Introduction: Embossed Message on Ceramic Gift for Special Celebration

About: I do ceramics since 2014 and I love that ! My son Hugo, who is crazy about space and electronics, told me about Instructables, and I decided to join.

My parents neighbours Pierre and Marinette wanted to celebrate their 60 years wedding, called the Diamond Anniversary (Noces de Diamant in french). They wanted to thank their guests for this special day with a gift as a souvenir. They asked me to prepare a small ceramic piece with some text on it, and the two dates 1956 - 2016. I decided to prepare a plaster mould with their text and a drawing of the mountains where they live (the Aiguilles d'Arves) and use it to reproduce several ceramic small rectangular plates (for soap or else).

Step 1: Prepare the Plaster Support

What you need :

- Plaster special for sculpture (less fragile than usual plaster)

- Plastic bucket and its lid

- Water

- Blender

- Glass paper

Instructions :

In a plastic bucket, blend the plaster with water in these proportions : 1.5 plaster volume for 1 water volume. Adapt the amount of prepared plaster to the size of the support you will prepare.

Wait a little bit that air bubbles go away and pour it in the lid of a bucket : this is the best way to obtain a thin homogeneous plate. If you have prepared too much plaster, use it in other containers for further works.

When it is solidified, put it out of the lid and let it dry approx. one week under the sun or on a radiator (to dry faster)

When it is well dryied, smoothen the surface with thin glass paper and eliminate the dust.

Step 2: Creation of the Drawing and Engrave the Plaster

What you need :

- tracing paper

- engraving tools for plaster

- paint brush

Instructions :

Prepare the message, the drawing at scale 1:1 on a tracing paper

Apply it on the clean surface of the plaster plate to reproduce the words and the drawing in mirror-image.

Then engrave the letters and drawing, the etch depth is about 1-2 mm, it must be enough to lead to a final ceramic with a readable text.

To check whether it is deep enough, you can apply a small piece of clay on the plaster to see what it looks like.

Eliminate the dust with a paint brush.

Step 3: Prepare the Ceramic Plates

What you need :

- stoneware clay

- wooden baguettes 5mm thick

- wooden roller

- small round baguettes approx. 8mm diameter

- sculpture loop tool

- grater

Instructions :

Prepare a rectangular piece of clay, a little bit thicker than the final ceramic plate, and with the dimensions of the plate.

Apply it on the plaster, and roll slowly the clay between the 5mm baguettes, in order to embed the clay into the engraved letters and drawing with homogeneous thickness.

Cut the 2 largest sides of the clay, remove it slowly from the plaster and then cut the 2 smallest sides. You obtain a rectangular ceramic with embossed message.

Put some small round baguettes under the rectangle in order to obtain raised edges, be carefull not to touch now the embossed parts.

Dry it a little with a hair dryer if the clay is too soft, remove the round baguettes and let the plate dry until it has leather-like consistency (1-2 days in air, depending on the temperature).

Then do the finishes : with a sculpture loop tool, remove on the back the clay excedent due to round baguettes, smoothen it. Then with a graper, work slowly on the edges to smoothen them. Finish to smoothen with a sponge and water.

Let it dry (one week) and fire it at bisque temperature (980°C / 1800°F with cycling about 100°/hour).

Step 4: Glazing and Firing

What you need :

- glaze for high temperature ceramics

- glazing tongs

- kiln

Instructions :

Prepare the glaze : I use here a french commercial transparent enamel for high temperature stoneware clay. 2kg powder in 2.5kg rain water (to avoid too hard water). After blending with a soup blender, I wait that air bubbles go away before use.

With glazing tongs, I pour the plates in the glaze bucket and remove the glaze under the plate with a sponge.

TIP : You can previously apply liquid furnitures wax on the back of the bisque plates with a paint brush, so when you pour the plate in the glaze bucket, the enamel doesn't go on the wax, you have almost nothing to remove with the sponge !

Fire the plates at the temperature which corrsponds to your enamel : here, final temperature is 1260°C / 2300°F.

Clay Contest 2016

Runner Up in the
Clay Contest 2016