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Starfish box | Handbuilding Clay Slab Project


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Ceramic clay Starfish or Sea Creatures can be designed, made and used for wall mount display, ornament or as a functional box. Most sea shells and sea animals (Sea Horse, Sea Crabs, Sea Urchin) can be constructed using similar technique as the Starfish tutorial shown below. This tutorial walks you through the process of "Making Sea Animals With Clay" step by step. Have fun trying it! Lakeside Pottery, Stamford, CT


Step-by-step Hand Building Clay Starfish Box - Lesson


Design options are infinite and can be placed on a thin paper like "newsprint" though manila folders will stand up longer to multiple uses. For the sea urchin below, a round template was used. Prepare a slab for the typical 1/4" (see Making Tiles tutorial).

Use slab roller or rolling pin
Smooth and compress slab
Prepare paper template

Trace template on clay slab

We prefer to use a knife (instead of a pintool) for a cleaner and cleaner cut. Make sure you hold the knife at 90 degrees at all times while cutting to ensure square cut. Hump mold is made out of plaster or bisque

Mark clay as on the template
Cut starfish pattern
Place over a hump mold
Push clay to shape
ceremic texture mats

Transfer to smaller hump mold
Push clay to this smaller shape
Define starfish arms
Repeat for all five arms

Remove from hump mold
Repeat and make a second one
Flatten surface
Ready to be attached

When attaching two halves, make sure to use the markings you made earlier to line up - your design may not be perfect and this ensures a good fit.

Score all contact points
Slip all contact points
Attach 2 halves (see note above)
Pinch / connect two parts

Adding a coil is important to make sure the pieces are sealed. Flattening the coil makes blending it easier.


Blend with wooden tool
Make a small coil
Flatten the coil
Place around contact point


Note that throughout the above process, we did not use slip - we used "Magic Water" instead for better connection. See Magic Water Recipe.

The rib and the sponge are very different than typical ribs or sponges and they do an amazing job. To learn more about them, click the following links: MudSponge Sherrill Mudtools Red Rib

Add more coil if needed
Blend coil
Smooth coil with rib
Use sponge to refine shape


Use sponge to refine arms shape
Shape completed
Create arms extensions
Make a pin hole for air escape to avoide breaking or explotion in the kiln
Score extensions


IMPORTANT: It is very important that you make sure to poke holes with a pin tool in each arm (see below on left) before adding the extensions to let air escape during drying and firing. Without the holes, it will most likely crack or break. The Starfish itself must have a hole as well - in this example, the hole is on top.

Make a through hold (air trap)
Connect extension
Blend
Add a coil
Blend coil
Shape arms
Add more definition
Create texture
Starfish - bottom feet
Starfish bottom feet and texture
Starfish complete
Ceramic sea urchin candle holder
Starfish box lid
clay sea creatures collection
Your input is greatly appreciated and will help in creating improved pottery tips.

Thank you, Patty and Morty

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