Modelling, Moulding and Applying Clay Sprigs to a Fabbo Cocktail Bowl




Introduction: Modelling, Moulding and Applying Clay Sprigs to a Fabbo Cocktail Bowl

Not a very snazzy title for quite a snazzy thing. Oh well..

While this Instructable is specifically about pottery and the finished item is fired in a kiln, the basic steps can be used to make items in various media; air dried clay, chocolate, papier mache etc.


I decided that I was very much in need of a cocktail. Preferably a big stupid Tiki one. A big stupid cocktail with a volcano where you can fill the crater with rum and light it. So I made myself a suitable cocktail bowl. Apparently these are known as 'Scorpion bowls' as they were first used at Trader Vic's for Scorpion cocktails.

What you need:


Modelling clay (I prefer modelling clay for this stage as normal clay dries out because I work s.l.o.w.)

Plaster (I used potters plaster this time but often use plaster of Paris)

Flat surface for modelling on. I used pieces of HPL laminate as that's what I had to hand.


Kitchen foil

Underglazes and glazes if you want to fire it


Basic modelling tools

Flexible knife, like a butter knife or scraper

Potters wheel and kiln if you are going to actually going to fire it

Step 1: That's a Relief

When I am making a relief I like to draw or print a suitable image to size. Then I sketch it a couple of times as I find this fixes it in my brain.

Draw the outline of the image on your surface with pencil. Trace or cut out your picture and draw around it if you like. This fixes the scale.

Fill your drawing with small pieces of clay, pressing them down firmly.

Build up the relief. Repeatedly measure and check against your original print or drawing.

To get a piece I am reasonably happy with I find I build up, remove, build up, remove and keep working away.

Step 2: When They Made Him They Threw Away the Mould

Don't throw away the mould...

I find a container a bit larger than my mould just in case my foil bursts and I leak plaster everywhere.

Cut 2 layers of kitchen foil large enough to envelop your piece. Wrap around carefully and press crimp the corners, being careful not to tear it. You really want to make it at least an inch higher than the top of your piece.

Mix up your plaster according to the instructions, always adding the powder to the water. I wrote the mix on the bucket I use so that I don't have to look it up every time.

I find it helpful to repeatedly tap the mix onto a work surface to try and bring all the air bubbles to the surface.

Tip the mix into the mould. I try to do this from a bit of a height, maybe a foot or two, as the pressure of the drop helps fill any voids.

Once dry, remove your original and admire your handiwork.


In this case, these are all images from a band I like; the Witchdoktors, as their images fit well with the Tiki theme I had in mind.

Step 3: Hot Stuff

If you use a potters wheel you will probably know how to do this, so I'll keep it short:

Throw a straight sided bowl with a large hole in the middle.

Throw an open volcano shape just larger than the hole in the bowl.

Throw a small bowl for the crater to fit the top of the volcano.

Trim, score, slip and join the pieces.

I also painted the outside of mine with yellow slip for that Tiki bamboo vibe.

I also threw 4 matching beakers.

Step 4: Sprig Is in the Air

Once the bowl and mugs are sufficiently dry it is time to apply the 'sprigs'.

Firmly push clay into the moulds, pushing hard to get any air bubbles out.

Scrape across the top with some firm plastic getting a nice level surface. If you use metal small pieces of plaster will end up in the clay and these will be disastrous for the firing.

Allow a few minutes for the plaster to suck some moisture out then it's time to release the sprig. Push the flat surface of the knife against the clay to get a kind of suction and with small moves keep trying to pop the hole thing out. It is a bit trick at first, but it will come with practice. You have the mould so it doesn't matter if you mess a few up.

Score and slip the bowl and the sprig and carefully put them together, being sure not to trap any air.

Step 5: Paint

Paint your piece with suitable underglaze. I prefer to do this at greenware stage.

Step 6: Fire Fire

Bisque fire.

Touch up where necessary with underglaze.

Glaze. If you are using your piece for food or drink you need to ensure the top layer is food safe. In this case the lava is Terracolor's 'dark solar red', and the whole lot is covered with a clear food safe glaze.

Do your glaze fire. In this case it was 1220c.

Step 7: Make Cocktail, Drink Cocktail

I thought, all things considered, pina colada was the way to go. I heated a small amount of rum, put it in the crater and lit it (it needs to be heated to light easily). The picture is of another cocktail bowl. One with a mini me on it...

Sculpt & Carve Challenge

Participated in the
Sculpt & Carve Challenge

Be the First to Share


    • Make it Glow Contest

      Make it Glow Contest
    • Game Design: Student Design Challenge

      Game Design: Student Design Challenge
    • Crafts For Kids Challenge

      Crafts For Kids Challenge



    1 year ago

    +1 for using paper straws.


    1 year ago

    Fabulous!! I love how you called it a "big stupid cocktail" - made me laugh!