Introduction: Ceramic Brush Embroidery

About: Polymer clay enthusiast. I like making things that are tiny and cute!

Many years ago, I took ceramics as a school elective. This was also a time when I was obsessed with cake decorating, and found brush embroidery cakes and cookies. Since I couldn't use the kitchen that often back then (because....lack of counter space :P ), I used puff paint to decorate jewelry boxes to try out the technique. After a while, I noticed the similarities in texture in puff paint and the slip we used in class.

When I fell behind in a coil pot assignment (I got overambitious....), I used the opportunity to use some of my crafts supplies from home with the ceramics supplies from school. And so the designs on the giant coil pot you see in these photos came to be!

Disclaimer: It's been 4 years since I had the chance/materials to do ceramics, so everything I'm writing is what I'm remembering from 4 years ago. I also only have one year of experience in doing ceramics, and am in no way an expert.

I am also only writing about how to make this design, and not anything about firing, etc., since the teacher for that class did that for us so I have no experience with that step.


  • Pottery clay
  • Water
  • Paintbrush
  • Squeeze bottle (I use an old glitter glue bottle from the $1 store)

Step 1: Making Slip

In the ceramics class I had taken, slip was only used to "glue" different clay pieces together. I used it for decoration!

  • To make slip, cut out small pieces of your clay and soak it in water.
  • Mix until it is smooth and there are no chunks.
  • Add water a little at a time, until it is the texture of icing or puffy paint.

If you're using a glitter glue bottle like I am, wash it out and make sure there are no glitter or glue bits left inside. If there's a bit of plastic attaching the cap to the nozzle, cut this off.

Step 2: Piping

  • Add your slip to the bottle. Tap the bottle on your work surface occasionally to get out air bubbles.

Here I'm using a slab of clay to better show the embroidery, but you can use any clay surface you want (like, the coil pot I originally did this on).

  • Look at cake decorating pictures for inspirations. You can google "Brush embroidery" and find many tutorials and pictures for cookie and cake decorating.
  • For a simple flower design, draw the outlines of petals on your surface

Step 3: Brush Embroidery

  • Using a paintbrush, use the point/narrow end of your brush to drag down your clay. Avoid breaking through the border as you brush ("don't cut through the main line", as the Wilton brush embroidery tutorial calls it).
  • Clean your paintbrush frequently to remove excess clay, and to keep your brush from flattening out.
  • If you make a mistake, you can go over again with the paintbrush and cover the mistake! (As you can see in the video)
  • To make the leaf, draw a leaf shape and drag the slip with your paint brush in the same direction as the veins of a leaf.

Step 4: Finishing Details

To make some finishing details, use your bottle of slip to add dots to the center of your flowers, and to draw a line down the center of your leaves.

Allow this to dry completely before coloring with under-glaze/firing.

Step 5: Finishing Touches

And now, finish this project as you would like! You can color this with under-glaze and then bisque firing, and then glazing.

In the finished pot pictured, I just used glaze to color in the flowers, which is probably why some of the colors bleed and the bisque shows through. If anyone colors the flowers with under-glaze, or maybe even colors the slip, I would love to see pictures! Or if you have any pottery tips pertaining to this, please leave them in the comments as I, again, am in no way an expert!

Clay Contest 2016

Runner Up in the
Clay Contest 2016