December 6, 2007

Queen Ornament Tutorial

Ok, here begins my Queen Ornament tutorial. I will keep the words brief and try to let the pictures do the talking. Unfortunately, this is not one of those quick and easy projects. There is much prep work for the stamps and the cutter, as well as drying and firing time. Ceramics is not exactly an immediate gratification sort of craft. But I wanted to show what goes into some of my work. Some of these ideas would work well for polymer clay or even stamping onto paper. I hope you find some inspiration:

These are black and white ink drawings I did, partially on computer (for repeating the crown, and the words) and part pencil and ink. The art needs to be very graphic black and white. I sent the artwork to Ready Stamps, and they came back a couple weeks later with two sheets of rubber stamps!
Carefully cut out the rubber stamps. They could be mounted at this point, but I prefer them unmounted for clay.
A lump of porcelain clay, two square dowels the desired thickness of the ornament, a brayer, and a slab mat
Rolling the slab
Make sure it is big enough for the stamp!
Place the stamp on the slab and carefully roll again with the brayer. Make sure it doesn't jiggle!
The stamped slab
Smoothing out the stamp edges
This is a custom cookie cutter I made just for this ornament. Its just some thin metal bent into shape and fastened. I get the metal in a cookie cutter kit, which has extra tools and instructions.
Place the cutter on the slab and cut out. I use a little cooking oil on my cutter and make sure it is clean each time.
Poking the holes with a coffee stirring straw.
At this point I let it sit and become dry (well, I didn't in this picture, but I *usually* do. Then I sponge sand the ends with a damp cloth to make it smooth. The ornaments are then dried fully and bisque fired to cone 04 (which is about 2000 degrees F)

After bisque, the ornaments can be glazed! I brush a glossy black glaze over all the stamped areas. I use Duncan Concepts for the black.
Wipe off the whole surface really well. If the stamping was done well, the detail should be very clear. When all the black is wiped away, I added more little dots and elements of colored glaze. A clear glaze can be added on top for a glossy surface, but I left this one bare. The glaze was fired to cone 6 (about 2300 degrees F) Beads were added with black copper wire and a ribbon tied to the top! Ready to decorate your favorite beaders tree or studio...

Whew, that was a lot of steps! What did you think of this tutorial? Leave me a comment, I would love to hear from you...
ps, in case you don't want to do all these steps to make your own ornaments, I am listing several styles in my Etsy shop this evening. I have queens of yarn, sparkle, and craft as well as the one used in this tutorial.


  1. Ms. Melanie

    This freaking rocks! I love the colors and that stamp is a must have for my ever expanding stamp collection...

    Thank you so much for joining in the fun my friend.


  2. Awesome tutorial, and the link for Ready Stamp is fantabulous. Great information!

  3. WOW! WOW! WOW! This is AWESOME! Your work is so inspired! :-) Hali

  4. Oh my gosh, I love your ornament! Even though I make beads with clay every day I still love to see how it's done because everyone does it a little different. I say the more photos the better.


  5. Thanks so much for the tutorial! I've been looking for a good source for turning designs into custom stamps - this is wonderful. Once again, I love the way your ornament turned out!

  6. great tutorial melanie. it's fun to see the behind the scenes in your process. no queen of clay?

    thanks for sharing!

  7. This ornament so great! I love your new stamps and stamped "queen of" line. Work it, girl!

  8. Melanie,

    Thank you for sharing this tutorial - very helpful links!

    Your porcelain looks so white & smooth. Would you mind sharing the type of porcelain you use?


  9. Thanks for all the comments, everyone!

    Margot, thanks to you gals for starting this Thursday Ornament thing. IT was lots of fun!

    Miachelle, I love Ready Stamps! Its a good cause too. The people that work there are amazing!

    Hali, thank you for your kind words and for visiting!

    Jennifer, I know I love to see how other clay people do thier work too. Sometimes it is just a little detail that makes all the difference, you know?

    Michelle, I enjoyed your blog today too. I will add you to my blogroll!

    Melissa, Thanks, it is pretty amazing to see your linework transformed into a stamp, with little effort. I highly recommend...

    Heather, I did want to do a Queen of the Clay! I couldn't think of what tools to use to represent clay though! Any suggestions...

    Katie, Thanks so much! I am having lots of fun with them...

    Stefanie, I use a smooth grolleg porcelain from my local supplier, Rovin's ceramics in Taylor MI. Although I think using porcelain for this might be overkill, and I am probably going to switch to their low fire white (which is still as smooth) and fire them a little cooler, to save energy and get brighter colors.

  10. Stunning! And with potential for lots of different craft applications. Thanks for sharing. Stunning!!

  11. What a great technique! It is great to see a different process! They are wonderful! You go girl!

  12. Thank you Melanie for such a great tutorial. Your directions are so clear and easy to follow. Great resources for stamps and cutters. And wonderful ornament.

  13. Gaea, Thanks so much! Rubber stamps open up a whole world in clay! You can do so much with them!

    Mary, Thansk for the compliments, and you are welcome. I am glad you have enjoyed...

  14. Thank you Melanie for such a wonderful tutorial!!! You are always so inspirational :)

  15. Fabulous step by step tutorial! And I love your ornament, it's adorable!!

  16. SuzyQ, Aw, thanks! And thanks for stopping by and reading the blog.

    Beading Help, Thank you for the compliments! I am glad you enjoyed it...

  17. I'm a little late, I just saw this!

    LOVE the tutorial! The pictures are great! I'm going to put my creative thinking cap on to see what I can come up with for ready stamps.

    Will there be more tutorials? This was very inspiring! Thank you!

  18. Linda,
    Thanks for dropping by! I plan to post another clay/stamp tutorial today, so check back later...

  19. oops! I just wanted to let you all know there was a typo in my original post. I said that cone 04 was 200 degrees but I meant 2000. Lost a zero there! It is edited now, but i just wanted to add it to the comments too...

  20. thanks heaps for this tutorial, I have been looking everywhere trying to work out how this is done : )