DIY How to smooth the surface of your clay object

Three affordable tips

DIY: How to smooth the surface of your clay object

Ceramics can be produced in several ways. You can press clay in molds, hand build or merge slabs. Depending completion or decoration it can be necessary to smooth the surface as best as possible.

If you intend to use slip on the finished form, it’s best not to smooth the surface too thoroughly. When the clay molecules are pressed too tight against each other the engobe will not attach very well.

On the other hand, if you plan to put your work in the smoke kiln, it is better if the surface is polished. The smoother the better.

Tip 1 costs nothing, after all
we use plastic cards all the time

cards transformed to kidney forms

An expired bankcard, an access card to the gym or a gift card of the perfumery: when I check my wallet I have numerous cards I all got for free and are of no use. They’re really handy to smooth the clay surface with.
Since I have plenty of cards, I have cut several in shapes for specific projects.

And another tip – not for preening, but the opposite – I cut some with pinking shears to roughen the edges. I need those when I am building with slabs.

card to smooth surface
This works better than a mirette, because you can bend the card

Tip 2 costs a little, a tool I use a lot

ceramics tip wooden bead
One of the beads has a diameter of 3,5 cm and the other one of 5 cm.

With a wooden bead you can rub the clay into a mold, thus making both the inside and the outside clean and slick.
I used thick iron wire as a handle, until I got an old-fashioned washing brush from a friend. The stem fits perfectly around one of the beads.

using a wooden bead

Tip 3 – second life for failing light bulbs

light bulbs for polishing

In the beginning of my clay days I used a spoon to polish the skin of my ceramics and hated the metal stains that emerged.
Now I use a broken light bulb (not really broken, but just not functioning of course).
I have several kinds, so there is always a lamp that fits the surface.

avoid metal stains on ceramics
These gray spots arise when polishing with metal objects

Are these helphful tips for you? Please let me know in the commentbox below.

17 thoughts on “DIY How to smooth the surface of your clay object”

  1. Thanks! I’ve been designing my own tools for years, thanks, these are great! It would be good with different shaped beads to create things like a wavy surface, or with patterned beads. I made one with a tiny watch gear, used for transferring patterns by poking thru. Great job!


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