When we think about working with clay, it’s easy to feel intimidated. Shaping a piece of wet dirt with our hands to create something meaningful seems like magic – the kind reserved only for true artists. But the truth is, clay is such a forgiving medium that virtually anyone can have success with it on their first try. All it takes is a willingness to get your hands dirty and creativity.
This list contains 13 simple things to make in ceramics that even the greenest of clay novices can accomplish. They require little technical skill yet allow you to flex your artistic muscles. We have chosen items that are useful, whimsical, or beautiful. Finished with basic glazing methods, they make thoughtful gifts or conversation pieces to display around the home.
The most basic thing to make with polymer clay is undoubtedly the ball. All you need to do is roll the clay between your hands until it forms a round shape. Seems easy, right? But even a simple ball requires dexterity and an understanding of how clay moves under pressure. Making balls of different sizes is a great way to get comfortable manipulating clay. Once you’ve got the basic ball down, you can practice making oval or teardrop shapes too.
A pinch pot is one of the simplest hand-built clay forms. Start with a ball of clay and use your thumbs and fingers to press the center inward, creating a cup shape. Then refine the edges by gently pinching them thinner. You can make plain pinch pots in various sizes, or get creative by adding texture with tools. Pinch pots are a fundamental skill that will serve you well as your clay skills progress.
Building with coils is another elementary clay creation idea. Take snakes of rolled-out clay and wrap them around and on top of each other to form containers. As with pinch pots, coil pots come in many variations – you can add strips or design patterns as you build. Coiling allows you to construct hollow forms without needing a potter’s wheel. It’s a dependable method for making basic vases or bowls.
Garden Stepping Stones
Here’s a fun outdoor project: cut squares or rectangles out of clay, then add texture and imprints using tools. Let your imagination run wild – try raking leaves onto the surface or pressing pebbles and shells into the wet clay. Once bisque-fired, these patterned stepping stones will add whimsy to any garden path. They make a nice creative gift too!
Tiles are a versatile clay item. Cut or roll clay into square, rectangular, or custom shapes, and decorate them however you like. Apply designs using slip trail patterns, stamps, or carvings. Once fired, tile art looks beautiful on walls, mantels, or as coasters. Glaze the tiles for shine or leave them raw and earthy. Tiles encourage self-expression through pattern-making.
People love collecting small trinkets, so charms make charming gifts. Roll or pinch charms in the shapes of hearts, stars, simple clay animals, or symbols. Don’t forget to drill a small hole before bisque firing for stringing. You can brush on glaze colors and add details like googly eyes. Slip these handmade charms onto bracelets or hang them on keychains.
Bring function into your clay creations with magnets. Shape coins or circles of clay, make indentations for magnets to sit in, and then glue magnets onto the back before firing. Finish with a glossy glaze for a professional look. Personalized magnets make for ideal homemade favors and are useful items to have around the home.
Here’s a staple household item you can mold yourself – bookends. Form rectangular or curved slabs, standing them on end to test sizes. Add clever designs or imprint book spines for a literary touch. Once fired, set your handmade bookends on shelves to organize your collection in a distinctive style. Their honest material makes them perfect for any bookshelf.
Also Read: How to Draw Anime Characters for Beginners?
Shaping containers out of clay is both practical and beautiful clay stuff to make. Start simply with basic cylinders or evolve designs like pinched, coiled, or slab-constructed vases. Try texturing the surface, adding appliques, or carving patterns as finishing details. Glaze-fired vases in bright hues and make wonderful home accents or thoughtful gifts for any occasion.
Put your vase-making skills to use crafting planters. Form shallow or deep containers to cradle succulents, herbs, or flowers. Get creative decorating with stamps, marks, or appliques. Glaze the interior and outside. Once cured, these cheery vessels will enrich any windowsill or tabletop with a homegrown touch. DIY pots are also nice makeshift salsa or dip bowls for entertaining.
Ceramic mugs are the epitome of functionality that meets art. Practice centering and pulling clay to throw mugs on the wheel. Or construct them stackable slab style. Personalize plain white mugs with decals, underglazes, or slip trailing. Glaze the inside for drinkability. Homemade mugs make enjoying morning coffee feel like an experience – whether kept for yourself or given as gifts.
If you feel your skills have developed, get sculptural by shaping figurines, animals, or abstract forms. Observe real-world references or let your imagination flow. Bring characters to life through attentive anatomical details. Sculpting returns us to clay’s roots as a creative medium for self-expression. Display whimsical sculptures proudly.
Once adept at centering and maintaining slab thickness, level up to functional serving pieces. Create simple dishes, compotes, or trays either wheel-thrown or slab-built. Glaze the insides food-safe then decorate exteriors with underglaze. Handmade ceramic bowl sets and platters make statement serving pieces for casual meals or gatherings with friends and family.
Give yourself permission to freely sculpt without concern for perfection as you discover your innate talents. With these basic clay model ideas for beginners, unleash your imagination knowing any creations, however modest, add beauty to the world through the power of your capable hands. Now get messy!