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Published Jul 15, 2020

cardboard stencil

I love using stencils in my work. I've tried lots of different materials as stencils, but I had never thought to use cardboard. Karmien Bowman uses cardboard stencils to create lively imagery as well as dimensionality on her slab built pottery.

In today's post, an excerpt from From a Slab of Clay, Daryl Baird explains Karmien's process. — Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor

Having dozens of clay tools is by no means a prerequisite for slab work. But, don't be surprised as you work on your initial projects that you start looking at the utensils in your kitchen drawers or at the hand tools in your garage and find yourself thinking, "I wonder how those would work on clay?" If so, good for you!

Creating and Using Cardboard Stencils

Karmien Bowman of Flower Mound, Texas, creates stencils from pieces of thin cardboard. She places the cardboard shapes on a slab then brushes on slip which creates a raised texture.

After the slip sets up, she carefully removes the shapes. This needs to be done before the slip dries, otherwise it cracks off.

In the image below, Karmien uses a metal ring (a tart pan or springform pan from a cooking store might work well for this) to locate the best image and then cuts through the slab. Any shape can be cut using a fettling knife.

Finished shapes that have been allowed to set up over drape molds (bottom). Colored slips add distinctive designs to rolled slabs.

cardboard stencil
Finished platter by Karmien Bowman.
**First published in 2013.