The possibilities are endless when using resists and colored slips or underglazes!

A little-used technique is to use wax resist on leather-hard clay.


  1. A wax resist such as the ones here:

  2. Colored slip:

  3. OR an underglaze:

  4. A carving tool:

  5. Your imagination!

Handbuild or throw a piece and wait until it is leather-hard. Leather-hard clay is firmer and a stiffer stage of clay in which some of the water has evaporated. The surface will often take a leather like sheen to it and is not sticky to the touch. This is the stage where pottery thrown on the wheel is trimmed and a foot is added, handles are added and it is ideal for carving fine details into clay.

Take your leather-hard piece. As a starting-off point, you can either coat your piece with a solid color or leave the bare clay.

Next, cover the piece with wax resist in any areas you want to decorate. Once it has dried sufficiently, carve through the wax into the clay of your piece, exposing the underlying clay body. (be sure you discard those trimmings - don't incorporate them back into your recycled clay!)

After this, you will want to apply a colored slip or underglaze to the surface of the piece making sure to get into your cutting surface (the nooks and crannies of the piece!) Wait a few moments, and then wipe it away from the wax with a damp sponge. The color will stay - in sharp relief - in the areas you've carved, making for a detailed, creative pre-glaze finish!

As you gain more experience, try experimenting with more layers of slips or underglazes.

May your hands be full of clay!