How to Make Clay Jewelry Using a Carved Plaster Slab and Casting Slip

How to Make Clay Jewelry–Plaster Slab and Slip Method

I have been experimenting lately with how to make clay jewelry. Mostly I have been working with clay slabs, but there are countless methods for making ceramic jewelry. Body adornment is one of the oldest art forms so it is no surprise that clay has been used as a jewelry making material for a very long time. 

Today, I am sharing a nice little project from Joanna Veevers, excerpted from the book Ceramic Jewelry. Joanna shows how to make clay jewelry by scratching into a plaster slab and then pouring and painting on casting slips of different colors. Take it away Joanna! –Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.

This ceramic jewelry making 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.

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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.

This article was excerpted from Ceramic Jewelry, which is available in the Ceramic Arts Network Shop!

1. The design is drawn onto a smooth plaster block with a pencil and then scratched into the surface with a scalpel.

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.

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.

**First published in 2010.
  • Any words on where to start with colorants in casting slip? I have no idea on what works and what doesn’t.

  • Alfed S.

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

  • Beda H.

    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?

  • Alfed S.

    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.

  • Janet T.

    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!!!

  • 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.

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

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

  • Barbara H.

    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!

  • Valerie M.

    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

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