Adornments: How to Create Colorful Ceramic Jewelry Using a Carved Plaster Slab and Casting Slip

Body adornment is one of the oldest art forms so it is no surprise that clay has been used as a jewelry material for a very long time. I have been messing around with making pendants lately and was excited to peruse the new book Ceramic Jewelry when it came across my desk. The book didn’t disappoint. It is packed with great information on designing and forming jewelry with clay, as well as guidelines for working with metal findings and incorporating other materials into the mix.

Today, I am sharing a nice little project from Joanna Veevers, in which designs are scratched into a plaster slab and then casting slips of different colors are poured and painted over the slab to make colorful brooches (like those shown at left). Take it away Joanna! –Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

This technique allows a fine, delicate line to be scored into the surface of a plaster block, which will form a raised decoration on the surface of soft clay pressed into it. This intricate design can be reproduced quickly once the plaster block has been made. A mirror image will be left in the clay surface, so any lettering needs to be scored in reverse.

Joanna Veevers paints colored slips onto a plaster block into which she has scratched an intricate pattern. Then she creates a clay wall around the plaster slab and pours casting slip over it, which gives the thickness to the piece and picks up the detailed decoration.

Veevers shows in this series of images how she makes her intricate, patterned semi-porcelain brooches, sometimes using as many as five different colored casting slips in one piece.


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1. The design is drawn onto a smooth plaster block with a pencil and then scratched into the surface with a scalpel. (click on images to enlarge!)



2. Black casting slip is painted over the surface.



3. When the slip has dried to leatherhard, the excess is scraped away with a metal kidney, leaving the design showing as black lines.



4. Different colored casting slips are hand-painted into different areas.



5. A clay wall surrounds the block, and casting slip is flooded into the area.

fig. 6

fig. 6

6. When the clay sheet is turned over the black slip delineates the colors. The finished pieces are cut into individual brooches. Each brooch measures approximately 1 1/2 X 1 inch.

This article was excerpted from Ceramic Jewelry,
which is now available in the Ceramic Arts Daily Bookstore!

Order online and get free shipping!

(U.S. orders only)

  • OH WOW!!! I love the photo…I always procrastinate about buying books online…I have so many now that one more will break my bookshelf but I am going to get my credit card and order this one now…it is so exciting. I checked out the download excerpt from the book too. Cool! I make jewelry now but this book looks like it has so many ideas…I wonder if I order it now will I get it before bedtime tonight??? Ok enough typing, I gotta order this book. Catch you all later, Valerie

  • FINALLY, someone who thinks that wonderful, tactile clay can be art to wear! I have been making clay to wear for over 5 years now using mostly terra sigillata as a finish even on my cone 10 fired stoneware beads.
    What is nice about the sig finished beads and focals is that they absorb the essence of the wearer when worn against the skin. They can also be infused with essential oils before wearing!

  • Hi – I’ve been wanting to make some cermaic jewellry for a long time but lacked inspiration to come up with something different. This is just the book to get me going. I’m off to order it right now.

  • I always kept my works away from rich decoration but it was very goood idea for me n thnx 🙂

  • How do you avoid scraping off plaster when you are doing step 3? Doesn’t the metal rib dig into the plaster?

  • Well, this really is a new, exciting way to design jewelry. My mind is not quite up to par right now, but once I have composed myself after loosing my husband this past March 14, I’m sure that I will give this a really good try. I love!!!!!!!!!! this website. Thanks to the originators of this particular contribution.

  • WOW!! What an interesting way to pick up clay colors! Wonder if One could dampen them later to roll the pieces or to form them into what you like, without losing the lovely black lines? Hyah! a new adventure!!!

  • I loved the design.Thanks for sharing.
    Azar Vaghefi

  • Hi! I live in Poland (in Europe) and I’ve made ceramic jewellery since 1996 r. I made all beads by my hands, I don’t use mold. I love colors so I buy a new glazes all the time (I have three from US too) . If you like see my works: – site is in Polish but labels are in English.

  • Joanna, I checked out your site and love your jewelry. Question is how did you keep the edges of your beads white? Is it glaze or clay?

  • Thank you for your visit. I’m glad that you enjoy my work :-). About your question: it’s clay.

  • Any words on where to start with colorants in casting slip? I have no idea on what works and what doesn’t.

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