These are simple modelled forms that require minimal skill to create, making them a super project to do with children. Giving the dogs colourful coats makes them look jolly and individual. Make a few to display in groups
You will need:
Paper clay; either homemade – see here – or a commercially produced variety. Earthenware or stoneware
Underglaze colours for the coat
Glaze of choice (to fit with clay type) for the body of the dog
Transparent glaze for detail
Before you begin:
It’s quite acceptable to make solid items from paper clay, especially when working on a small scale like this because of the open nature of the clay. It is also possible to make small solid things from other clays, but it is more fraught with problems because of the possibility of trapping water which can cause explosions during firing.
Begin by rolling a short coil to form the body of the dog. The thickness of the coil depends on the type of dog you want to make, so you should work accordingly. This is going to be a Dachshund, so the coil is about 20mm thick to begin with.
Picturing the shape of your chosen dog, begin to manipulate the coil to the same proportions.
Paper clay is easy to form, so bend, stretch and smooth until you get the shape you want.
It helps to think about the anatomy of the dog as you work.
Manipulate the clay downward at the rear of the dog, to form part or all of the legs, depending on how long you want them to be.
Note – you can add coils if you want to elongate the legs later.
Use a knife to split the clay that will form the legs, as shown.
Carefully model each of the split sections into two legs. It’s a bit fiddly because you’re working on such a small scale but persevere until you get them to the correct proportions.
Think about where the dog’s joints would be and bend the legs to correspond.
Lay the body on its side on the work surface, then roll two short coils into a cone shape – thinner at one end.
Flatten the fat ends of the coils by pinching them between finger and thumb.
Holding the leg in one hand, shape it as you did the back one, not forgetting the paw.
Score the position for the leg on the shoulder of the body, plus the adjoining side of the flattened section at the top of the leg itself.
Apply a small dab of slip to the scored areas.
Fix the leg in place and blend the clay in with a finger until smooth.
Repeat the exercise on the opposite side for the second front leg.
Now, carefully ease and manipulate the clay at the shoulder into a short neck.
Form a small ball of clay into a cone shape, again, picturing the shape of your dog’s head.
Score the underside of the head and the top of the neck, then apply a dab of slip.
Fix the head onto the body then blend the clay over the join until no longer visible.
Roll a small, thin coil of clay then cut off two lengths to make the ears.
Model the ears to the correct size and shape for your dog.
Fix the ears in place with a small dab of slip then blend the clay at the top of the ear only, onto the head.
Shape the end of the head to form a distinctive nose.
Roll another short, thin, conical coil to form the tail.
Cut the tail to the correct length.
Score the position for the tail on the body and the adjoining end of the tail itself.
Fix the tail onto the body with a dab of slip.
Blend the clay around the tail until the join is no longer visible.
Impress the dog’s eyes with a suitable tool – an old pen part is used here.
Draw in the line of the mouth with a pin.
Now draw in the outline of the dog’s coat – around the neck, the back end and top of each leg.
Impress a design on the surface to represent a pattern on the coat.
Draw in the details of the paws with the pin.
Allow the dog to dry out thoroughly before bisque firing.
Make more dogs in different heights and proportions – they look cute in packs!
Decorating your dog
You will need:
Velvet underglaze colours – 2 or 3 depending on how you want to decorate your dog’s coat
Glaze for the body – type to suit the clay used to make the dog, earthenware or stoneware
Beginning with your first choice of underglaze colour, paint in the coat of the dog, working around the stamped decoration. Apply three coats, allowing each to dry before applying the next.
Fill in the stamped detail with a second, contrasting colour of underglaze.
Highlight the impressed decoration with a final dot of yet another colour of underglaze.
Paint in the body with your chosen colour of glaze, applying as many coats as recommended by the manufacturer of the glaze.
Using the black glaze, paint in the eyes, nose, mouth and any other areas you want to highlight.
Allow the glaze to dry out before firing.
These little dogs were fired to cone 6 in an electric kiln.
Amaco Acai and Cacao shinos were used on the bodies.
You can see that when fired to higher temperatures, velvet underglazes develop a satin matt sheen, which forms a lovely contrast to the shinier glazed body.
This project first appeared in issue 31
For more projects, click here