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Published Sep 11, 2023

Cheese, glorious cheese! I am always a big fan of celebrating cheese in any way possible. So today, I thought I would share a great project that will help you present cheese in the dignified way it deserves. 

In today's post, an excerpt from her brand new book The Beginner's Guide to Decorating Pottery, Emily Reinhardt shares how she creates an abstract-patterned cheeseboard. The great thing about these cheeseboards is that they can double as wall art when not in use! –Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor
I’m a big fan of a well-rounded snack dinner, and I’ve become very good at building a proper cheeseboard. Whether it’s for myself or a group of friends I’m entertaining at my place, I like to lay out a fabulous spread of cheeses on a beautiful cheeseboard because it’s as much fun to focus on the presentation as it is to eat it.

Starting from the wet clay stage, I’ve built my cheeseboards thicker than my wall hangings because I want them to be used for serving and a thicker final slab feels more durable for picking up and passing around the table. I’ve made a bigger hole at the top so that my finger can rest in there when I’m holding it or passing it, and it can also be hung on the wall in the kitchen when it’s not in use. An abstract, all-over pattern turns your board into a lovely eye-catching piece of art when it’s not covered in fruit and cheese!

Since this project idea is embracing a functional serving piece, it’s necessary to use lead-free, nontoxic, food-safe glaze. Unlike artwork intended for wall hangings, we want to avoid heavily textured glazes or surfaces that are too porous for this project. Think about what will come into contact with that surface—hard and soft cheeses, fruit, and utensils. A high-gloss glaze will feel different from a matte finish, so think about this as you pick your glazes. You’ll also want to think about ease of cleanup and how a cheese knife will behave when it brushes against the surface of the glaze.


  • Bisqueware ready for glaze
  • Pencil, ruler, and stencils or paper templates for tracing your designs
  • Various lead-free, nontoxic, food-safe glazes
  • Assorted paintbrushes, squeeze bottles, and other glaze application tools
  • Sponge
  • Bucket of water


STEP 1 Using a pencil, draw out your design or pattern on your bisque-fired surface. You can trace objects or stencils for varying shapes on the surface or fill it out with an allover pattern (1). Decide if you want the surface fully covered or if you want any raw clay showing around the edge of your designs.

1 2 3

STEP 2 Start with your first glaze color and begin filling in your shapes or patterns (2). If you’re using squeeze bottles, you can do one pass of glaze. If you’re brushing it on, don’t forget to think about how many layers you’ll need for full glaze coverage.

STEP 3 Alternate your colors and your glaze choices as you start to fill in your patterns and designs (3, 4). Once it feels complete, clean up and prepare your piece for firing (5).

STEP 4 Once it’s fired and ready to use, it’s time for a snack party (6)!

4 5 Finished cheeseboards.

Excerpted with permission from The Beginner’s Guide to Decorating Pottery (Quarry Books, an imprint of The Quarto Group, 2023) by Emily Reinhardt. The Beginner’s Guide to Decorating Pottery can be purchased in the Ceramic Arts Network Shop. Learn more at