Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How to make a ceramic pottery hummingbird ornament out of clay...

These ceramic hummingbird ornaments are simple and fun to make. You can make them into ornaments to hang on your tree or to hang on a hook in your garden or in a potted plant. You can also tie beautiful ribbons on them to decorate a package, or even put a grouping together to make a wind chime. Anyone can make them…just follow these easy steps and have fun!

Ceramic pottery hummingbird ornaments fresh out of the kiln. It's an easy clay art project. Just follow these steps.
A flock of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds fresh from the kiln waiting to have festive ribbons tied on them!

Step 1: Grab the clay!
Start with a lump of clay. High fire or low fire, it doesn't matter. Your teacher can help you pick out the best clay. If you are going to make wind chimes or an outdoor ornament, however, high fire clay is stronger and will tolerate temperature fluctuations better.

Step 2: Roll out the clay!
You can put the clay through an extruder or roll it out with a rolling pin. I use a canvas wrapped board with guides on the edge to guarantee I get an even thickness:

A rolling pin on a canvas wrapped board with guides will help you get an even thickness when you roll out the clay.
...use a rolling pin to roll out the clay (or an extruder if the studio has one).

Step 3: Cut out the hummingbird shapes.
Use the following pattern to get the basic outline, then place the pattern on the clay and cut out the bird shape using an exacto knife, a needle tool, or a pointy clay stylus:

Free hummingbird pattern
Use this hummingbird pattern to cut out the shapes. You can make the pattern as large or as small as you like.

Step 4. Smooth out the cutouts.
Take a wet sponge and smooth out the edges. Cutting with a pointer or Exacto knife can leave a jaggy mess, so go over the clay with a damp sponge to smooth everything out:

Smooth out the rough edges of the clay cut-outs with a sponge.
...smooth out the rough edges of the clay hummingbird cutouts with a damp sponge. 

Step 5: Punch a hole in the top.
You can use a special hole puncher made for clay or just use the needle tool and gradually widen the hole:

Punch a hold in each clay hummingbird shape. You can punch the hole in the top wing, or near the head like I've done here.
...don't forget to punch a hole in each clay cutout!

Step 6. Let it dry...and wait...
One trick when working with flat clay cutouts is to use small boards of drywall. Place the cutouts on a flat piece of drywall board first, then place another board on top of the cutouts to keep them from warping as they dry. It can take up to two weeks for clay cutouts to dry completely, but when they are thin (1/4 to 1/2 inch) they usually dry within a week.

Step 7. Bisque fire the cutouts.
Your teacher or studio owner will bisque fire the cutouts when they are ready. Bisque firing changes the clay into ceramic material. When the cutouts come out of the kiln, they will be hard and white...and ready for glazing!

Step 8: Glaze the hummingbirds.
You can use any style when you glaze the hummingbirds, whether it’s detailed and realistic or modern and sketchy. I wanted these to be fun, colorful and carefree, so I went with a sketchy style that can be painted in a just a few brushstrokes:

The easiest way to glaze the hummingbirds: 1. Glaze the back and wings green.   2. Glaze the belly white.   3. Glaze the chin red.   4. Finally, outline the bird in black.
Use any style to glaze the hummingbirds. I used a sketchy and fun style for this batch. The bright red and green look great on a Christmas tree or as a package ornament.    
     Follow these steps to paint the hummingbirds:
          1. Glaze the back and wings green.
          2. Glaze the belly white.
          3. Glaze the chin red.
          4. Finally, outline the bird in black.

Step 9. Fire it again!
After the second fire, they are good to go. Have fun decorating packages, making ornaments, or making a wind chime.

p.s. You can do this with cookie dough too!  ....or you can use any cookie cutter on clay.
...and I've already had three requests for other patterns: a chickadee, a cardinal, and a bluebird. I'll see if I can create a few more patterns tonight.

How to make three other easy clay bird projects
To make a ceramic pottery bird's nest with removable eggs, click here.
To make a ceramic pottery bird feeder, click here.
To make a ceramic owl or owl ornament, click here.


Bob Bushell said...

Thanks for teaching me, fantastic photos.

Roy Norris said...

They are cute Kelly.

Kerri said...

What a great project!!!

Betsy Adams said...

Gorgeous, Kelly... You are so talented. How do you find time to do all of the things you do????? I love the little hummingbirds.... Too Cute!!!!

Have a wonderful holiday season.

Montanagirl said...

Wonderful "teaching" post and good photos to go with it! Really a terrific project.

Gillian Olson said...

A great project. Thanks for sharing the step by step with us.

Guy said...

Hi Kelly

I enjoyed this post, some years ago I made a hanging mobile of bats for a friend that studied them. I cheated and used a cookie cutter but this brought back happy memories.


Tammie Lee said...

how wonderful that you are in the holiday spirit. i think birds on xmas trees are the best, so natural! yours are charming.

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone! I hope you get to make a few of these fun ornaments. I think this summer I'm going to make another batch for a wind chime. I need to come up with a creative top to hold all the hummingbirds...maybe a large flower!

Midmarsh John said...

Brilliant Kelly. Haven't done any pottery since I was at training college - many years ago.

Michaela said...

I love those! :)