|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:
|...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:
|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 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:
|...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:
|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.|
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 two 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.