Christmas is still more than 3 months away and yet I have been making ornaments for the holiday all of this month; here is a little video of me making ceramic gingerbread people ornaments from start to finish. These guys will be a special release on my website shop for Christmas 2020 in the coming weeks.
If you have an interest in making with clay, this might be a lovely project just in time for Christmas. Or if you would just like to see how I make these hanging ornaments. You can even make a more accessible version using salt clay or air dry clay using the same techniques here.
What you will need:
-Clay (I used buff slightly speckled stoneware here. Terracotta would be an ideal clay for this project also)
-Gingerbread people cutter
-Piping set with piping bags and assorted nozzles
-Underglaze in white and light brown (I use a brand called Contem)
-Small Paint brush
Step 1: Roll out your clay using Rolling guides and a rolling pin. Roll out to about 0.5cm. Compress your clay with a potter's metal or hard rubber kidney. This will will reduce warping and any air bubbles.
Step 2: Preferably allow to dry to a bit softer then leather hard. Begin cutting out your Gingerbread people with cutter.
Step 3: At leather hard, draw out your design. Drill a small hole near the top of your design with a drill bit about 3mm width. Fill your piping bag with thick clay slip and choose you nozzle. Pipe your clay slip with a similar pressure you would use for frosting on a cake (takes a bit of practice to get used to the consistency and method). I use a small round nozzle to pipe the face and wiggle lines on the arms and feet; and I use a french star shape for the body buttons. Allow to dry slowly to bone dry for first firing.
Step 4: Fire in bisque firing when completely bone dry. Remove from kiln. Wash with water to remove any clay dust. Allow to dry.
Step 5: Pick out your underglaze colours. Remember underglaze does not fire to the same colour it looks unfired so you may require test tiles to compare. Begin to Paint your Gingerbread Ornaments with underglaze (I water down my underglazes about 1:1 to water and apply about 3 layers). I used Contem Light brown and white. Allow to dry.
Step 6: Paint wax on the back of your design including the thin sides. Allow to dry. Prepare your transparent glaze. I use a piece of wire to hook the ornament threw the drilled hole and dunk into the glaze evenly coating your ceramic ornament. Allow to dry. Wipe the back clean of any drips of glaze.
Step 7: Your Gingerbread person is ready for glaze firing. I fire to cone 6. When your kiln is cool enough, retrieve your ornament and tire twine/string threw drilled hole ready to hang on your Christmas tree.
Many thanks for reading!
By Christina Goodall