Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Polymer "Pottery": Faux Ceramic - Technique 1

This post has a little story behind it....Due to some unexpected events, the Westerly Artists' Gallery was in need of an artist to develop a show for the large street-side window.  When no one stepped forward, I agreed to give it a shot, IF I could pull in one or two other 3-D artists and make a small "group" show.  It was just too short notice to produce enough pieces by myself.   Happily, I was able to talk a potter and a woodworker into joining me.  Things are shaping up nicely, and the show will go on in April.
The reason this figures into my blog posting is I decided to try to make items that tied into the other 2 mediums.  I've made polymer faux wood pieces before, and knew I could make a few items that tied in nicely with the woodworker's items.  However, I've never tried making polymer "ceramics."  Here was the perfect impetus!
First, I decided to do a bit of research and see what others were using for ceramic-like effects.  I have long been an admirer of Iris Mishly of Polymeri Online.  She has some absolutely fantastic tutorials on just about any polymer topic you can imagine and, of course, she has an exceptional series on polymer ceramic techniques. I'm always happy with her tutorials, and her tips and tricks are quite worthwhile.  I also found a few Youtube videos on the topic, as well as an interesting tutorial on Polymerclayweb.  I set about experimenting, trying different ideas to see what "fit" for me.
Today's post covers the first approach I used. These are closest to Iris' approach, and, I feel, allowed me to achieve a somewhat rustic and realistic ceramic look.  When I showed them to friends, they thought the pieces were actually ceramic - until they picked them up and felt that lovely polymer lightness.
One of the most consistent aspects of the various approaches was the use of pastels or chalks for creating color. Iris also uses another product that adds some special effects.  I used some plastic stencils from Iris' website for the designs and some wallpaper textures for the back of the pieces. Here are the backs of 2 of the pieces shown above.

One of the hardest things for me is making the pieces into something that is done and immediately wearable.  The finishing - bails, chains, cording - is not my favorite part.  Sometimes the ideas I have are too time consuming - and I want to get back to more clay!   The ceramic pieces I made with this approach seemed suited to somewhat more casual approaches.  So here are examples using silk ribbon and wound cording on the left,  and chains below on the right.

Of course, I also needed to try some earrings.  I found these were a bit larger than what I usually make. The patterns just needed more space.


  1. Thanks so much for this and the following post. Very interesting. This is one technique I have yet to try.

  2. I am a total newbie to polymer clay. I do not understand how you did this. Where can I find specific instructions? Thanks

    1. Hi, Kim,

      There are several tutorials, some free and others for sale, on the Internet. You can do a Google search for "polymer clay ceramic tutorials" or "polymer clay faux ceramic tutorial." One version is available at http://www.polymerclayweb.com/Tutorials/FauxEffects/FauxCeramicPendant.aspx. Iris Mishly of Polymei Onine has some very extensive tutorials on her site. Hope you find this helpful. Have fun!

  3. Wonderful as always, Kristie! Really love the designs! Big hug :) iris

    1. How lovely to hear from you, Iris! As you can see, you are an inspiration to me. Thanks so much! Hugs back :)