I love sculpting, and if I had the choice, would do it every day! Unfortunately, sculptures are very time consuming, and it's hard to find a market for selling them at a price that pays for that time.

Needless to say, I'm not wealthy enough to do what I love most for a living, so workshops, lessons and retail sales of my pots, are a necessary component of making clay my income. So how do I get my "sculpting fix?" I improvise!

Embellishing pots, has become a way for me to do the sculpting I love, and turn out enough product to survive. I'm going to show you a few of the embellishments I do regularly, but feel free to "improvise" in your own way.For those of us, that need a little help, cookie cutters are a great place to start. They give you the basic shape, and a blank pallet, for creating some really nice sprigs. But, sometimes a cookie cutter just won't work, and you have to come up with your own design. Here are some ideas.

Give it a try?

  • roll out a small piece of clay 1/8-1/4" thick
  • using a cookie cutter, cut out the shape you want to work with
  • manipulate the shape by stretching and bending
  • add some relief cuts, a little clay or slip, underglaze, or texture
  • score/slip and attach to your pot
  • Voila'! Quick, easy and pretty darn cute!
  • Butterfly

How about a Calla lily?

  • roll a thin piece of clay
  • cut out a teardrop shape
  • push your thumb into the largest part of the shape and stretch it a little
  • roll a little coil for the stamen and stem
  • lay the coil on the teardrop
  • dampen the teardrop and roll the sides over
  • Again... pretty simple and pretty amazing!


  • roll a coil, the thickness you want, for the body of the bird
  • pinch and stretch it into shape
  • roll a tiny ball for the head, score/slip both the body and head, and attach
  • with a thin piece of clay, cut out two wings
  • using a knife or needle tool, cut a small slit in both sides of the body
  • dampen the wing, insert into slit, and pinch a little to secure it
  • Another simple but amazing embellishment!

Time to try your hand at it! Start with the cookie cutters if you need to, then try some of the things that inspire you most. Don't give up after your first, second or tenth time! Once you achieve a good sample, it gets easier!

Do you have an idea or project you'd like to share, or would you like to try your hand at writing an article for us? Shoot us an e-mail at

Look for more great ideas on the "How-to" page of our website.

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