What better way to get the kids to eat their eggs than serve them in dinosaur egg cups – who could resist?
You will need:
Clay – earthenware or stoneware, preferably white for easy decorating
Wooden tools and ribs for neatening
Underglaze colours for surface decoration
Brushes and sponges for application of underglaze
Transparent glaze to fit clay type
Before you begin:
Look for some simple images of dinosaurs – you can find them easily on the internet, and silhouettes are good because the shape isn’t complicated by detail. You need guidance for the form more than anything else at the early stage of making.
It’ll help to do some simple drawings in your sketchbook to work out how the detailing might work once the basic form’s established. It is always helpful to record ideas in this way – they’re only for you, so they don’t have to be amazing drawings.
Form 55-60g (2oz) of clay into a ball and place it in one hand, then press down into the centre with a crooked thumb until you can feel some pressure in your palm.
Begin to pinch out the wall of the cup between finger and thumb, working in small steps around the shape to ensure an even thickness. Continue to pinch until the cup is large enough to hold an egg with a bit of wiggle room to allow for shrinkage in firing.
Tap the rim of the cup on the work surface to level it up as much as possible, then finish off with a surform. Don’t worry about neatening it further at this stage – the important thing is for it to be level.
Roll a short length of coil 4-5cm long and 2cm thick.
Push a short length of 5mm dowel through the centre of the coil and out the other end. You could use a pencil if you don’t have a dowel.
Holding the ends of the dowel, roll it over the work surface to enlarge the opening of the coil and form a tube.
Remove the dowel from the tube, then using the edge of a ruler, press into the clay to divide the tube into two and give the impression of legs.
Repeat on the opposite side of the tube.
Test the cup on the legs to make sure the height is correct. If the legs are too long, cut them down to a suitable height – the finished cup shouldn’t be too high because it would be hard for a child to reach, and more height equals instability.
Pinch a small ball of clay between your fingers and thumbs to form a slab 5mm thick.
Cut a disc from the slab using a cookie cutter in a suitably large size to accommodate the legs with space around them. It must be a sturdy base.
Sit the legs centrally on the disc and mark the position with a pin.
Remove the legs and score the end that will attach to the base, plus the actual position on the disc.
Neaten around the join with a wooden tool.
Make the feet for the dinosaur by rolling very short lengths of thin coil to a point at one end, as shown.
Very carefully score the ends of the toes and fix three onto the base of each leg with a dab of slip.
Bend the ends over the edge of the base slightly for a claw-like finish.
Neaten around each section with a wooden tool.
Sit the cup level on the legs, mark the underside position with a pin, then score and slip the relevant positions and fix the cup in place.
Turn the cup upside down and reinforce the join with a coil of soft clay.
Blend the coil onto the body and legs, then neaten up with a rib.
Roll a 3cm-thick coil to a cone shape – narrower at one end, as shown.
Push the dowel (or a pencil) through the centre of the cone to within 5mm of the end, then roll the fat end over the work surface to enlarge the opening and hollow the cone.
This is the tail, so place it at the back of the cup (opposite side to the toes) to determine it’s the correct length. Cut it down if it’s too long, then mark its position on the cup with a pin.
Score and slip the adjoining positions and fix the tail in place.
Reinforce around the join with a thin coil of soft clay, then blend it in with your finger or a suitable tool.
Now pinch a small ball of clay to form the main part of the dinosaur body into the shape shown.
Fix the body onto the front end of the cup as you did with other parts, after scoring and slipping.
Again, reinforce the join with a coil of soft clay and blend it in well.
Holding the egg cup in one hand, carefully extend the leg line, back and front, up to the body, using a suitable tool.
From a final ball of clay (a suitable size for the head), carefully pinch the shape you want. You may only be able to use your little finger to open out the centre of this section, but you could use a suitable tool if you find it easier.
Fix the head onto the body as you did with other parts, then reinforce and neaten the join with a wooden tool.
Form the eyes from two tiny balls of clay and fix them in place with a dab of slip.
Roll two tiny, thin coils of clay as a hood for each eye, as shown, then blend them onto the head at the upper edges only.
Make some nostril holes to allow for the release of air from the head when firing, then draw in the mouth line with a pin.
Refine the rim of the cup, using a rib to reduce it to an even thickness with rounded edges.
Roll two more short lengths of coil to form the arms.
Cut the hand end of the arms into fingers and pinch the upper end of the coil slightly to make them easier to fix onto the body.
Fix the arms in place as you did with the other parts, then blend them onto the body with your thumb.
Make two holes in the underside of the base to allow for the escape of air from the legs in firing. Repeat in any other areas like the tail and body that are self-contained.
Weigh out two 55-60g (2oz) amounts of clay and form them into balls.
Pinch each ball into a conical shape with equal dimensions at the rim so they will fit together.
Score and slip the rims of the two sections, then join them together, holding them in place for a few seconds to ensure a good seal.
Roll a coil of soft clay and blend it over the join with a finger, then neaten up with a rib to remove the lumps and bumps and any excess clay.
Make a hole in one end of the body, then paddle the surface with a wooden spatula to refine the shape.
Plug the hole up again when you have the shape you want.
Roll a coil about 20mm thick and 6cm long, to form the neck and head.
Model one end of the coil to the shape of head you need.
Now hollow the neck using a suitably shaped tool, dowel or pencil. Push the tool through the clay and wiggle it until the opening is large enough to just get a finger inside. Pinch the neck from this point until you’re happy with the shape.
Position the neck on the body and mark the place with a pin.
Score and slip the adjoining positions, then fix the neck in place. Reinforce around the join with a coil of soft clay and blend it in with a thumb.
Now form the tail following steps 19 – 20 of method 1, then fix it onto the body following the same procedure used for joining all the previous parts.
Reinforce the join as before.
Roll a length of coil 10mm thick and cut it into four equal lengths to form the legs. Don’t make them too long – 3cm is more than adequate.
Attach the legs to the underside of the dinosaur after scoring and slipping the relevant positions.
Reinforce around the join of each leg with a thin coil of clay and blend them in well with a suitable tool.
Form and attach the eyes in the same way as for the first dinosaur, attaching a thin coil of clay over the top and blending it onto the head along the upper side only.
When the eyes are finished, draw in the mouth line and form two nostrils with a pin, as before.
Now pinch the actual egg cup from another 57g of clay – again following the method shown for the first dinosaur.
Once pinched, sit the cup upside down on the back of the dinosaur and mark the position with a pin.
Cut out the hole for the cup from the back of the dinosaur.
Check that the cup will fit inside the opening. If not, shave away a little more clay from around the hole until it fits snugly.
Score and slip the inside of the cut edge on the dinosaur and outer/upper edge of the cup.
Fix the cup in place, pressing it to the edge of the body at the rim for a secure fit.
Reinforce around the join with a thin coil of soft clay.
Neaten up the join with a rib, including the interior surface of the cup.
Now surform the rim of the cup until it’s level, then smooth over the edge with your finger to soften and round it off.
Make a hole in the body in a discreet position to allow for the release of air in firing.
Allow the egg cups to dry out slowly before bisque firing.
DECORATING THE SURFACE
Paint your first choice of underglaze colour over the entire body surface of the first dinosaur, avoiding the interior of the egg cup. Repeat, to apply as many coats as recommended by the manufacturer for good block colour.
Using an open-textured, natural sponge, apply a light second colour of underglaze to contrast with the base colour. Don’t cover the entire surface, aim for a speckled effect with the base colour showing through.
Apply highlighting details with a brush and another underglaze colour. Paint in the mouth line, eyes and any other surface detail you want to add. You can use as many more colours as required.
Decorate the second eggcup in the same way, using a different set of underglaze colours.
Allow the underglaze colours to dry thoroughly before applying a transparent glaze, then fire the eggcups to the clay’s optimal temperature.
These egg cups were made from white earthenware clay. The velvet underglazes were mixed from several colours to create the base shades.
Bisque-fired to cone 04 (1060°C,1940°F) and glaze-fired to cone 05 (1046°C, 1915°F).
This project first appeared in issue 53, click here to buy
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