Handbuilding Video: How to Make a Mosaic-Patterned Bowl Using Loaves of Colored Clay

If you like color and pattern in your work, but are also a fan of the beauty of clay in a raw state with little or no glaze, today’s video is for you. In this clip, an excerpt from Pottery Decoration: Traditional Techniques, potter Tom Shafer demonstrates a version of the nerikomi technique. Nerikomi (often referred to as “neriage”) is a decorative process established in Japan that involves stacking colored clays and then slicing through the cross section to reveal a pattern, which can then be used as an applied decoration, or in this case, to build a form on a plaster mold. This short and sweet video gives an introduction to building the loaves and shows how Tom uses the slices to make a bowl on a hump mold. There is no limit to the fun that can be had with this technique so watch the video and give it a go yourself! – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.


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This clip was excerpted from Pottery Decoration: Traditional Techniques, available in the Ceramic Arts Daily Bookstore.

  • Latonya B.

    thank you very much for that article even though its something I’m not interested in but i liked it. i would like to try it one day.

  • Sherman H.

    Helen, this is an excerpt from a DVD called Pottery Decoration: Traditional Techniques. It is indeed for sale in the CAD bookstore at the following link:

  • Helen S.

    Can I purchase a DVD on this

  • Sonal K.

    this is a beautyful trick.thanks.

  • A Pauline H.

    Wonderful, thanks so much for sharing.

  • Kathleen R.

    Sally, you might want to reflect on your negative perceptions, especially given that the video received so many positive responses.

  • Sally P.

    This video was extremely disappointing. It left me on the edge of my seat, in total frustration. I’m sure the artists had some good things to show us, but the camerman refused to get closeups of whatever tool was being used. The artists pointed the item right at the camera, in front of their chest (so it was hard to see whatever it was) but the cameraman, as I say, would not zoom in. Also, we never saw the finished product, so have no idea what the end result was. So very frustrating, and the cost was much too high, especially when all I wanted to do was tear my hair out!

  • Sherman H.

    Randy, stains are rarely soluble. They are made from oxides and other materials, sintered together to make them consistent and stable, then ground to a powder. They shouldn’t absorb into your skin, but they can, well, STAIN things—like your hands, so Kathleen’s suggestion of gloves is wise.

  • Jacki S.

    Nice video! I just finished a workshop with Vince Pitelka learning this technique. Great fun and what an infinite number of possibilities.

  • Kathleen R.

    Great! I knew plaster poses problems as well…. so nice to be reaffirmed as to why I haven’t worked with it. I love the idea of throwing a form and trimming it down to use as a mold.

    Do you prep it with anything to help the clay release?

  • Kathleen, I don’t use plaster molds, as I don’t like plaster in the studio. I throw large bowls, and trim them round on outside and inside. After a bisque firing they are great slump-and-hump molds.

  • Janet .

    The video was very good. Thanks so much, like to see more.

  • Kathleen R.

    Great video, thank you for creating it! Inspires me yet again, to try something new. Do you have a video for making plaster molds, like the one your bowl was on?

    Randy, I’ve used latex gloves at times for working and mixing with stains. It’s a great way to protect your hands.

  • Thank you.It was very intressting and I will try this technic next time.

  • Eduardo B.

    Tom Shafer you make me wish to run into the studio and make something with clay. Thankyou.

  • Donna S.

    good! but how do i color my clay? and do you have to use the same clay? right! of course you do…but how do you get the colors?

  • Fernando S.

    Hello Randy,

    Maybe this can help you:


  • Charlotte B.

    Can anyone tell me the best way to make colored clay. I’ve made it with mason stains but worry that when I wedge it, my hands will absorb some of the stains. Is it safe?

  • Maria Teresa C.


  • Susan B.

    This is so cool! Great project for art camp!

  • Maribel P.

    No se ingles quiero saber si tienen la información y videos en español, gracias,

  • thank you. i always like to learn new techniques. would be more useful if the camera takes it in a close up position.

  • Susan P.

    I do some quilting, and have some funky patterns I’m going to try with this technique. thx for the inspiration!

  • Erika D.

    This technique has lots of possibilities. Thanks.

  • Subscriber T.

    Thank you !!! Very nice work.

  • Valerie M.

    I do a lot of color clay work and handbuilding. I like to see how others approach this technique. I used to mix my own clay…years ago. I have always made up my own color clay by marbling. Then I discovered layering…it is so addicting!

  • Karen M.

    Thank you! Very interesting;-)

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