As a crafter of all sorts, I learn to incorporate various techniques into different media to get things done. I’m not the most confident when it comes to carving clay, so I needed a technique that would help get the job done and get great results every time. I decided to try a wax-paper transfer method to get my text onto the clay surface as a guide and I was so excited when it worked. The wax paper I use is the same used for baking and can be found in most grocery stores. Here’s what I do.

Use any computer program that can print text or images. Make sure the scale of the graphic is the size you want it to be on the clay. Note: Before printing, make sure your image is flipped horizontally or mirrored. This is especially important with text, as it will ensure it transfers legibly.

1 Print your mirrored design onto a trimmed piece of wax paper. 2 Lightly rub the image, ink side down, to transfer it onto the clay.

Once ready to print, I cut a piece of wax paper to measure 8½×11 inches and feed that through my basic ink-jet home printer (1). Cut the paper around the perimeter of the ink-jet printed image so that it is a smaller, more manageable size. Carefully place the paper ink-side down on wet or leather-hard clay. With your finger, lightly rub the back of the wax paper to help the wet ink transfer to the clay (2).

3 With your favorite carving tool, use the transferred ink image as a guide to carve. Photos: Ryan Sherman.

Gently lift the wax paper. The image should be left on the clay, creating a visual carving guide (see 3). Don’t worry about ink left on the clay after you finish carving; it will burn away once fired in the kiln.