making hinges (so box will collapse), see below in Hinges

Amy C's various pyramidal poof boxes, with lids cut at pointed top, or on long side (when clay warm)... some have feet
...I learned how to make them at Kathleen Dustin's NH workshop (see also poof boxes above)

Dorothy G's box with 4 isosceles trapezoid sides (symmetrical, but only 2 are parallel), with hole in each side in which a flattened bead can be spun around to show either side... plays on color vs. b&w.... lid is glass which shows box interior

(see more in Houses-Structures, for using pre-baked shapes) for making box shapes

template for a (tall) pyramid box ...could use as guide for cutting, etc, to cover with clay, or to use as an armature?

Alan's (five isosceles triangles--2 sides same length) geodesic bowl (if feet or base added)... or could be used as box top?... held together underneath?

Jeanne R's mini "woven reed" round box and lid (for mini "sewing supplies").. made with twisted ropes spiralled like Balinese Filigree over a form

stands for holding a few pens and pencils

pinching, curving, or throwing on a wheel

Michelle Ross' stamped, onlaid pinch pot type vessel, 3 legged, lid,,HGTV_3240_1383762,00.html
*Annie's very interesting 3-legs-pinched and pocket-type vessels, with lids (website gone)

For actual pinch pots, see below in Balloon Vessels

(sort of ) flattened onion dome box
...Susan Hyde's original poof box (gone?)
...Georgia Sargent's2 poof boxes on short pedastals

... Mary R. showed how this shape can be made by pulling up the 4 corners of a largish square of clay and pressing together (one flap at at time)
..... each side is pinched to the one next to it (before baking, blow into the shape and reseal, similar to Pier Voulko's hollow forms)
..... raw clay can be used to fill out any unevenness, and the form rebaked before covering with a final pattern sheet ...the inside of the basic sheet can be a separate pattern too (pasta machine two sheets, patterned sides out) since it will show when the box is open..
..... after baking, a small lid can be cut out (angled like a pumpkin top, so it won't fall in)

's lesson on making a teapot with this technique ..her final shape is a bit taller and more rectangular since she began with a rectangle of clay,,HGTV_3239_1397590,00.html

Arline Shalan's "vessel" created by curving the 4 "arms" of a plus-shaped clay sheet over an armature? until the corners slightly overlap (leaving a square opening)... the overlapped corners are joined in an interesting way

throwing (pots) clay on a potter's wheel. . . . Will Truchon demonstrated it at the Arrowmont conference:
....Use Sculpey III; make grog by rolling Sculpey III really thin, baking the sheets, grinding them up and screening them; and throw using KY Jelly, or generic equivalent, instead of water for moistening! Weird but true!)

......I've had my mini wheel 6 months....use only a marble size lump. You don't use fingers/hands for throwing, just paint brush handles, etc. There is little resistance, and the smaller wheel head spins faster, so well conditioned (plain? not ground) poly clay (Sculpey) stuck well to the wheel..The other brands may need the KY because of the extra firmness. SharronT1


gen. info...all removable forms

There are various ways to make vessels with forms which are later removed (before or after baking, depending on the method).
...The clay can be applied to the outside or inside of the form (though usually the outside).
...Anything that can stand the heat of the oven is a candidate the removing-after methods.
...Sometimes a release is needed between the clay and the object (talc, aluminum foil or paper, a squirt of ArmorAll, for example), but sometimes nothing is needed.

One of the simplest things to do is to make small bowls, trays, or boxes over the outside of an oven-safe form which flares at least a little (or the clay will be practically impossible to remove if it's very tall); some of these things could be upturned glass custard dish, light bulb, metal dish or pan of some kind, papier mache forms, etc.
.....(see below in "glass, porcelain" and in "Bowls" for fuller explanation of making bowls and trays over some of these items.)
......if the item doesn't have enough flare to remove the clay form easily after baking, see above for "removing")

Sometimes i just cut a (too-large) large clay rectangle, plop it on the top or bottom of the box I'm using for a form, smooth it down on the sides, then pinch the corners together, and cut off the excess (then smooth the 4 joins). rebbie

i put a slab on the top or bottom of the box form, and then cut a long strip to wrap all the way around the sides (this leaves one VERY long seam around the top, one short one on the side). ...this is good if you plan to put a decorative braid or other treatment on the top/bottom edge of the piece; then you only have the one short seam to worry about blending perfectly!! rebbie

Cheryl's alabaster and onyx boxes (with molded filigree embellishments, and one mounted fantasy stone cabochon, and interesting "feet") (lesson on alabaster in Faux-Many > Alabaster)

large open lamps--Diane Dunville's (not sure what kind of form used) (for more Dunvilles, see Covering > Glass > Nightlights)
Edie's simple black clay "vase" (somewhat cylindrical) with long twig and metal connectors as front decoration


Many slick surfaces will not need a release when baked with raw polymer (metal, glass, etc.)..(unless they are tall and have no flare ...see just below).
...some porous surfaces which will soften in water can be soaked off after baking.

You can use a thin layer of aluminum foil under the raw clay... unwrinkled if it will show and you want it smooth.. or a layer or two of paper
...(here's a tip from our own Elizabeth Campbell that I found (and used) in Irene Dean's "Faux Surfaces" book)

So far I haven't tried using anything between the aluminum foil and the clay to stop wrinkle marks (from the foil).. . . I do usually make sure the clay is pretty well adhered to the foil all around too, just because I can manipulate it more easily for decoration that way..
....I find that if I use metal leaf (or metallic powder) on the inside on the bottom though, it acts as a release and doesn't show foil marks at all ...later I can sand the inside sides of the box to smooth them out after peeling off the paper
....I've also seen masking tape used over foil to smooth it, but I haven't tried that yet since I assume some release would be required to remove it. Julia

OR use plain paper insted of alum. foil to avoid any wrinkles
also, if you don't like the shiny surface that aluminum foil leaves on the inside baked clay walls, just put paper cut to size over your carefully smoothed aluminum foil. sjwhyte

OR I use teflon-coated baking paper rather than tin foil to cover a simple form .... and it can be reused
...... it doesn't stick like paper does, and doesn't get ridges like foil does.
.......the (paper-covered) cardboard tubes will then slide right out and you can remove the teflon
..... You can get large sheets in cooking supply stores. Lori Greenberg
....use a strip of parchment paper with enough overlap to add a dab of super glue to hold the paper in place. (I've used foil in the past and that always left a rough interior surface I didn't care for.)... parchment paper is nice and smooth and since it is made to release from cake batter, it works well with the clay, too. Patty B.

Or brush a powder like cornstarch or talc or even metallic powder on the raw clay to act as a release before baking (the powder may not give enough release though and they may get stuck together!)
... if you use a powder, the cane slices or other clay bits won't stick very well or at all to the vessel's surface can be a good choice though when you don't need to have close adhesion and don't want any shiny spots though, like when "draping" sheets of clay over bowl forms (see Bowls, draped sheets below)

When making vessels over a form (whether a metal dish, or foil-covered anything), Bonnie uses Vaseline as a release agent.
.... Unlike ArmorAll, or cornstarch, etc, which are so "slippery," the Vaseline works sort of as a vacuum to hold the clay in place until it's through baking. It's just as easy as the others to remove the baked object.
...don't use ArmorAll on any areas that will be treated after baking with finishes or powders thoug because it can repel them

Kato Repel Gel is a very thick, water soluble polymer clay medium which prevents polymer clay from adhering to itself while curing (baked or raw) can be used for clay to clay contact during baking when removability is desired
... it works well for making lids as well because they can be formed on the vessel and still removed after baking (creating a tight fit also)'
s now available in some places
(....see more brands in Glues > Superglue Solvents & Repel Gel)

The Sculpeys & Premo tend to be "insoluble" clays so water is the release agent of choice (...when using molds anyway)
. .. however, Fimo and Cernit are soluble clays; both possess a filler (possibly kaolinite) that absorbs moisture, so talc or cornstarch are the better release agents. K. Dewey
...what about Kato clay?

see more on releases in Molds > Releases

Poke a tiny hole in the bottom of the clay ...after baking this hole will help prevent a kind of vacuum effect that the clay does when baked to a surface. Patty B

To loosen clay and removing it from non-porous forms after baking:
..... loosen around the edges first, and it will usually pop off at some point (see more in Vessels > Bowls > Draped)... this is true also if you've used Vaseline or cornstarch, metallic powder, etc., as a release
.....if you've used a mechanical release like aluminum foil or paper or cardstock around the form and under the clay, it shouldn't be too hard to remove... but if it is, try twisting it off while the clay is still warm
the new silicone oven mitts works well to keep your hands from burning when doping this, or just use a hand towel. Patty B.
...Kato Polyclay is not as fragile as other brands when warm (as other brands). Donna says, "When I make small box vessels covering a clay form I can actually twist the interior form to loosen the box walls without the walls breaking."
....However, if the clay around the form is fairly tall and the form has no flare at one end, the clay can be much harder to remove:
........use a bendable form like thickly rolled paper or maybe cardstock (....see also Freeform vessels above for ideas)
..........wrapping paper around the can 3 or 4 times would give it the extra needed thickness to twist it off. Judy
......maybe cut or create the form in two parts so that it can be moved or removed more easily
......make the form from polymer clay (or as a polymer cover), then use Repel Gel as a relase?
...... I greased the soda can with Vaseline, and it slid right out after baking...whaddyaknow! (the walls were perpendicular, the top & bottom openings parallel. Sharyn
......cut off and glue back together

(clay, metal, glass, porcelain forms)

....for using small or large rocks and other removable forms to create small container pendants, or larger rock-shaped boxes, see Vessels-Rock

Removable forms can also be made from clay when a release is used
....the clay form is created, then baked
....the baked clay form is then covered with raw clay and a release (such as metallic or cornstarch powder, Repel Gel, or ArmorAll), and they are baked together
....after baking and removing the solid form, a final decorative clay layer or embellishments may be added over the new baked clay if desired, and rebaked
....for most info on making clay forms to use as a removable armature or "former," see Making Your Own Form in Vessels-Rock

I have lots of layers or partial layers on my vessels, so I:
....cover the (
outside of a glass vase) with a sheet of scrap clay
....bake it and cut into halves while it is warm though I let it cool before removing the clay.
....then use super glue to put the form back together
.....glaze the inside with LS (to rebake it, I nest it in a polyfil lined bowl)...the LS glaze makes it very strong and saves me from having to sand inside.
....From there I add the rest of the decorative layers, being sure to support the form as needed. Jody

Elizabeth's 4-leaf vase... each tall leaf placed on one side of a rectangular bottle, with excess leaf flared back at top and leaf edges fluted... (also 3 coats of black Colored Liquid Sculpey on the outside of the vase... 3 coats of gold CLS inside...dimensional veins made with TLS plus Rhine Gold metallic powder)

I must look for small heart boxes..... I also paid $1 each for porcelain valentine boxes and $1 each for wire baskets, heart shaped. GCivy

For the large round bowls, I got glass that is as spherical as I could find (for my form). Clear glass lamp globes are easy to find. I have two different sizes of them. But my first success was with a giant 1000 watt light bulb; the kind that they use in parking lot lights. It has a dome diameter of about 6 1/2 inches. All but one of the round bowls on my site was made on the light bulb. When I think of draped, I think of a flat sheet of clay draped on a form. This type of bowl isn't really draped at all. It's made right on the glass. . . . my first several hemispherical bowls were made on the light bulb. James
.....The (forms) I currently use to create all my bowls are glazed ceramic balls which are made as garden ornaments. James

For round vessels with or without stoppers, using small glass ball ornaments. After baking, just gently compress the piece to break the glass inside. (you might need to put a release agent on the glass ball before applying clay (see Covering > Glass Balls and Light Bulbs for more)
making vessels by covering a light bulb with a layer of strong polymer (No Sculpey III) and then breaking out the bulb after it is baked. To break the bulb, stick the covered end into a paper bag and gather up the bag opening around the bottom of the screw end. Hold the metal screw end and give the bulb a sharp wack with the back of a heavy knife right where the glass meets the metal. This should break the glass away from the metal part and it will fall into the bag. Carefully pick up the clay covered bulb and squeeze it to break the glass inside. This takes a few squeezes. Just keep squeezing and dumping the broken glass out until it's all gone. Tape up the bag of glass shards and dispose of it. Rinse the clay vessel with running water and wipe with a paper towel to remove any tiny bits of glass that might be left. Now you can continue to embellish your vessel as you please. The standard bulbs make cute teapots and there are a lot of other fun shapes available. Jody B. (see Jody's video)
Marlene's (pomegranate-type) vessels based on Jody Bishel's video
....John Buckly would use Sculpey III for the first. (base) layer since it bakes up stiff... then he'd break out the glass (or wait till after the second layer, since Sculpey III might break??), and use Premo (or maybe Kato now) over it for strength. (John and Kay Buckley make vases and other forms over lamp bulbs) ....Judi
...Jenny’s sculpted gnome face boxes over lightbulbs (with removable hats) (website gone)

Smear the glass with vaseline in an even, fairly thick layer. the clay will tack to the vaseline, but after baking it will come right off the glass.
...I've done this with fancy lightbulbs that I wanted to keep rather than break. I use my exacto knife and slice the clay off, holding the blade at a slight angle so that you have a better surface to glue back together... I do this with one layer of "scrap" clay at #1. then glue with zap a gap and cover again. Patti

Hetty's geode boxes formed over spotlight bulb or ceramic mold (outsides are stone-like)

I covered one of those domed small glass display globes (covered with ArmorAll or other release?) and then removed it. For the base at the bttom I used clay (junk clay covered with appropriate matching color) and I cut a small hole in the back (not the bottom) of the "globe" to insert the night light "clip".. Jan Ohio (see her website at Covering--Glass)

Monica's lesson on making a small round container using the inside of a small cylindrical glass (she adds a second layer of clay and a bottom after pressing on the slices, then bakes....she then sits the glass in warm water before removing the clay container . . . .she uses an Xacto blade to cut off the rim of the container evenly; she then makes a cane slice lid (over the base sheet disk) and adds a smaller disk as a "stop" . . also adds a round ball for a lid handle

James Lehman's fabulous, freestanding (usually somewhat cylindrical, upright) vessels, or scupts (see more info below)... many over huge glass globes/bulbs

I use metal forms all the time without any adhesion problems - everything from cookie cutter boxes to night lights formed over metal bowls and foil-wrapped pyrex bowls. ....then the clay pops off with just a little loosening around the edges. sjwhyte

There are many interesting small metal bowls especially, though larger ones can be used too. Indian groceries or cooking stores often have small condiment "bowls" which are interesting shapes.

metal molds of all kinds could also be used (small or larger).
.... if the mold isn't flat when upturned so it will stand by itself, add feet or a ring of clay or press into raw clay base, bake, and glue back in to give it a stand.

bowls can be made from the copper halves of toilet tank floats…Alcina

I've made 4-5 inch star-shaped boxes with the largest of a set of graduated star-shaped, metal cookie cutters. The sides of the cutter were first covered with a band of clay, then the cutter was placed on a flat sheet of clay. Next, I cut around the outside of the clay-covered cutter with a blade (being careful not to push the cutter into the clay – just laying it on top), removed the excess, and smoothed the bottom to the sides then baked it cutter and all. I generally make the top after baking the bottom in case of variations in baking.
For the top, I remove the cutter from the baked bottom and use the cutter to cut out one piece for the inside and then (with the raw clay still inside the cutter) I cut a second star for the outer top, again using a blade to trim around the OUTSIDE of the cutter instead of pushing on the cutter. Leave a little excess if you want the top larger than the box.
Before removing the cutter from the larger piece,carefully press the inner piece onto the clay of the larger star. This lines up identical points since the cutters are almost never symmetrical. At this point you can bake the top as is and generally get a tight fit, or trim the inner star just a little for a looser fit. I have had good luck with baking as it comes out of the cutter, since you also lose the actual diameter of the cutter in the box dimensions.
This opens up an almost limitless range of box shapes. I've used some wonderful large ovals also.
..One warning about using the metal cutters with a re-inforced top rim - you might want to put a covering of paper or foil on the outside of the cutter before putting on the side clay, since removing the bottom of the box can be difficult if you cover the side of the rim also. sjwhyte
..Brenda's unusual, irregular shaped boxes made with cookie cutters ( can't tell what cutter shapes were supposed to be)...cane slice sheet tops

Polymerclayexpress' lesson on making an inro -type box pendant with tall petit four (small) metal cutters ....and lids with "stops"
...(one of these cutters is shaped similarly to the Advantix film canisters).
...Emily's tiny boxes formed around petit four cutters, with lids (website gone)

I just made my first oval box using an aluminum cola can as a base for the clay slab and also as a cookie cutter to cut out the bottom and the lid. I greased the can with vaseline, and it slid right out after baking. Whaddyaknow! The top and bottom openings were parallel, and the walls perpendicular! Sharyn

sturdy metal "rings" of various sizes/shapes . . . good for making boxes (round, square, rectangular, and more) (look around)

cardboard, cardstock, papier mache & wood ...(porous materials)

If you want papier mache to release from the clay after baking, wrap it in aluminum foil or paper, or coat with Repel Gel or another release, or soak it out)
(If you want the papier mache to stay inside the clay, coat it with white glue, acrylic paint or finish, etc ,before adding the clay.)

my boxes were formed over one of the little cardboard boxes (papier mache?) you can get at michaels or hobby lobby, etc..
.... sometimes i soak the boxes out ....sometimes i just pull them out. olrebbie. .

Julia's lesson on all clay box, using papier mache box with alum. foil
...I wrap the papier mache box all over the outside with aluminum foil.
...Then I roll out a sheet of clay on the pasta machine, cut it into strips (slabs), and apply them to the sides (with a little room left at the top for easy removal) and bottom, sealing the seams lightly with my thumb.
...Then, I either apply designs to the unbaked clay, or I bake it and add details later.
...After baking, the papier mache box slides out of the clay box, and the aluminum foil peels right off. Julia

Lynelle's round boxes with lids made over cardboard tubes
... she covered the cylinder with scrap clay, baked... used it to cut out a bottom which was added....added a decorative clay layer, baked... removed tube

Janet used the empty rectangular box from a bar of soap (Dove soap) to create the bottoms of some of her tall, slender boxes
...Michelle's lesson on covering a small cardboard soap box to make vessels with lids,,HGTV_3352_1909744,00.html (... one of these has thick "legs")

Donna Kato's lesson on making a vessel over a removable cardboard tube or drinking glass, then adds a bottom; she covers a number of other techniques here too!,1793,HGTV_3433_1375704,00.html

Donna Kato's lesson on making a free-standing translucent candle holder (like a luminaria) over cardstock which is wrapped around a fat candle --bottom added

Donna Kato's lesson on making a lantern (with cut outs) to sit around over a votive candle (or pillar candle) using aluminum foil-covered cardboard tube form,1158,CRHO_project_1284,00.html

...I use toilet paper rolls or you might try smaller cardboard rolls from gift wrapping. I manipulate it into an oval shape and cover with a layer of heavy aluminum foil, tucking the ends into the inside and securing with masking tape. If you have craft sticks (popscicle type), cut a piece and wedge it into the top and bottom to retain your oval shape. Works like a charm. ...You can then add you top and bottom with a line of TLS and raw clay. Michele
...I used TP roll innard to make a shamrock shaped vessel --three sections cut open and put together.

Shari David's cylindrical candle shield, with star hole cut out from it

(for making a rainstick from a tp tube, see Kids > Other Toys)

here is a link to a template to make your own matchboxes...
...... I would recommend using cardstock or even a little heavier weight paper so the form will hold up to the clay. Lisa D.
.......RuthAnn says this match box cover is exactly the right size to fit the smallest size pad of Post-It notes (2 x 1.5 inches), so instead of making the box bottom, just slip a package of notes inside the decorated top.
....(for making or covering matchboxes, see Covering > Paper)

lamb's lesson on covering a ginger-shaped box pattern with polymer clay, then removing paper/cardstock (suggested by Alisa)
...There are other, very differently shaped box patterns at Inkastamp's website (>site index >boxes) as well, in addition to the "ginger box" used for this particular project. They should all be coverable!
(The direct link to the ginger box pattern is:; their other box patterns at:
... And BTW, it's quite ingenious to use pinking shears to cut the joining outlines so that there are lots of little tabs to put glue on; maybe that's something box makers have been doing for a long time, but I didn't know about it.

(...see many lessons and templates for folding boxes, and for making rigid boxes, in Boxes-Gift....)

I use some balsa wood (as a form)...easy to saw and manipulate. I cut 2 pieces from a rectangular rod, and 2 from a rod that was curved on one side and flat on the other (a "half round"). (This particular) result was an oval vessel shape. Tricia
...lengths could be stacked for other box sizes and shapes too

I liked a tiny wooden block (the kind you get from craft shops in the unfinished wood stuff.) I covered with a tightly wrapped smooth layer of foil and built the clay on top of it. Once baked the foil acted both as a mold release and (since I used two layers) as a kind of spacer, so I could release the box from the mold (I did have to rip the foil -- it was a tight fit!)
..(smooth, wood) Jenga blocks are great for this! Jenny

various materials

Patty's lesson on making a box with a removable form which is covered with alum. foil or paper
... (or this could be used to make a scrap clay form):
(I've made boxes that are square, rectangular, round, pentagonal, oval, star and hexagon shaped)
...LESSON: find a form (of any shape and material) that you can cover with aluminum foil .... oatmeal box, wood block, metal cookie cutter, etc.
...cover the outside of the form with cheap (thin?) aluminum foil keeping it as smooth as possible (leave some sticking out or pressed to the inside for grabbing and removing later?)
...use the thickest setting on your pasta machine to roll out your clay sheets to cover (each side of?) the form
........if your form is circular, try to do it with only one sheet
........if square, etc., use the naturally occurring corners to join sheets of clay (for these corners, I find that beveling the corners to make a 45 degree angle gives a better joint (than overlapping one side). . . . don't put the bottom or top on yet
...smooth seams well (= less sanding later)
...bake for the full time recommended
...after baking, but while warm, gently hold the baked item in one hand with a hot mitt or towel, and tear away the aluminum foil.... this will release the form so it can then be slid out.
...set your piece down to finish cooling, making sure it is even
(BOTTOM) when cool, place the baked form on a sheet of thick clay, and carefully cut around it with an Xacto knife (working on a tile or sheet of paper makes it easier to rotate as you cut)
...turn the form upside down . . . add a thin film of liquid clay to the edge
...attach the bottom by firmly blending the outside edges together.
...turn the box back over and place it on an index card or manila folder (or sheet of graph paper?) and square up the form. apply a tiny line of liquid clay on the inside of the joints... and place tiny snakes of clay on the liquid clay... using a clay shaper tool or a knitting needle, blend the new clay to both the bottom and sides of the box......smooth all seams well.
...bake again for the full time and temperature. Patty Barnes
(for LID instructions by Patty, see below in "Lids")

iPod case (cover) --a thin box, open-topped... in this case also hung from neck with beaded necklace as a carrier... aluminum foil form used as a temporary armature, by beadizzygrl
...for photos and lesson, see Vessels-Rock > Other Small Vessels & Containers

Sue (Heaser) showed how to use an aluminum foil-covered raw potato as a removable armature to create a 3-D shape or vessel (leaving one side uncovered to remove potato later) in her book Creative Home Decor
... for the 3-D heart she made, she cut off the ends of the potato, then cut it in half lengthwise (leaving a flat side)
... she then carved the heart shape removing all brown skin...covered with foil all over, and then a layer of clay on all but back side, embellished ... the potato needs to be baked for 45-60 min... cool... dig out potato and remove alum. foil ...a back can be created in one of the ways above if desired (...could be a bowl but interior would be rough from crumpled foil)
... I like that idea because when you use a potato, you carve it to whatever size and shape you find pleasing, and go from there (but when you use a rock, you have to find just the right kind of rock with the right shape)... Gabe

Stan P's many boxes (not sure what forms, if any, were used)

Deb's Easter-type basket with handle made over an egg; after baking the egg is removed

some other possibilities for armatures?
....(for using cornstarch packing peanuts or cornstarch clay, etc., see Cornstarch)
.... lace (or cheesecloth or other fabric?) can be used with a stiffener like Aleene's or a thick sugar-water solution to create shapes (freeform or created over forms) after drying... could we use something like this technique to create lightweight, hollow armatures?
cut lace a bit larger than outside of your form... cover the form with plastic wrap, then dip the lace in fabric stiffener, and place over form... allow to dry. (from Karen AZ, re plastic egg halves)
... for creating hollow beads (small or lg), see Beads > Hollow
...for more on various armatures which may be removable, see Armatures

see also Vessels-Rock for using rocks or other forms to make small or larger containers ("rock vessels").. covering is cut off the rock around the middle after baking then embellished
...that page overlaps with this category on removable armatures

PERMANENT forms (left in)

(see Websites, at bottom, for many more examples of boxes)
(...see many lessons and templates for folding boxes, and for making rigid boxes, in Boxes-Gift....)
(see Covering for many types, also Armatures for covering PVC forms)

wire mesh ...for boxes and other shapes

see more on wire mesh in Armatures

I've just completed experimenting with the new wire mesh (called WireForm by Paragona ..other brands?) in constructing boxes. It's absolutely fantastic for armature in regards to right angles. This would apply to miniature houses. Structural wire mesh comes in a box of 3 16x20 sheets and retails for $9.95.
...You can get it from Polymer Express ... 800-844-0138.
...I think Dick Blick online also carries it.
...If you qualify for wholesale (combined with FIMO orders) you can order from Accent Import-Export 510-827-2889.
...(Or buy at hobby or possibly craft stores)

Tips for working with the mesh:
coat a length with slabs, and decorate it while flat. I underline the mesh with another slab of clay, embedding the mesh. You can then bend the piece (over a right angle ledge) into a box shape. If you are 'cubic' inclined - you can create the form in one piece and then fold it together like a box. The mesh can be cut with scissors or a tissue blade! It's quite rigid when baked. Creatively Yours, Barbara A. McGuire
....Barbara's lesson on making a 3 1/2" high, rectangular vessel, by embedding WireForm, bending the clay-wire sandwich, joining the loose sides, baking, then using bottom of the form as a cutter for a bottom piece ... but pattern pdf gone, so don't know where to bend the 3.5" x 7.5" strips to get a box that 's "square at one end and rectangular at the other end"... does she close up on end of this rectangular tube?? or something),,HGTV_3399_1370901,00.html

Could cut a "plus" shape of mesh, cover with clay, then fold the sides up into an open box shape? (DB)
... Diane that would work, but you would not get a sharp corner...the clay on outside would stretch around the radius of the bend (rounding it)... and the clay on the inside would bunch up and make a 'bead/fold' on the inside.
........Might I sugest that you fold the mesh first, and then press flat slabs onto the screen --one slab on the inside of each face, then do the outsides.
....or, before folding, how about getting an Exacto 'V' carving gouge and cutting out a groove on the inside of the clay where each inner corner will be folded... save these strips of clay, then after folding the box attach the strips to the outside will need a bit more clay because the outer side is longer (wider?) then the inner side. Lysle

In metal weaving you make a "paper" vessel... then cut it up and lay it flat so that you can use the flat shape as a template for a sheet of metal. This sheet of metal is the warp[?] and you weave another sheet of metal into it as the weft[?], or you can weave in wire or other materials. Seems to me you could do this in clay too. .Jami

Donna Kato's lesson on making cylindrical candle holders (could be vessels) with split and rolled top parts using embedded WireForm

Barbara McGuire's lesson on making a plate (round? rectangular?) using a sandwich of clay and mesh, and a paper template;
....she textures the plate by tracing over a drawing on tracing paper, then goes over with ball point stylus pulling it always toward her, brushing off any curls of clay after baking
....edges of plate can be bent up if desired after decorating but before baking (plate also has border of cane slices),,HGTV_3240_1378770,00.html

Laura Timmins' fancy vases, bowls, and pieces mostly made with aluminum wire and mesh armatures (gone?)

Many of the removable armatures can also be left in rather than removed.


(see Websites, at bottom, for many more examples of boxes)
(see Boxes-Gift for lessons and templates for folding boxes, and for making rigid boxes to cover or embellish).
(see Covering for more info --veneers, etc.)

papier mache boxes in various sizes and shapes are available at the craft store inexpensively... these can be covered with clay (or soaked out)
...If I want to use thin sheets of clay and have a more reinforced box, I will cover the entire outside of the papier mache box with Sobo glue, then apply the clay as above, embellish, and bake. After baking the clay is pretty much fused to the box since the glue bonds so well with the polymer during baking. Since the papier mache box has become part of the overall box form, I'll usually take some metallic acrylic paint and paint the inside of the papier mache box a color to complement my exterior designs. Julia
short project book for kids (or beginners) on how to cover 2 shapes of papier mache boxes from craft store (round & hexagonal) and their lids (& also sculpt a character or mini scene to sit on the lid) All Covered Up!, by Becky Meverden

various covered boxes, most with large items on top as finials or handles... some also embellished in other ways

pasteboard boxes ("cardboard," fairly rigid boxes with lids) can also be covered with clay

Marie S. added polymer clay embellishments to a (painted?) pasteboard box

Carol Shelton covered the 4 sides plus the top of a cardstock box she cut from a pattern, with 5 squares of decorative clay, so that when it was folded up, the clay would cover all the visible areas except the underneath

Debi's covered wood boxes with squiggles of clay gun extrusions (website gone)
...the smaller, cheaper (basswood?) boxes (from Walmart for 99 cents) are often just glued together... the glue will degrade when heated (and can come apart later)...and where the box had already started coming apart, sometimes the clay would crack there... for those types of boxes, I use those tiny nails to reinforce the construction before I de-moisturize them and then cover with a layer of white glue... then they seem to stay together. Carla

cylindrical boxes ...add just a disc of polymer clay to the top and bottom . Tom

making small bottles/vessels. . . go to a plastics supply house and get some lucite tubing. cut it to the height you are shooting for. This tubing comes in a verity of sizes and wall thicknesses.
Plexiglas and Lucite are one and the same and are both brand names for polymethylmethacrylate (or acrylic for short).
...Polystyrene is a really clear plastic, too, but I don't know how it reacts with the PVC plasticizer in poly clay (melts if left in contact with raw clay over time!).
, I think is what Lylse is thinking about, and is stronger (I don't know about heat resistance) than Plexiglas and usually just slightly bluish. I had to look up what Lexan's actual chemical formula was at work just a few weeks ago, but I have forgotten already! I don't think it is polystyrene, though. 

canejane's tiny covered soda caps (metal or plastic?), with lids

...Sandy covered plastic caps from bottles of water... believe she kept the baking time short and the temp not too high?

Susan L's perfume bottles made by covering eggs with polymer, then cutting a hole in the top for a stopper and adding a spindle base (website gone)

Lisa Pavelka's lesson on covering and/or embellishing a purse form (or could strip and old, casual or evening bag, etc., and use),,HGTV_3239_1397691,00.html
more of Lisa's purses (her minaudieres --tiny evening bags)

Naamaza's covered glass or ceramic vessels (look also at other pages)

Omodt's dishes, bowls, platter using cane slices under glass dishes, etc.

BOWLS, plates & trays

made by "Covering"

One way to make bowls, plates and trays that can be used directly for food, is to cover glass items from the underside
then the baked clay won't actually be touching anyfood, but the patterned clay will still show though.

sinilga's beautiful glass plate(s) with canes and mokume gane clay under the glass (some also have clay borders extending to the top side of the plate on the rim)
Melnik's bowls, where only the underside of a glass bowl is covered so one can eat from the bowl
...note: the sides of bowls must be widely angled so the inside will be visible, or the outer part of the covered bowl will show the most which won't be shiny unless shine is added (gone)

Barbara McGuire's lesson on making a plate (round? rectangular?) using a sandwich of clay and wire mesh, and a paper template;
....she textures the plate by tracing over a drawing on tracing paper, then goes over with ball point stylus pulling it always toward her, brushing off any curls of clay after baking
....edges of plate can be bent up if desired after decorating but before baking (plate also has border of cane slices),,HGTV_3240_1378770,00
...(see more on using wire mesh as a permanent armature in Armatures-perm > Wire)

front of plate embellished with clay (for display only) ... large bas relief scupt of Spring Girl with textured dress... in center of plate a photo is held down around its perimeter with cane slices

Alan, you could place a smaller glass bowl in the middle of your openwork clay bowl, so it could then hold either water or potpourri! (or food) Sue

made Over Temporary Forms (removed after baking)

Clay is put onto the under-side or back side of a a non-porous form (either pressed to it, or draped lightly over it with the item upside down), to create the basic bowl shape
... the clay is baked on the form...and popped off after baking.

Bowls can be made shallow (like "trays") or deeper, and they can be made in various shapes as well as round, depending on the form used and how the clay is put onto it.

Glass and metal are the most often used materials to form the bowls because they are slick and non-porous so the clay can be easily removed from them after baking, but other things can be used too especially with releases (see Armatures-Temporary).

If the clay is pressed tightly to the glass or metal, the surface when removed will have a nice shiny. finish automatically where it touched (because the clay will soften to the texture it's pressed against while hot)
.....some of the less shiny/smooth metals will produce less shine or no shine on the baked clay (and may be harder to remove)

(If you use a weak clay Sculpey III or FimoSoft, the finished bowl will be much more brittle so easily broken later and harder to remove without breaking than if using Premo, Kato, or I presume Bend and Bake --see Char's of Clays for strength of the other brands
...if Sculpey is all you have though, be careful when removing it and don't make the top tooo thin, and also coat the back of the finished bowl with a layer of liquid clay and rebake for a little more strength.

Bowls are shaped on the bottom of the forms (so that the form is generally upside down).
...the forms should be covered only up to the point at which the form stops flaring out (baked clay won't stretch so it also can't be removed from "undercut" areas after baking.
Some forms don't have enough flare to allow covering them up very high, again because the baked clay won't stretch enough to be removed; these forms can still be used to create shallow bowls and trays though.)

Marina's mini- lesson on making a bowl, using the inside of a bowl as armature rather than the outside... (or use the convex side of a mold)
. . . since this leaves the inside and more visible part of the bowl less smooth, could another bowl of the same size and shape be used to press that surface of the clay flatter by pushing it into the other bowl?? (then removing to bake)
*** look now at ---> http://www.marieidraghi.itCiotola.htm

leaving some holes
...using large cane slices ...I''ve always been partial to the work of M C Escher, so I thought I'd try to use my butterfly wing canes in an interlocking pattern to make some bowls. I could have fitted them together much more completely (like traditional tessellations), but that would've needed every alternate one to be inverted. I think I prefer the gaps. ...the bowls certainly don't hold water(!) but as pot pourri holders they may be OK. Alan V.
.......... you could place a glass bowl in the middle, so it can hold either water or potpurri! Sue holes ...a background clay applied after flowers (actually individual petals)
Cindy P's bowl ...holey only on the bottom portion where she's used a squiggled fat rope (flattened by the form) of clay before using clay slices for the rim of the bowl s
(....see more below in Draped, etc.)
...Cindy P.also has a bowl where the fat clay rope is spiraled for the bowl bottom of the bowl (no gaps left)

For vessels which you want to hold water, just the baked clay will be fine with continuous water contact for some time if baked correctly (up to 20 days, or longer?)
.......if you want to totally waterproof it though, add a coat or two of liquid clay inside the vesssel (which will also make the clay more rigid)
..however, PC is porous enough that perfume oils will soak into the surface. Sarajane
(see more on porosity and sealers in Outdoor > "Sealers for continuous water contact")

(see below for lessons...)

ideas for how to use the bowls or trays

to hold earrings overnight.... or a wedding ring while washing dishes
.....Michelle Ross' lesson on making a fancy ring holder tray in a "teapot" shape,,HGTV_3236_3105718,00.html
.......she created a form first (rather than just using the back of a small bowl --to avoid marks-indentions on bottoms of most bowls??)
..........coated the inside of a very small bowl with Repel Gel, pressed in a wad of scrap clay, baked, and removed her "form"
......drew and cut out a teapot shape on cardstock... then cut out a sheet of clay in same shape
......(with form upside down) coated the rounded side of the "form" with Repel Gel, and shaped the teapot-shaped sheet over it
......added a base ring of clay on top (using strip of clay ), and attached firmly with liquid clay ... baked
......after cooling and removing, applied cane slices or other embellishments... baked again ... (seal if desired)

to hold: ....cornstarch or baby powder for use as a release (make a "dip" in both sides of the rim to hold a paintbrush for the powder?)

use as paper clip tray.....coin-change tray .... tiny trash can for a desktop

I made a bowl that I wanted to use for floating candles which requires water to stand in the bowl for at least the time they were burning... the water would be emptied after each use.... I've also been toying with the idea to glue small pieces of mirror to the bottom for some awesome reflections. Valerie
......I would think that would be fine ... AS LONG AS you keep the actual flame or any hot liquid wax away from the clay. The only problems I know of are in some cases when the clay has been in long-term, continuous contact with clay. Diane B.

If the form is glass and it is not removed from the inside of the clay after creating the bowl, the bowl can be used for holding food because it won't actually be touching the food (...and the patterned clay will still show). DB
Alan, you could place a smaller glass bowl in the middle of your openwork clay bowl, so it can hold either water or potpourri! (or food) Sue

...see also Removable Forms above, under Boxes, for more ideas on making and using

forms to use

glass custard dishes (great to start with), all kinds of bowls, rounded drinking glasses or candleholders, glass coasters & ashtrays, small metal cake? forms, other metal food molds, metal measuring cups, metal lids (though if colored, be sure and use a release), light bulbs (any size, but especially the large globes), glass lightbulb fixtures, metal cookie cutters (these require a special technique), etc. (once you begin looking for these shapes, you'll begin to see them everywhere --craft stores, kitchen supply stores, and import stores are good places to look)

I made (a base) form by laying clay over a glass ball (fishing float). I have to admit I did pray for no explosions in the oven since the float had no opening! LOL Then I added cane and rebaked. Andrea
...I make most of the bowls around some (3" or 6"?) glazed pottery spheres which my good lady wife found at a garden decoration supplier. I believe they were intended for use in water features. Alan
...for my large round bowls, I got glass that is as spherical as I could find (for my form).
......clear glass lamp globes are easy to find. I have two different sizes of them.
.....(large bowls)... But my first success was with a giant 1000 watt light bulb; the kind that they use in parking lot lights. It has a dome diameter of about 6 1/2 inches. All but one of the round bowls on my site was made on the light bulb. James

These shapes are made on solid forms (a plaster shape that I made, and a real gourd) ...The technique is related to Dustin's rock purse forms. The whole object is covered and baked. Then the clay skin is sliced and taken off the form in halves. The halves are glued back together with TLS and this shape is then covered with a decorative layer of clay. ...I believe that I can make all sorts of complex shapes that integrate together to form very large sculptures that would be quite structural and 100% polymer! James and
....(see more on cutting baked shells open in Vessels-Rock
> Large Rocks... and above in Hollow Forms)

"hemisphere molds" (stainless steel "molds-forms"). . . non-solid ...can use the inside or outside for shaping (3-8 cm ...1 1/4" to 3 1/4" dia.) (12 cm) (10-20cm ...4/34" to 8" diameter...good for nice smooth bowl forms)
....Tory Hughes used the bowl of a ladle for her bowl form, but she had to file down the area where the handle had been)

silicone sheet molds (these can be baked with clay in them, and are non-stick --orange-colored) ...each sheet is 7x12" (look at all pages)
.... sheets have round and other shapes like ovals, candy mold shapes, etc. . . ..... for example, the sheets of round molds produce items from 1-1/2" dia. x 1/2" deep, to 2-3/4" x 1-1/4"
.....The silicone can withstand temps up to 500 degrees. One technique that I particularly like:
--I *lightly* brushed the inside of (two of the round mold indentations) with Armorall
--applied a thin coat of Kato Liquid polyclay and baked. Let cool.
--I applied a second coat, cooked, cool . . .
--and then a third coat (don't bake this one yet). . . to this I apply very thin transluscent cane slices to the unbaked liquid clay
--Gently press the slices into the mold and bake again.
(--You can continue adding liquid clay and/or slices as desired.)
-- Once you're satisfied with the design, simply pop the two halves out of the mold and join the two halves using more slices and liquid clay.. . . For this final bake, you can actually bake the ball in the mold so it doesn't roll around and to hold it steady while baking. Jan R.

The best of these forms will have no writing or convex shape on their bottoms:
....any writing will be imprinted in the bottom of the clay bowl (though it may not show if the clay is patterned)
....and the convex shapes are hard to keep air bubbles out of --and if there is an air bubble, the clay it was pressed against won't be shiny like the rest of the bowl).
....however, see Cindy P's lesson on making a bowl with lid on a glass bowl form...her bowl bottom is made separately to avoid impressions and rim from the original bowl form)

or make your own form (see Armatures-Temporary)
...including bowl made with armature of polystyrene foam hemisphere tightly covered with aluminum foil, dome side covered with clay slices (by Garie)
...Shirlyn's hollow side table ( open on one side) made by covering a rectangular block of polystyrene with aluminum foil, then covering all but one side (bottom) with clay, adding feet to bottom... baking... removing foil and foam... then made into a cabinet by adding a hinged door to open side after baking?)
(wouldn't this leave a textured surface inside the bowl from the alumin foil?... he did cover with liquid clay though --perhaps that fills in the texture some, in addition to giving gloss)

misc. bowls (websites)

Cindy P's many bowls, various techniques
Jan's short bowl with lid & top handle for lid
*Tory Hughes interview bowl with "feet" (photos and business/life explorations)

Chris Ws bowl with
(rooster) "head" ... attached over rim, extending upward (balanced so won't fall over, or lightweight armature inside?)
The Rock Garden's simulated earthclay bowls, with unpinched clay ropes spiraled on their upper halves, etc., and some onlays on top parts)
Evelyn's (faux jade?) bowl with onlaid flattened dots of clay
Carol B's bowls with patterns continuous from inside to out (large sheet fitted down into form, then fitted back down outside of form?)
Nancy's bowls made with contiguous ropes of Balinese Filigree shapes (using color gradient extrusions)
(more on Balinese Filigree in Clay Guns > Bal. Filigree)
Alan has a freestanding geodesic bowl (if feet or base added) made from five isosceles triangles (each 2 sides same length)... or could be used as box top?
Laura Timmins' fancy vases, bowls, and pieces (all but jewelry now gone)

Debi's pinch pot with flaring lip and decorations (website gone)

LOOK FOR ALL THE FOLLOWING from this page instead?
...small bowls, holding figures for incense sticks (see more on incense and incense holders in Sculpting-Gen > Sculpting Other Items)

....Cindy P's spice bowl (rosemary, sage, cloves, and some roots... food chopper first; (non-shiny) metal mixing bowl as form) (gone?)
....Cindy P's dome lid (on reversed-dome bowl) (gone?)
....Cindy P's bowl with beautiful leaves creating the top portion of the bowl

Lorraine G's heavily embellished, unusually shaped "bowl" with cane slices and wire, beads (actually began as pinch pot rather than draped) (gone?)

SHANEANGEL "new", bowls, lumpy beads, mini teacups, etc. (still not available??)
Lucille's cane slice bowls (bowl gone?)
Lori G's mixed media bowl (bowl gone)
Kathleen F's bowl with mosaics on inside and outside of plate (this is a covered plate??) (click on Details)

Cane Slices ... or Cane Slice Sheet or sections ... or Draped Sheet (LESSONS)
(over temporary forms)

select a form and cut slices (same-thickness)

--Make sure you have a sufficient length of cane for the size bowl you want to create and for the thickness of the slice you want to cut. All of the bowls in the photos from my class were made with less than 5-7" of 3/4" diameter cane. Of course, you can always use other canes to supplement.

--Cut about 10-20 slices to begin (maybe after refrigerating the cane? --see Canes/Cutting). (keeping them the same thickness now will avoid more work later!)

--The slices shouldn't be too thin (less than 1/8") or the joints may be too easily broken when the baked clay is removed, especially the top row of canes --around the rim)

--The (canes) slices may be round, square, triangular, or another shape, though this will affect the pattern created by the slices --the canes with straight or nesting sides can be butted firmly together; otherwise overlap the cane edges slightly (to create strong joins).

--If the cane slices are round, the top rim of your finished bowl will look gently scalloped; if they are square, the rim will be a series of triangle tips (these can be left as is --see blue cane bowl--, or cut off evenly --the edge will look a little different though: you can metallicize the edge, add trim to the top, or roll it, e.g., if you want-- or anything else you can think of).

direct application... of slices (or sections)... flattened

Often no release is necessary, because the clay can be worked off the form to break the vacuum (which happens suddenly)

....or you can use a thin layer of Vaseline (small amount or will be too slippery) or ArmorAll (only very small amount then wipe off, if you want to bond that area to more clay later, or apply a finish, or not have it too slippery) if you want to try a release.... it may help or not... and those won't affect the appearance of the baked clay at all
.........using one of those may be more helpful when using less-smooth surfaces like the brushed metal of some mini pans, etc.
....release powders like cornstarch won't work as well because of the non-horizontal surfaces involved ... it's actually best for the clay to stick to the surface when making these bowls, because that helps keep the slices on the slanted surfaces of the form, and also makes them end up very flat to the surface without air bubbles or unevenness

--if using slices, cut some of them now (maybe not all of them if you're new to this), separating them from each other as you slice
.......make the slices reasonably thick
.....if using sections, or combining sections with slices, cut them to shape now, or fit in as you go (these could be strips, or any shape)

--begin laying the slices or sections on the form (beginning in the middle especially for slices), then build outward from there
...... or begin around the edge and build to the middle and up the sides (this may create a different look though)'s important to make any joins near the top (rim) very strong! (...that's where the most stress will occur when removing after baking)

(--cut more slices now that you've gotten a little experience in applying them)

You may want to use different canes here and there or for whole rows
..... or you may want to change the size of the slices from a can by rolling the same cane smaller (this can be helpful around the problematic edges of rectangular forms), .....or you can press the cane into another shape, add strips of other colors or patterns, etc.

If the form you're using has any kind of a tiny extending or rolled edge, etc., do not apply clay too close to the top (rim) of the form because it will be difficult to get your fingers underneath the top of the baked clay to loosen it.

--Notice where the applied slices are especially taller than the others, and press you finger straight down on those areas to thin them as evenly as possible.

--Press your finger down on most of the joins too. This should create a fairly smooth outer surface.

--To make a still smoother surface, lay a small piece of thin paper (tracing or parchment, e.g.) over a small area and rub your finger on the paper in small circles; move to another area and repeat. This will make the surface very even. You can also use a roller of some kind over these areas. I like to use an acrylic rod or piece of PVC pipe and roll the rod back and forth over small areas.

I use a stainless steel cereal bowl turned upside down on a table or whatever.
....cut cane slices a little thinner than 1/4" ....and lay these all on the bowl with edges butting up against each other. Make the design you like....slices can be picked up and rearranged until you like it. ...I use no release between the clay and the bowl.
....Fill in all the small spaces between the slices with a solid color or with smaller cane pieces until you have the smallest spaces between stuff as you can.
....I use a rubber ink brayer and then beginning at the highest part of the bowl (will later be the bottom because it's upside down) start smoothing out the slices and getting them to all go together. Sometimes this takes some muscle. It isn't a delicate step.... Work your way with the brayer all around the bowl. Careful of the edge or lip of the bowl that you don't run over the edge with the brayer or you get a thin edge. Bake. shaneangel

Milly Pheeory’s cane slice bowls (Linda Bernstein)
M.Reid’s bowls, etc. ("Two Large Bowls") slices, direct
cane slice bowls and sheet-draped bowls made in my class (add lighter/bigger later--DB)
Teri P's bowls using lots of translucent (+ flowers, fruit slices, etc.)
Nancy L's bowls of various types and shapes (swirl, etc.) (click on "Single Page" for closeup---bottom right)
Alan V's bowls with quilt pattern (Trip Around the World)
Alan V's glow-in-the-dark cane slice bowl
Alan's beautiful stained glass bowl
....some made as miniatures for tiny Tiffany lamp shades
Indianapolis guild's bowls
Cindy's bowls (click on all)

or a sheet-of-slices.... or sections or pieces of clay

--Lay out your slices on a sheet of waxed paper in a round shape (you can place a drawing of the final size circle you want under the waxed paper as a guide, if you like)
....if shapes of slices will nest together (rectangles, some triangles), butt them together
....if shapes of slices won't nest (round), overlap them a bit
......or fill in with other raw clay (translucent or colored) before or after baking (liquid clay might work too, but will run out if sides of bowl are too tall or too steep an angle

---When all slices (or sections) of clay are applied, roll over the slices with a brayer or in the pasta machine to meld them together (can add a second piece of paper to keep roller from sticking)
....and/or place tracing or other thin parchment-type paper over the sheet, and rub over that with fingers to smooth and join slices.

--Lay raw clay slice-sheet over an upturned form, and gently cup and press the sides of the clay until they fit the sides of the bowl.

--Make sure to keep air from under the bottom of the form, or that area will not be evenly shiny. may help to press the clay well at the top (what will be the bottom), then roll it down the sides.

--You can finish the edges, if you want, by adding rims.... onlaying more slices (before or after baking).....fluting them as you might a pie crust ...rolling them under.... or allowing excess clay to rest on a surface off the form altogether, etc.
.....Dawn has edges some which are curved back (resting off the form)
and back

Cindy's bowl made from sheet of translucent and variegated metallic foil... also backfilled with metallic paint in stamped areas
Cindy P's lesson on making a bowl with lid on a glass bowl form, using herbs/spices as inclusions in translucent
........her bowl bottom is made separately (avoiding the impressions and rim from original bowl form)

Alan V large cane slices for bowls.. his butterfly wing slices are applied to a bowl with gaps between.. wings touch in places for strength
...Cindy P's bowl made with large leaf slices in same way (slight gaps) ...feet too

Jacqueline used individual clay shapes ("leaves") to apply to a form (overlapped) which was later removed, for a bowl (multi-colored leaves, spaces between)
......and a
tall vase (identical-leaves, over a black interior sheet?)
(...see also Cindy's boxes with many overlapped small leaves, etc., in rows, below in Websites

Dawn's yellow and purple "tulip" bowl was made with several layers of pieces (each layer of pieces incomplete, just strengthening the previous layer) (dimensional)

Cindy's layered-pieces bowl with overlapped thick cane slice leaves, especially around rim flares back at top ...

Alan V. placed individual "petal" cane slices on a form to create "flowers".... then placed a backing sheet of clay on top of the flowers to hold all together (will appear as background for flowers) (dimensional) (shows backing clay layer from outside and inside)

Keith B's wondeful bowl created on round form with... red & white twisted rope (flattened ), wound around form w/ another narrower strip (cane, onlay??)... rims & feet

Marie's shallow wide "basket" made from flat noodles of clay (from pasta machine or clay gun?) woven together as bottom + fat twisted ropes around top edge (with onlaid flowers & leaves ..."Easter basket"?

James L's bowls created by using sections of cane slices, or other patterned clay ...puzzle-pieced together (non-dimensional)

The real trick with making bowls this way is getting the baked clay off the glass after baking (because the clay and form are a tight fit and create a vacuum) ....I found that two things work well together for me:
.....First, I did use a release.... spray a tiny bit of Armor All on a paper towel and wipe the glass with will leave a thin milky film on the glass.
........let it dry... it will get clear in 20 min or so
..........Armor All is nothing more than silicone suspended in water (however, it makes working the clay onto the glass's slippery, and it keeps getting on my hands so I have to keep washing my hands to prevent contaminating my clay.
............ I also have to be very careful about not getting ArmorAll onto the edges of any pieces that I want to bond together (or they won't bond). ...too little Armor All is definitely better than too much.
Sometimes, depending on how much of the sphere I have captured by the clay, the bowl will come right off. But if not...
....Second.... I use thin strips cut from the side of an aluminum pop can, and fish them down along the inside of the bowl and effectively cut the clay away from the surface of the glass. ...I usually cut a rounded end on the strip to prevent as much damage to the clay as possible. (I have accidentally cut some ruts this way, but I just do my best to sand them out).
(see more ways to remove the clay below in Bake, Remove & Finish)

the form used for my round bowls was glass that was as spherical as I could find.
....clear glass lamp globes (I have two different sizes).... but my first success was with a giant 1000 watt light bulb; the kind that they use in parking lot lights which has a dome diameter of about 6 1/2"
.....all but one of the round bowls on my site was made on the light bulb. James L.

Alan B's bowls with uneven rims... made over glazed pottery spheres bought for garden water feature

curved-bottom? rectangular bowl with large cane slice for sides

or whole sheet ..." draped " (loosely)

--You can begin with a sheet of clay that you already have, or make a new one.
......these can be simple or complex, and the sheets can be created in many ways
---few possibilities:
.....marbled: chop or twist clay (see Color > Marbling), and roll into a smooth ball. Select the side of the ball you like best and begin flattening it into a circular pad (if you find you don't have enough color or complexity, push the edges of the back side seamlessly onto the front side then continue flattening). Actually you will want a pad that's more of an oval. Stop flattening when your oval is just thicker than the largest opening on the pasta machine. Send the oval through the pasta machine (or roll with a roller) so that the shorter width of the oval will be widened. This should leave you with a disc shape.
.....regular stripes, or wavy stripes: (see Kids --and other?--Sheet of Wavy Stripes)
.....Skinner blends
.... crackled metallic leaf (for the one pictured--"2nd class," pink/purple/black-- the leaf was added before the clay was stretched very much, so that it wouldn't be heavily covered and not crackle too much)
...using a patterned clay sheet, or a patterned background for added slices, will create a more complex look

Beware of getting fingernail marks or other nicks in your flat sheet after making it! ... easy to do

--Either create the sheet in the the size and shape you want as mentioned above
..... or cut out the shape you want freehand from a sheet (see Blades > Cutting Sheets).... or with some kind of cookie cutter
.... or you can cut the edges with scissors, pattern scissors, cutters taking "bites" from the edge, etc.

--If you want to add slices to an already flattened sheet ( the front or back):
.... leave them dimensional .......or use very thin slices and press them into the surface somewhat with your finger .... or also then completely flatten them by running through the pasta machine another time on the second-thickest setting, or roll over with a roller
.....using a patterned background behind the added slices, will create a more complex look

...If you don't want a shiny finish (which will happen automatically wherever the clay touches a smooth glass or metal form), try placing a tissue or piece of fabric between the glass or shiny metal and the clay sheet
....or paint the sheet well with cornstarch, then wash it off after baking (talcum powder may not come off).
(...Repel Gel or another ca debonder or ArmorAll (applied thinly) should work as a release, but don't know if they would allow the partial shiny finish and ArmorAll will prob. repel an added finish)

--Decide which side of the sheet you like the best, and place that side UP on the table in front of you on a piece of paper. the bottom of the form onto the center of the sheet, then turn the form and sheet over (the "good" side should now be facing down and the form you're using will be upsidedown)
........however, if your bowl will have tall sides, the "underside" of the sheet may then be more visible in the final bowl, so you may want to reverse this

--If you want to pinch the sides a bit (for large fluting), as in some of the photos from my class), be sure the clay is soft enough so that it won't crack while you're bending it (warm the clay with your fingers and bend gradually).
......the bent areas will remain in shape while baking (most of our bowls were pinched in 4-6 places)

bowls made in my class with some draped sheets of slices, added-slices sheets, crackled leaf sheet, etc. ......
Dawn's beautiful draped bowls ... various shapes..... two-sided.... plus a few shallow bowls
.....also Dawn's yellow and purple "tulip" or flower bowl made over custard cup, with extending clay rolled back as "petals"... made in layers of pieces (same as above)
Suzy M's various draped bowls in amorphous shapes (click on Gallery)
many fluted bowls (draped)

Jean S's bowls draped? over large rock?... creating several shapes

Jacqueline's draped bowl using 3 layered pattern sheets, but separated randomly at outer edges for somewhat fluted-edge ("Baklava Platter" )
Naamaza's various bowls and covered vessels (look also at other pages)
Lucille's draped & other bowls
Donna Kato's interesting draped things (website gone)
*Kg's fabulous draped (fluted and/or uneven rim) and no-corner bowls (gone?)
Donna Kato's overlapped rectangles of clay forming bowl shape, interesting draped-sheet, (& her teapot) (website gone)

(see James' website pages above)
*James L's fabulous draped fluted bowls (different pattern on backs) --see info below

...for my fluted edge ones (just think coffee filter edges! OK, maybe really big, cardboard coffee filter. You dig?)
....I have also made a free form bowl with thin-gauge flashing aluminum ...I put a 6" dia. piece of water pipe (end down) in the center of a piece of sheeting... I (placed on piece of?) carpet and sat on it! .....then I pulled up the edges to make a better shape. James

After I finish wet sanding with each grit, (200, 400, 600, 1200, 1500, 2000), I wash the piece with a super soft sponge and high lather bar soap. I think this helps get all of the polymer dust out of all the tiny bubble holes in the surface. After the last sanding with 2000 grit, I wash it again the same way and buff it to a satin shine with an old soft cotton towel. Then I start to apply coats of Flecto, usually 2 coats, then light 2000 grit sanding and another two coats, etc... until I'm either satisfied with the shine or sick of the whole thing. James

see also Sue Heaser's wall clock made by rolling out a slab of clay and draping it over an upturned saucer (below in Clocks)

OR.... Pleated, Folded, Woven, other manipulations

Nora Jean's lessons on pleating a Skinner Blend or any length of clay pattern, etc., then wrapping horizontally around vessel forms ... some pleats are left dimensional, and some are completely flattened?

--Another possibility is to weave over a form ( see "websites" below... and also Pasta Machine > Noodles).

Other Additions

--Add a base of some kind .... or add handles ... or feet or legs . .. see above in "Feet")

--Add onlays like Andrea's flower (petals and center) which is on the bottom, underside, like a stand
. . . and her other slices on the underside of the bowl: one row has slices separated from each other, but the other is round slices reaching over from the front side across the top and half-way on the back ...forming a scalloped pattern (gone)

...see also in Miscellaneous below? for handles.... sloped rim... scrolling, etc. to add

--Add a small sculpture (like a seated bear) holding onto the side of the vessel

Lee Valley Hardware (box rings, pulls, & lots more)

Bake, Remove & Finish

--Bake the bowls upside down at 265-275 degrees for 15-20 minutes
--Let cool till just warm, or till fairly cool (your choice).

--To remove the clay bowls from the forms, first gently begin to loosen the rim of the clay by making several trips around the top, prying with your fingertips or fingernails just a little at each section.
........(If you see any joins in the top that seem thin or weak, try to keep your fingers centered over that area to disperse the force being put on it)
...Keep going around the edge until you can feel that parts of it are being released.
...Continue until the whole thing suddenly pops off
(...the shallower the bowl, the easier the removal!)

.....or.... While the bowl is hot right out of the oven stick it under cold running water and with your fingertips work on popping the clay off the bowl by working around the edge and loosening it. There is a big suction thing going on here. Shaneangel

(if the rim area breaks or separates, glue it back together with superglue, or better a bit of liquid clay and superglue next to each other (superglue will hold the parts together while rebaking activates the liquid clay)

(If you've used Premo, FimoClassic or Kato , the bowl will actually be slightly flexible; this is normal and will just bend or bounce if stressed or dropped
..... If you've used Sculpey or FimoSoft, it will be more rigid but much more likely to break
....any of them may break though if a heavy weight is placed on their rims.

The inside of the bowl comes out very shiny wherever it was attached well to the smooth surface of the form
.... the outside will be matte (or slightly shiny with Kato clay) can be left as is, or sanded and buffed to any degree of shininess, or coated with an acrylic finish (a Future finish is quick since it can be wiped on with a cloth --if the clay is warm during application the glossiness will be slight, if it's cool it will be more glossy... or brush on another clear sealer such as Varathane)
(or if you find any any dull spots in an otherwise shiny area)... Future or Varathane can be baked again for even more strength at 150 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool. That's it. Diane B.

HOLLOW forms
(and mostly-hollow and open forms like pots, vases, etc.)

There are various ways that hollow or mostly-hollow forms can be created.

(see also Beads > Hollow for small hollow pillow & lentil beads and rattle, and more hollow ideas which could be generalized to larger items)

(see also Ai-Ping's small "hollow" freeform boxes used for pins, ornaments, etc., above in Freeform)

(These are not all "vessels," but they could be vessels by cutting in half, or cutting their tops away to form bowls or vases or boxes or just any shape you need)

two parts (baked)

one covering ...which is CUT OFF to create two halves:
BAKED clay halves: You can bake a layer of clay completely covering any kind of bakable form (will often need a release agent applied ... see also polystyrene foams below))
....cut the clay all the way around, and remove the two pieces ... then glue the parts back together....finish the resulting hollow form as you wish
....... I've done it around smooth rocks and around ceramic shapes as well. Works great! LynnDel

..My large round and/or complex shapes are made on solid forms --a plaster shape I made, and a real gourd (the technique is related to Dustin's rock purse forms)
he whole object is covered, and baked... then the clay skin is cut, and taken off in halves.... the halves are glued back together with TLS ...this shape is then covered with a decorative layer of clay.
......I believe that I can make all sorts of complex shapes that integrate together to form very large sculptures that would be quite structural and 100% polymer! James & &
...(see more on cutting open baked "shells" of covered clay in Vessels-Rock > Large Rocks... and above in Hollow Forms)
......since I found that I could use Pliacre,a 2-part epoxy clay (see more in Sculpting > Other Clays), to fill and smooth not quite perfect rocks (after it cures ,it can be sanded smooth and the oven doesn't hurt it.), the next step from there would be to make your own custom forms by putting a layer of pliacre over an aluminum foil core. Jody Bishel
........I understand that taxidermists use this stuff.... It's a two part clay that gets kneaded together... rock hard and no problem with the clay once it has set up
........Most any of the regular release agents would be fine.
........I think this is the same idea as the stuff Marc Anthony Massaro was using over his wire armatures under clay.
RAW clay halves: I've been using baked and sanded clay over compacted aluminum foil as my armature ...I have several of these that I've used again and again.
...clay sheets are laid on the armature (talc is my release agent), seams blended then cut off and seams re-blended prior to baking.
...the clay must rest prior to cutting and re-blending seams.
...sometimes multiple cuts (and therefore multiple pieces) are necessary because of undercuts, (these are re-blended before the entire piece is reassembled).
...... I then use fiber fill as an interior support when baking (conversations with Kathleen Dustin led me to this technique; I'm fairly certain this is how she creates her Ethnic Evening Bags ..."rock purses". ) Katherine Dewey

two halves... CREATED separately:
...RAW: the Creagers, I think) posted about covering just half of a ball ....and then sticking it in the freezer for a while ....when it was nice and firm/cold, you slide it off the ball ...make two halves, then join them .......use as is, or and use as a base for covering
BAKED: the "lentil" bead technique is similar, but the halves are baked before being joined (...the edge of each half often needs sanding to fit together perfectly) ....(see Beads > Hollow > Lentils for more on that technique)

to create a vase or pot, etc., you could use 1 or 2 halves (created as above) as a removable armature (for all or part of the shape):
...create one hemisphere (or other shape) in one of the ways above... bake, and remove clay shell (this will be the bottom part)
...then do either of these (somewhat overlapping):
1. create a second shape, leaving an uncovered area on the round end for the vase opening ..(this will be the top part)...bake (you'd probably need to stuff or prop the shape while baking) ....then join the 2 together
....Donna Kato did something like this on Carol Duvall? (but can't find)... she used superglue to connect the two, then covered with a layer of decorative clay
.......for some, she had first added enough extra clay over the unit to be able to change its shape (so that the final form may have bulged in the middle like a bicone, or had a v-shaped neck, etc.)
2. or by hand, add raw clay to the open end of the first half to form whatever shape and opening you want for the top (use a bit of liquid clay and/or superglue to help hold the raw clay to the baked)

(....forms for any of those techinques could be 3-D "under-forms" of some sort, or concave molds)

other armatures-forms

food armatures:
...I have thought a lot about using royal icing to make hollow forms. I remember it being very stiff when I worked with it. Pipeable, but very stiff. Anyway, the idea is is pipe and/or sculpt the icing into the shape you want. Then cover w/clay, bake, and then wash the icing out. . . . . similar to using cornstarch stuff, except it would probably take more effort to wash it away.
I think it would work. We use it for our display wedding cakes. It's pretty hard to break unless you really try. Make sure to use the recipie with cream of tartar. There are several different recipies out there, but the ones without cream of tartar aren't as strong. ....dissolves in water
... one of the cornstarch clays should work when soaked ....ever tried "salt clay" as an armature--or even "bread" clay?
(....for more foods like potatoes, etc., used as dissolvable or removable armatures, see Armatures -Temporary

could use ice or wax to make a hollow globe.... (you drain the wax or water out after baking)??
couldn't wax work? You could form modeling wax, mold your clay over it leaving a hole for the wax to escape, and then suspend your piece over a tray to catch the melting wax.
warning: before starting to mold things around wax--
the fumes from melting wax will burn, and they can even explode.
...I have read a lot about people using wax as spacers in canes and forms, and then baking themn on absorbent paper. For the amount it would take to make a ping-pong size ball, it might be more hazard than it is worth. The fumes are heavier than air, that is why you melt wax in a water bath if you are doing it on top of the stove.
…another experiment i tried for hollow beads is make a ball of wax, form a layer of clay around it, then boil.... Water boils at 210'F?... the wax out, then take the bead a cure it further in the oven at 275'F
.......since wax arcs in the microwave, and i think putting wax in the oven is too easy to bring it to flash point, melting is best done in a double boiler? Faun
...Another possibility is to use a water-soluble wax which can be dissolved away before firing the clay
..... this sounds promising. . . where does one find water-soluble wax? jewelry supply houses and some foundry suppliers. Robert

polystyrene foams ... can also use polystyrene foams (Styrofoam, packing foams, etc.) as armatures to create hollow forms in two ways foam can be left in the clay by completely covering the ps with aluminum foil (or baby oil perhaps), then baking foam can removed from clay after baking if it's left partly exposed (without being covered w foil--which will cause it to shrink more)
....for more details (plus discussion of shrinking or melting rates and fumes) see Covering > Plastics > #6 Polystyrene
...examples: Els seems to use the polystyrene in two ways for her hollow forms: and
.......(several of the baked open shapes which were partially covered with clay are shown attached to clay bases which may help somewhat ... she advises baking the base along with the ball and clay)
.....could also make two halves from one whole by cutting open the clay shape after baking (like rock vessels)
Shirlyn's hollow miniature side table ( open on one side) made by covering a rectangular block of polystyrene with aluminum foil, then covering all but one side (bottom) with clay, adding feet to bottom... baking... removing foil and foam... then made into a cabinet by adding a hinged door to open side after baking?)

......(see more possibilities discussed above, in Boxes > "Removable Forms")

faux puffy shapes made with tissues, or clay, inside 2 clay sheets .....(vbffl had an idea which could be adapted to polymer clay:)
... she had created a reindeer and snowman by sewing togehter two sheets of paper bag (stuffed with paper for puffiness)
... she embellished with a painted face, twigs or greenery, buttons, etc.... one had candy canes for horns
...for clay, these could instead be made with two sheets of brownish clay (or white for a snowman, etc.), embellished, then sandwiched with some clay or
even a bit of tissue inside, etc. ... edges could then be crimped or faux "stitched" with tracing wheel indentations.
......could be made small for pins or larger for ornaments... could use cookie cutters or free draw the shapes
...or the forms could be made puffy by blowing into them as with pillow beads (see Beads > Pillow)

I have made a few bowls from the homemade (newspaper) type of papier mache ...when finished and fully dry, they are rock solid, have no bubbles, and can be handled like a soft wood (sanded, and thicker pieces can even be sawn)
...I use a white or yellow carpenter's glue thinned a bit with water, to seal the surface
...I speed up the drying by putting them in a low temp [150 F] oven for as long as needed. . . .
...once dry, I sand it smooth.
(these steps can be repeated until I'm satisfied with the surface)...a last coat seals any spot where sanding may have gone thru to the actual paper layers. Ke
. . . Build your (head) over a hollow papier mache form, but do NOT use the flour based paste as it will bubble in the oven. Instead, use strips of paper soaked in gesso . ... apply strips over a balloon, letting each layer dry before the next layer is applied. ....I've built several masks in this fashion, using a gesso based papier mache covered with polymer clay (usually Super Sculpy). Katherine Dewey

I've done the same sort of thing as "vinegar eggs" with hollow paperclay balls, then soaked the balls in water to remove the paper clay make the polymer clay stick to the paperclay, I used a glue stick here and there on the design. Katherine Dewey

Jeffrey Dever's hollow forms (large and mini) using layering and multiple bakings, with the help of found, altered, and custom built forms, some cardboard (not removed?)

"pinch pots" ...or "balloon vessels" , etc.
(to make pots, vases, etc.)

cupping and using convex tool method:
...for my pumpkins, I took well conditioned clay and rolled it into a smooth ball the size of a grape
....... then I cupped the clay in the palm of my hand while expanding the center with a special ball-end tool, but the rounded back of a melon baller would also work I think....starting off with a ball is what kept it so smooth I think.
...I cut the tops off with an exacto knife while they were still warm (careful not to squeeze too much while cutting tho, I crushed one :)
(...the face I carved after they were cool with my rotary drill (like a small dremel.) Ronda

piercing and rolling a ball method:
...Sue Heaser has a lesson on making a tiny pot with successively larger diameter needles or paintbrush handles
..... she also periodically upends the pot on the work surface and presses it down to flatten the rim.
...(Byrd's )....condition Premo so it is really soft.... then make a ball about an inch across.
.........using a rounded-end dowel, poke a hole in it.
.........then rock the dowel inside, keeping the opening small but pushing the sides and bottom til they get's possible to get rather even walls this way
........then close the top... shape and decorate ......( I agree that after closing, it is a good idea to let it sit for a while)

cupping and pinching & pulling method (Donna Kato's "balloon" method) to create a vessel (lesson):
...using enough clay for the rounded part of a vessel, roll a ball then flatten it into a pad. Make this into a hollow ball shape by: --pressing the top to thin it-- cradling it in both hands, and pressing inward on the whole piece to keep closing it in, esp. top area. Repeat until the top of the ball begins to rise up (sort of like an onion dome). Close the top completely in, being careful to trap as much air inside as possible.* Shave off as much of the top as desired, then press the excess down so that it's flat on top, and smooth with fingers. She added a dripped diluent-and-clay glaze from the opening partly down the sides. *At this point it might be possible to vary the vessel shape? Diane B.

Eliz's lesson on making these ....(she calls these "bubble vessels" becaus they were made to hold bubble solution)
... also her examples of tiny vase-like bottles, with & without stoppers (be sure to click on second page!)
Tracy's (very well shaped) pinch pot (website gone) DB: find more

(lesson) ...I've made quite a few bubble bottles now and worked out the problems I saw with the first ones.
....I pick up a round, flat pad of clay in my hands (thumbs and index fingers)
... start pleating the edges by shoving my hands together (,,,I go around about twice until it starts forming a bowl)
....then I use a Gelli pen (one of the best tools I have found... they have a wide, flatly rounded top) and thin out the bottom and get rid of humps.
....then I pleat a little more until the bowl is deeper.
....close the bottle ... roll into a round shape
....then open it up again and get my Gelli pen in there to get rid of the extra clay by pushing it into the walls.
....I thin the walls and bottom if they need it, then close the bottle, roll it round shape, and put it aside to cool
.....then I open the bottle up a little bit and go inside there with a medium sized paintbrush end and clean it up mainly at the top a bit if needed
.....close it again and make sure it is round,then shape it.
.....then I open it again and make the neck.
..You will know you have gotten the walls too thin in an area if the ball feels smooshy on one side... when it happens, it will be quite obvious.
.....(I didn't like the heaviness of the first worry bottle I made so that's why I use the Gelli pen to smoosh the creases of clay left inside when you close the ball into the walls and thin the walls down.KathyG

I found when I was making the vessels, I followed Donna's way at first, but then decided to try a few things! I can tell you that I get better results when I start with a round ball, then use a brayer to make it into a very thick circle! I would say it was from a 1/4 to 1/2 an inch thick depending on how much clay I'm using and how big the vessel is going to be. …I then start at the outside of the circle and start gentlLEIGH coaxing the edges to curl up and turn back in on itself so that the vessel starts to form a ball! This way the thickness of the walls tends to stay more equal!
Also premo is really great for this, you get it really well conditioned, then flaten it out and start curling it up! You get the clay moved and catch the bubble, then you let the clay sit for about 10 min. and it's MUCH firmer to shape!! It's great!!!! Sincereleigh

I had trouble getting the top of the balloon to work too. Unfortunately, Dona's video doesn't give explicit enough info on how to do it either. After several attempts, I figured it out. It's hard to explain in written form, but I'll try:
....The trick is after you have formed the cup, or bowl, and you are ready to "raise" the sides, go all the way around the bowl you've formed well below the rim, pinching the clay thinner as you go (but not too thin). You want to keep the bulk of the clay at the top of the bowl so you have sufficient material to form the walls.
...After you go completely around the bowl as described above, the rim will have deformed outwards ... so cup the whole piece of clay in your hands, and then turn it in your hands, forming and pushing the rim of the clay bowl with the curve your your index fingers until you've reduced the diameter of the rim back that of the walls. You want the clay bowl to be tight and compact so you can repeat the process and continue raising the walls.
....The key is to keep the rim much thicker than the walls. This will make it much easier to form/push inwards the clay to create the thin neck of the vessel without having it cave in on you. Always keep turning the vessel when do thi! .
...One way to "cheat" when forming the top is to use a clay shaper or end of a paint brush to help support and form the neck from the inside. You can then pinch the neck closed ....this creates another problem or two, but it will result in a clay "balloon". Barbara

for my hollow pumpkin, I took well conditioned clay and rolled it into a smooth ball the size of a grape .... then I cupped the clay in the palm of my hand while expanding the center with a special ball-end tool, but the rounded back of a melon baller would also work I think....starting off with a ball is what kept it so smooth I think ... (I then pressed and pulled them into a hollow ball shape (like Donna Kato's "balloon" method in Vessels > Hollow), closed the sphere, and baked..... I cut the tops off with an exacto knife while they were still warm (careful not to squeeze too much while cutting tho, I crushed one :) ...then I carved the features after they were cool with my rotary drill (like a small Dremel). Ronda

Other Techniques (for hollow or partly hollow forms)

Pier Voulkos also created large, airfilled forms, by blowing into them when raw
... she was at first using Premo only (translucent & tints) as it is the most flexible (stretchable) clay --she now feels that Fimo, or Fimo with Premo, work more easily.
...the form was closed by connecting a various sheets sahpes together by pressing their edges together into outie, protruding seams (on the outside of the form), leaving a small seam area open (can create impression or onlays, first?)
... then blowing into the form to expand it somewhat, and closing the seam ...(put into a hot oven) ...the heat from baking swelled them more ....... (gone)
Pier's hollow (blown) forms & Trina's attempts (website gone)
...(see similar techniques with beads of various shapes in Beads > Hollow > Pillow...starting with disks,
long ovals, long rectangles, and diamonds)

coiled pot or vase
... the earth clay method of coiling a long rope of clay up into a bowl or vase shape is fun
...the ropey sides are then thinned with fingers and thumbs (maybe also thinning and pulling it taller and narrower at the top, or changing the shape)?
....when he was little, my son liked to make plain coil pots without smoothing and thinning them, and those looked pretty cool with just a bit of Pearl Ex highligting on the exterior... sometimes he also added a little molded shape as an accent, or embellished the top, or gave the pot a base, etc. Diane B
...the pot could also have enough more raw clay added after baking, to change the overall shape of the vessel too ..bake again.
...Jenny's small pot-basket made mostly from thick ropes (over a removable form probably... 3 rows of ropes at top... the S-wave of rope with a thick flower cutout filling each open space in S... another rope... another S + flowers... 2 rope rows + few more rope rows smaller so bottom angles inward

various types of vases, and other vessels, by Felicia

Marie S's ceramic vase with adhered embellishments of polymer clay

Vesta's very small pot vases, with small openings (could be created in several ways)... heavily stamped and Pearl Ex'd

hollow forms can also be created with broken-out glass bulbs and ball ornaments, and dissolved-out eggshells..
...for those, see Covering > Glass > Balls and Bulbs ....and also Eggs > Vinegar

polystyrene foams (Styrofoam, packing foam, etc.) can also be used to create some pots, etc., because they will shrink
....can be removed from baked clay items if left partly exposed, or left in
....for more details (plus discussion of shrinking or melting rates and fumes) see Covering > Plastics > #6 Polystyrene

LIDS & FEET (boxes or bowls)

(also see above)


I've made a few boxes, each having lids that fit to varying degrees. The one that fit best for me was one that went on top of the box while still hot. As they cooled, they fit together better than the previous ones. Kim K.

releases, resists
....Kato Repel Gel is a thick, paintable, water soluble polymer clay medium which prevents polymer clay from adhering to itself while curing (baked or raw) can be used for clay to clay contact during baking when removability is desired... it works well for making lids because they can be formed on the vessel and still removed after baking (creating a tight fit also)'
s now available in some places
see above in Removable Forms > Releases for most info on keeping two areas of clay from adhering to each other using various materials and techniques .... and see more re superglue solvents like Repel Gel in Glues > Superglue Solvents)

I want to make some (brass lined) incense burners with dome lids and I would like to have decorative holes in the lid with the tiny cutters.

I like to make lids with medallions glued onto them. Karen C.
...molded polymer medallions of any kind can add dimension and sophistication to a plain lid

For lots of ways to make your own templates or stencils to use for cutting lids and other onlays (especially non-square ones), see Vessels--Rock > Lids

You can create domed tops and bottoms by inserting domed shapes (armatures) between the inside and outside layers that will become the lid and the bottom.

fancy stoppers for bottles on top of corks
(most info on stoppers is in BOH > Stoppers)

canejane's large, textured/powdered lids, for jars

Bunny's interesting lids for boxes
Pat S's non-rectangular tops, and interesting boxes with feet
Dianne C's various boxes with extending lids (based on Tory's?)
Irene Dean's extending lids (faux ivory, mixed media)
Gerri's boxes with extending stacked lids; faux ivory, etc.
Some boxes have much larger tops than bottoms: (Sara J's)
Cynthia B's people-bowls. . .above waist area is lid, below waist is bottom of bowl
Dianne C's figures, etc., on top of her lids (the boxes beneath are actually music boxes)
Byrd's very long tiny ropes on box ("gorkley") ...partly extending from surface to surround the ball used as lid handle

various lids on vessels...... especially Paulette's draped sheet with snowman on top as lid
nenuphar's flat disk lid with onlays, for covered votive (add my catfood can lids?)

Heather's covered votive, with lid website gone)

Waterbaby's interesting boxes, lids, and handles (website gone)
Annie's rope spiral lid with charms, etc. (website gone)
Cindy P's dome lid (on reversed-dome bowl) created by inserting domed shape between the inside and outside layers of the lid

There are countless ways to make a lid and the choice is all yours!
It can be like a those of a traditional (cardboard) box where the lid comes over the edges of the box,
or the lid can be set inside, on a lip attached near the top of the box bottom
(or the lid can be larger than the top, with an inner layer which acts as a stop ...or several small stops)
or it can be hinged using either tiny brass hinges or make your own with wire or Tyvek or fabric. Patty B.

I was just going to suggest doing an interior base first, and then covering it with an embellishment layer, leaving a "lip" (strip of the interior) exposed (to hold the bottom. Joanie (see Joanie's Polyzine lesson on this in Vessels-Rock > Larger Rocks)
...Gwen's inro with exposed lip (same idea?)... where the base layer and the decorative layer are cut at different heights (base layer cut higher than the decorative one...base layer scored and baked first before cutting, then decorative layer)

I did a rock vessel and used Sculpey III as the base layer (for stiffness) and then added Kato clay on top, cured it, cut it off (the rock) and then added the lip (strip?) to keep the lid on the bottom. Kathy W.

"stops" for the undersides of the lids
...Polymerclayexpress' lesson on extending lids with stops (for the tops, be sure to make two layers ... one that fits inside the container, and the other one wider (the lid) ....stack together)
. . .. . . I usually make the top after the box is made and cured (after the box walls have been built around a form) - I just press the opening of the box lightly onto a sheet of clay so that it will leave an imprint and I cut just inside this imprint - this makes a flange so that the lid will sit on the box. Then I adhere the flange to another sheet of clay and trim the lower sheet to the size that I want the finished lid to be - allowing a tiny bit extra for sanding and buffing. Elizabeth
.... I usually create the lid after the initial box is baked, this way I insure a good fit. ... I do add a 'lip' of clay by getting the indent of the interior of the box (on a clay sheet), then using a strip of clay to outline the line that was created. It creates a snug fit to the lid on the box. Wanda
... Pat's lesson on making a lid with a clay rope on the interior side of the lid to act as a stop
..... Joanie's shell stops inside lid top (website gone)

(lesson): the baked box on a the thickest pasta machine sheet of clay ....trace around the box edge... remove box
...cut out the lid about 1/8" larger than the line you traced (providing a lip for the outer edges of the lid to be attached to)
...cut strips of clay for the edges (which will go on the extra 1/8") cover the top edge of the box with either a single layer of aluminum foil or a heavy layer of cornstarch (both on the outside and inside)
...(turn the box upside down and place on the raw lid)
...attach the side pieces to the lid (in the same manner you did the sides of the box), adding a tiny amount of TLS and blending the joins well
...bake again for the full time and temperature with the bottom of the box still in place
...when cool, remove the lid, sand smooth the edges of both lid and box...finish any way you like. Patty B.

Whenever I've tried to use cardboard to bake them on ... it warped- also I noticed a distinct odor... and was told it's formadehyde! And should be avoided. So I bake on matt board... scraps from framing pictures. There's no odor... and less warping. . . . I use any side of the matt board...color or back, and haven't noticed any warping. I have a few sheets that are especially thick and I use them especially when I'm concerned about warping. I've bought scaps of matt board from Aaron Bros. or other art stores...sometimes a framer will let you have them free.
I tried a half dozen matt board scraps, some colored, some not, and I felt they all warped. I haven't pursued that any further because I haven't had the need. Irene

I've always used index cards. . . I have a couple of layers of them built up in the baking tray, but I've baked directly on the cards with no problem either. If you want good matt boards, buy Crescent - it's archival, acid-free. I used to buy them by the hundreds for my work. Syndee

Several ways to prevent curling of thin flat clay when baking. One is to place something heavy on top of the piece while baking. However, if the weight will harm the surface technique, then wait until the pieces comes out of the oven and while it is still somewhat hot, place heavy books on top of it until cool. . . . Or, while it is still hot but not so much so that you can't handle it, fill the sink with cold water and then lay the piece down on the bottom of the sink and hold it flat until it is cool. Dotty in CA

Jody B's roll-top box lid flap (her box had tall rounded sides for it to curve over) . . .it worked a bit like a roll top desk. I baked the clay strips and then baked them onto a fabric backing coated with Liquid Sculpey. Jody
... I usually start with around 3 or 4 clay run thru the pm. Then put your fabric on top of the clay sheet. I take my hand, or an acrylic roller and run over the fabric a couple of times. Then take that and put it thru on the same setting. This will put the clay right into the weave! . . . You can then cut it with scissors and place inside your box. Then bake like you usually do. . . . Remember, if you're using a dark fabric, use dark clay. Light fabric - light clay. Karen that the finished baked piece is able to move. This is a great technique which can be used for a lot of other things such as earrings, bracelets, etc. as well. DottyinCA (a download of the lesson can be ordered on this page too)
....more of Jody's flaps (for purses)
...could also be used for making scales (see Sculpting-bodies > Scales for more)

Celie Fago's threaded closure (screw on) for small needle case (molded from something else threaded?)... 3 layers of clay visible from open case bottom: exterior decorative layer & two taller layers (outer one is threaded)... interior of cap is threaded also

'toolmaker's surface gauge' can be used to measure (or scribe) a line at an exact height (all the way around or across something).
.....Jeff Deaver makes these amazing lidded can use this to mark the line where you are going to cut the lid. vrjames
.....marks a perfectly straight and parallel line at the exact height required. ...measures and marks any height from 0 -10" inches. (enter 60520 in the Item Number window)

Use a lid from a container you've finished with, and create a box to go under it . . .(any type of material) . . . Diane B.

Big christmas lightbulbs make GREAT "tops" for lightbulb bottles, by the way.

Most of the time (for bubble wand bottles), I bake a plug of clay in the neck of the bottle and turn that into the stopper. It can be a bit tricky to get the fit right, and I seal them with TLS. The wand is glued in last. If I were doing one now, I'd use a cork. It would be easier. Probably a good idea to bake the cork first in case it shrinks or expands. Jody


Boxes and bowls with feet (and/or handles) seem to have more "importance" (I think that was the term they used, anyhow). Irene
......the legs or feet echo the strong color of the lid on your piece and help to balance the "weight" of it. .. Karen NC
--Add feet to the bottom (the simplest would be 3-4 balls pressed onto the bottom --make sure it's level when turned over... stacks of flattened balls could be used as well, or balls could be interspersed with other bits
--get creative for feet . . . use wood beads, granite or other faux beads or shapes, etc.. . .dowels or "turned" polymer, carved/stamped hunks, etc. . . .
.....Doreen even suggested using flat-back glass pebbles... pieces of silverware...
.....what about metal, crystal, or pearl beads stacked together (on a head pin), or interspersed with other beads
Cindy P's various feet for her bowls and boxes
...Gerri's faux ivory and jade boxes, with cylindrical or ball feet, similar to Emi's ivory box
James Lehman's various bowls with feet or legs (click on each photo for more)
Tory Hughes bowl with real feet
Cheryl's boxes with simplified animal feet or scroll feet
pcbysusan's large-triangular-cane slices as 4 feet (each almost as wide as each side of the square box), each pressed into a clay ball, etc., for more stabilitiy
Keith B's wondeful bowl with feet of standing thick spiral slices
Lara's cane slice bowls with tall angled legs (each bowl has 2-3 different legs)
...e.g., a tapered log spiraled at one end as a foot ...a tapered log twisted
(more feet can be found by doing a ctrl + f search on this page for the word feet or legs)


Re the inside ... I had good success with sponging with the Luminiere paints. I just cut tiny pieces of a plain old kitchen foam sponge, wet it and wrung it out well and then did a 3-layer sponge treatment over a solid. Mary

How hard it is to get the inside of a box sanded and buffed adequately? Instead of making yourself crazy with all that, just brush a coat of Colored Liquid Sculpey inside the box and cure it - so far, I've only used black for this purpose, but the CLS leaves a beautiful matte black finish inside that was a perfect complement to the ultra high gloss buffed black exteriors of the boxes. The black CLS is a very dense, velvety black when cured, the silver is even prettier and more translucent than the Premo silver clay and the gold CLS matches the gold Premo just perfectly - a very rich gold! ... available in a set of three 8oz bottles: Laurel

Use metallic leaf or flakes of leaf...

(see just above for faux vinyl as well)

What I am going to do next time is....layer the sides of the box...say white outside and black inside and treat it as one, so that when it is baked the two colors are adhered and no interior painting (or other treatment) should be needed. Jacki
.... she wants to do this over a papier box armature, but could work for freestanding boxes or other armatures as well

If it is a wood box, i would find some wounderful handade paper and decoupage that on the inside, I would find something that matches one of the colors or textuers on the outside... Denita

Do you have some matching fabric, or a fabric that matches one of the colors? You could hot glue the top edge and let the fabric fall inside. I'm thinking of doing this with some of my boxes. That or flocking. . . christy

flocking can be purchased at Michaels and other places...
...Soft Flock, by Plaid .(no longer available?) .a two-part system where you paint on a colored adhesive and then using the squeeze bottle provided, "puff" in the short fibers into the adhesive (e.g. there is a black adhesive and black fibers). It is quite simple and you can recover any fibers that didn't stick and pour them back into the container. I've gotten gold, black and green and it comes in other colors, too. Patty B.
..the stuff I use is called Suede-Tex and can be purchased at Ed D. (...paint on a special under-coat of adhesive, then spray on the Suede-Tex fibers. (with the Mini Flocker?)...specially prepared rayon, dyed in rich, fade-resistant colors and cut to a uniform 1/32" length....finished surface will be lustrous, evenly napped and soft to the touch)
...PX Series Perma-Flex Flock Adhesive Ink should also work...a solvent-based enamel screen ink formulated for printing on textile materials where flocking is required. Also performs well for applications not requiring flock. Use on cotton, cotton/polyester blend and some synthetic textiles... buy at silk screen supply places or online... e.g

Maybe line it with fabric like a velvet, and add an elegant trim.. Ronnie

...something really fitting for this beauty on the getting some russet coloured watered silk looking fabric.... ironing it to something more substantial like felt with double sided sticky stuff and then gluing the felt inside the box showing off a beautiful inside to match the outer glory. Fiddly I guess.....but deserving. Tania

If you run a sheet of clay through the pasta machine then lay a piece of fabric on the clay sheet, run it through the pasta machine again, the clay meshes with the fabric. This gives you a flexible piece of clay with a fabric side to layer boxes (inside or outside) . . . (the edge sides of two fabric-covered clay sheets bond when you butt them together) . . . if the fabric has really tight weave, it might not work as easily. I've used cotton, polyester (stretches which could be really interesting if you used that as part of your design), home spun, etc. As long as the clay can get into the weave, it'll work...Velveteen is really bad. and it has all those little specks of fabric floating around. But works great for lining the inside of a box.. . I'm working on fabric and clay boxes so I hope to put them on my gallery page soon. . . . lesson:
--Take a papier mache box and cover with glue (sobo or weldbond).
--Run a sheet of clay thru the second to thinnest setting of the pasta machine, and layer onto the box.
--Then run a sheet of clay through the pasta machine, measure the fabric you need to cover the box inside, lay it down on the clay.
--Run the combo thru the pasta machine. The clay will interweave with the fabric fibers.
--Cut the clay-backed fabric to size and layer (lay it onto?) the box; I cut out the bottom of the box so that I can get a large dowel rod (1-1/2") to roll the clay backed fabric onto the inside better.
-- Cover the bottom and put it together.
--Then you can either cover the outside the same way or just with clay. Karen R.

I've used those thin wood veneer boxes and after covering the outside with clay, I've cut two pieces of felt --an oval shape to fit the bottom and a strip for the inside of the box, then soaked them in liquid clay. I used my finger to thickly smooth TLS onto the surface of the felt, then pressed slightly to the walls of the box so I could just feel the TLS squishing through the felt. The felt can match or contrast the clay on the outside.
I've even used a twisted (rope) of clay to cover the inside (edge) all around the inside of the box to finish it nicely. Marcella
...or just glue the felt in afterwards with Gem Tac, etc.

(for more on bonding fabric to clay or liquid clay, see Mixing Media > Fabric)

sheets of pattern made from acrylic paint or liquid clay or white tacky glue (colored) can be used to cover or line boxes . . .,,hgtv_3289_1376364,00.html
... for these possibilities and more, see Paints > Acrylic > More Uses


...You can buy hinges and glue or embed them.
...Or you can make your own hinges from clay or other materials.

TUBE hinges (make your own):
....use metal tubes or tube "bead" findings. . . or use long skinny pipe beads drilled lengthwise... (or clay tubes)
......Then use a piece of wire as the hinge pin. I have tried this, and it works pretty well.
.......BTW, is a gold mine for tips, techniques, and ideas for jewelery and related crafts.
... excellent discussion of how to make hinges in the "Tips from the jeweler's bench" section
...Robin Beaty's mini-books and pendants with hinges (...notice especially orange-and-brownish book with tubes and wire hinge at top... every other tube segment is attached permanently to the top or the bottom bookcover
......tubes are continuous across the entire hinged area, and one wire runs through them all with a loop at each end acting as a "stop" and also for attaching other things)
...Dayle's coffin-shaped box with individual tube & wire hinges (3 tubes each)...(rather than continuous)
....... each hinge has 2 tubes connected to one side and 1 tube connected to the other side ... a wire is used through each set of 3 tubes, and hers is coiled into a spiral shape out past the last tube to act as a stop.... (she actually has 4 hinges on this piece)
(KimK's "belt" of Celtic tiles also has hinges to hold them together (2 tubes attached to one side of each tile, one center tube attached to other side, which interlock... she used wire threaded to hold tiles together ) slip through the tubes ("pin," cording), you could of course use other things besides wire or headpins, etc.,

Judy D's hinge door-lid on an "peach" shaped box... two tube shapes are formed in the box body and one tube is formed at the center bottom of the door... a wire attached into one side of the door passes through all 3 tubes and back into the door ...(door is on an upper side of the shape)

sunni's lesson on making tiny individual hinges from wire; one half shaped like (double) eye part of hook-and-eye clasp with a coil in the middle, (this first hinge uses two of these shapes, with a double-ended spiral threaded through to hold them together)
....similar wire hinges, but here her second half is the same as the first half , but without the coil (which is threaded through first half before last loop formed) (several in first few rows of photos)

Tory Hughes has a video on Making Hinges, Hinges in Polymer Clay, in which she covers 3 types of hinging:
(1. hinge on the side of a pendant or frame ... 2. hinge two parts of a pendant together .... 3. hinge within a pendant creating a swinging part)
...she mainly uses the "door hinge" type of hinge, in which a pin of some kind is run through tubes of clay which are attached to each side (usually two tubes on one side, one on the other side) ... she creates the hinge tubes in place for an exact fit... ; these can be bent or finished with a bead, etc. on each end to keep them in place
....she also shows a method of running a pin/wire through one clay tube (attached to one piece of pendant), then bending the ends 90 degrees and supergluing into the non-tube clay piece. (near bottom of page)

Jaqueline Gikow's new book (Polymer Clay: Creating Functional and Decorative Objects) covers the subject of hinges beautifully! Valerie

Celie's fancy hinges on pendants (one is a 2-part swing hinge)

....for more info on various techniques for hinges and types of hinged items-- including jewelry, frames, and books--
see Pendants-Cording > Hinges & Lockets & pivots hinges... + Books > Hinges... + Frames > Tri-Fold Panels

flexible hinges can be made with fabric soaked with liquid clay .....or fabric embedded with regular clay (usually translucent)
..........for the kinds of fabric that work best, etc., & lessons, see Mixing Media > Fabric
....these could be used for vessels of all kinds
....... see Jody's segmented roll-top 'hinge lid" above in Lids, made with slats of clay on a liquid clay-soaked fabric
....(or they could be used for bracelets or purses... or any objects where you want to have articulated pieces such as jewelry, ornaments, figures)
... can use a heat gun to cure if needed, rather than baking in an oven
... Kato liquid clay bakes up with a shiny surface! No need to sand and buff, although it's not the same kind of shine get with sanding and buffing, but still quite good looking. Dotty

For cardboard and papier mache vessels, etc, just using packing tape (brown, on a roll) works wonders as a bond or hinge ...I use it for cardstock armatures too. Sarajane

Lots of different styles of mini (real) hinges are available in miniature shops and on the internet from some of the miniature stores & catalogs... here are 2:
...Hobby Builders Supplies (mostly 1/12 scale but some 1/2" scale and 1/4" scale)
...Oakridge (lots of 1/2" and 1/4" scale stuff... even metal wheels to put on your eggs). Sammy
For good, small hinges and box clasps in a variety of styles, try Katherine Dewey

every kind of regular hinge (Lee Valley Hdw)

I order my ring hinges only at Lee Valley or Smithshop on the net. I think Shopsmith is a bit cheaper but can't remember offhand)
(The little heart and egg hinged boxes I get at Oriental Trading Co). Jan R.

.....I found the ring hinge at (go to Findings, pg. 3), a great source for eggs, hinges, clasps and findings of all sorts. The ring of "L" shaped metal is hinged and has a clasp, normally used to trim (and cover) the cut edges of an egg. They carry oval rings as well, and smaller ring sets that aren't hinged. The one I used is on page 3 of findings and supplies. Katherine Dewey

I used the round box type clasp from an old string of thrift shop pearls. It had a domed"pearl" on top which I removed and replaced with faux turquoise. Then I embedded it in the wall of the bead and added more decorations to cover it. I used tiny doll house nails through the loops where the bead strands had been fastened, to secure it inthe clay. It was a bit tricky this first time but I'm sure the next one would be easier. You can use the same techniques metalsmiths use to make hinges from scratch, but with polyclay instead of metal.

CREATIVE & unusual VESSEL ideas

Vessels can also be:
...a ship or boat
...a container, canister, metal box, can, receptacle; pot; bottle, jug, decanter, carafe, flagon, pitcher; bowl, tankard, stein, mug, beaker, cup, glass, tumbler, goblet, chalice; barrel, keg, cask, hogshead; pail, bucket, tub, vat, cauldron, kettle, boiler, etc. .. . . vase, urn, lachrymatory (holder for tears)

* Challenge yourself to think of different kinds of boxes:
hat boxes, egg cartons, tool boxes, puzzle boxes, hidden compartments, jack-in-the-box, sculpture as boxes, multi-purpose boxes...
*Transformation - when things are not what they seem: jewelry boxes or boxes AS jewelry, sewing boxes or boxes that are sewn, sculpture as a box or a box as sculpture....

* Dare yourself to discover shapes . . . .must a box be a cube? What else could it be? . . . .If still a cube, how could it be different?
...(uneven top/sides/bottom--see Ai-Ping's boxes, poof box, pyramidal, equilateral, tube . . . .)

Margi Laurin's odd-shaped boxes, rectangular vases, etc.

You could also carve designs and back fill ...cut holes for potpourri ... add embellishments such as flowers, crystals-etc.
....make it tiny and use it as an amulet
.....or larger as a trinket box .... or even larger using craft mesh as an interior support as part of a unique desk set.
....I've made them look like marquetry, jade, cinnabar, lapis, and leather even with leather lacing. Patty B.

* Brigitte's box-book . . .clay box with sheets of embellished polymer stacked loosely inside... all kinds of collage and

"face" boxes (in this case, Frankenstein, Dracula, etc.)... papier mache boxes of various shapes, with face as box top (painted, but could be clay covered)

Faye's elephant boxes ... bottom of "box" is elephant body with head on front
... one elephant box has a dome-shaped lid which completes the figure..the smaller one is left without a lid (more like an open bowl-body on legs)

egg boxes

use unusual items for the feet or handles, etc., of a box (like silverware)

open-on-one-side display box, with asparagus ...Lindly's sort-of diorama/sculpture

Christi Friesen's various bas relief scenes on the outside of her vessels (jungle, ocean, etc. scenes)

Try making "windows" in your box (they don't even have to be square) of the thinner translucent, but make the "window frames" thick to give it strength
Leslie Blackford's photo transferred onto translucent clay which is mounted in the front face of a polymer clay box, then lit from inside

cforiginal's boxes/ vases over glass forms... with heavy onlay (...often sculpted animals perched on or emerging from or crawling around the vessel... she also embellishes with stone beads, glass, fossils, shell, metals

shadow boxes (these aren't polymer, but could be adapted ...for one, frames are also cut into the top in addition to the dividers in the box bottom (mini shadow boxes technique)

hourglass timer ... create two vessels or pinch pots, to bond together one atop the other ... make the hole between them small enough to let sand only trickle through .... then put in enough sand for the amount of time you want to measure ....could use for games, making eggs, or make novelty ones for gag gifts --"takes this long to do X")... or cover or partlly cover to glass items in the same way

Garie Sim's whimsical test tube flower vases ("stands")... long & large glass test tubes are made freestanding with bases comprised of figures (actually parts of figures!), stuffed chair, etc.

Art without Borders boxes (created by children to express their hopes and dreams --non-polymer, but inspirational)
(keep clicking on NEXT)



I've made quite a lot of clocks in various ways. The easiest way, I find, is to roll out a sheet of clay and cover the back of a foil-covered oven-proof plate with it. Fairly thick - about 1/8 inch at least to give it strength if the plate is 6 inches across, thicker if the plate (and the clock you want) is bigger. You can then decorate in soooooo many ways - I have done a sculpted underwater scene, a celtic spiral bronze, porcelain flowers, mosaics (of course!) and more... You need to make a hole in the centre of the clay for the spindle of the clock works to project through. After decorating, bake for a good long time, then remove from the plate.

It does not matter if your clay thickness does not match the spindle on the clock works, you can build it up with layers of clay or cardboard, or thin it down with carving after it is baked. You then assemble the clock, pushing the spindle through the hole, screwing the fitting down to hold the clock face in place on the clock works and then fixing on the hands.

The clock works that you buy usually have a hanging thing on the top and you can use this to hang the clock on the wall. If you want to make a free-standing clock, you need to build up a 3D form of clay first for the clockworks to live in, then decorate.

Sue Heaser (clock) : this method is in my Techniques book as a project. You can make a wonderful clock face just rolling out some clay and draping it over an upturned saucer. Cut round the outside and make a hole in the centre for the clock spindle. Decorate as you wish and then bake, still on the saucer. Remove the saucer when cool and insert the clock works spindle through the hole. Screw on the fitting to clamp it to the clay and attach the hands. The clock works sit neatly in the concave back and the hands are free to sweep round the face as it is domed. You can hang the clock on the wall as there is a loop provided on the clock works back.

Wireform - the mesh you can buy to use with polyclay - is another way of making a wonderful clock base before decorating with clay. The mesh can be formed into all sorts of weird shapes - who says a clock has to be round or whatever! I love assymetrical clocks... Sue Heaser

(for clock WEBSITES and more on clocks, please go to Covering/Clocks & CD Roms)


Polymer Clay : Creating Functional and Decorative Objects, by Jacqueline Gikow, May 2001. . . in-depth techniques for making pinch pots, bowls, coiled containers, and crocheted objects. Chapters on covering existing containers, mold-making for vessels, free-form vessels, and constructed containers each include projects that reinforce the principles explored. . .Covers a wide array of techniques and creative approaches - Features pieces by some well-known polymer clay artists...editorial review at

The Art of Polymer Clay : Designs and Techniques for Making Jewelry, Pottery and Decorative Artwork (1997) by Donna Kato - a more project-oriented book with excellent photos and instructions. Chapters are Polymer Clay Basics, Millefiori: Making Canes and Loaves, Surface Treatments, Making and Using Molds, Imitative Techniques, Vessels, Floral Forms, and Figurines and Sculpture. The flowers she has both in the book and on the cover are amazing. Julia Sober

Exploring Liquid Sculpey: Jody Bishel (Mindstorm video)
Thanks, Jody. I owe it all to you. The tutorial (on your video for how to make a vessel by covering-then-breaking-out a light bulb) is very clear and easy to follow... I also have a couple of 4 and 5 inch round ones that I am going to tackle as soon as I get up the nerve. I don't have any of the flood lights however. You do marvelous things with those. Marlene (Marlene's vessels
Jody's vessels, including chalice type This topic-only (mailing list group) is for people interested in creating and/or decorating small (no dimension greater than 6") books and boxes. All related topics up for discussion, such as rubber stamping, embellishing, collage, calligraphy, journaling, polymer clay, the list goes on. Anything that can be used to make or decorate a book or box is fair game but, please, no chitchat. Swaps are encouraged and there will be a ongoing virtual swap.

I'm glad to hear that someone else uses ceramics books for the same reasons I do. I especially love one I have called "Handbuilt Ceramics." Tons of ideas and inspiration. DottyinCA

To really expand your box making skills, get Tim McCreight's book, "The Metalsmith's Book of Boxes & Lockets". Although it is for metal, many of the techniques can be used with polymer clay. Patty B.



*Lynelle’s little bottles, round lidded box swap (some explanation)
*Elisabeth's fabulous bowls, boxes, vases, votives, some with feet
(website gone)
*all kinds of vessels from the 1997 Vessel Swap

teeny tiny vessels of various types (MDPAG swap)
various types of vessels from swap at Arizona guild

Claire's vessels, some with stoppers, and covered vessels (website gone)
Christine Brasher's bottles, with tops
Valerie's organic, lidded vessels
*Cindy’s woven vessels (one over a cylinder)—& other boxes/bottles (many with leaves) (gone)
Tamara's woven vessels (gone) (click on door>Gallery>Objects d'Art)
*NPCG Karyn Kozak: covered bottles (caning)

*many covered tiny medical bottles --Bottles of Hope (gifts to breast cancer patients)
.....and see many more at

Rhea's small bottles (gone?)
Cindy's 3 covered bottles w corks (part of a swap)

Vince's Polymer Clay Night Lights
sincereleigh, goblets & candles
Omodt -- vases, bottles?, candle holders (click on bottle)
Grant Diffendaffer's differently-shaped, textured bottles, vessels
Tayrne's Surreal sculptures,masks,vessels (gone)
Kathndoll’s extruded roped vessels (and chains) (website gone)


**Reinventing the Box: MANY examples of vessels from The Rave (origami too)
*Marie Segals complex onlays, some boxes
Stan P's many boxes
various boxes & tins (freestanding, covered, etc.) from PCC swap
Gera's boxes
Klee’s covered, leaf & other boxes
Babette's elegant box with large ball feet

Annie's powdered, stamped, onlaid boxes

square, oval and triangular small boxes with lids (patterns look like animal skins)

*many awesome small boxes, many with lids and other extruding bits (most or all Jo's?) (website gone)
Klew’s tiny box, molded face, beads, etc.
Maureen's tiny treasure box
Elizabeth's tiny boxes with lids
Dorothy G's tiny cake vessels with lids

Pax's boxes (hidden openings)
Bunny's interesting boxes

Julie Downing's slab? boxes (one tall as for vase) (gone!)
Heather R's boxes
Irene Y's bargello, etc., boxes with lids

Kathy's shaped boxes (website gone)
Pier's box veneers, one with inlaid contrasting mica patterns

Pier's veneered boxes (more details in Covering/Wood/Veneers)
Rachel A's many filigree boxes (interiors, twisted ropes, granite, roses) (see them all, click on Next, Next...)

Desiree's double-walled slab box with Invent It monochrome tattoos on the sides, and gradient layer lid
Lisa Pavelka's art purses
Cindy P's boxes with overlapping leaf slices

M. Redi's dragonskin bowls... made with many individual leaf-shaped slices (overlapped, but left dimensional)

DVD by Donna Kato includes making a box
...Tips Tricks and Techniques in Polymer Clay (double DVD)

(see above categories also)

MINIATURES (see also Miniatures)
Sue Heaser - Polymer Clay
Topic - Dollhouses & Miniatures
*MANY tiny items

see also

--Covering for "light-bulb armature" vessels & napkin rings, for clocks on CD's, etc.,
for "rock" purses/amulets/containers (formed over removable rocks, large and small)
--Armatures and Houses/Structures for using forms and armatures, and more box-like shapes
--BOH for covering tiny glass bottles
Clay Guns for weaving or crocheting vessels