Figuring out what it takes to make different things on the pottery wheel can sometimes be a bit of a challenge.
On the one hand, the type of clay you’ll to use and the amount you
will need And on the other hand, what tools you need and what glazes you will be using.
After making dozens of Ring holders. I’m going to share with you how easy it really is and what you’ll need to make one of these beauties.
What Exactly Are You Going to Need to Make A Ring Holder
Can’t make the lunch until you get the ingredients.
The best way to start a project is to have everything you will be using before you start.
- 2 Pounds Throwing Clay
- A Pottery Wheel – Mine is a Brent CXC
- Wheel Bat (Optional)
- Needle Tool
- Small Rubber Rib
- Modeling Tool
- Edger (Optional)
- Decorating Tool (Optional)
- Trimming Tool
- Glazes – Amaco – Seaweed Over Black Obsidian
- Small Fan Brush
- Cookies (Optional)
- Kiln – I’m using Skutt or access to a kiln
How Big Is Our Ring Holder
An average size ring holder is about 4 inches across. When my neighbor saw the one I made, she asked if I could make one a bit bigger to fit her husband’s Big Watch and Ring.
Without hesitation I said sure. These days watches are getting bigger and fancier. Almost like a piece of art. Having something nice to place your watch on makes sense. Plus, the holder keeps the face of the watch from getting scratched.
Ring Holders come in very handy when setting your jewelry aside.
Prepare Your Clay
What type of clay will you need
For this project, I’m using porcelain 5 Cone 5. B mix is also good. B mix comes in cone 5 and cone 10. If you don’t have porcelain or B mix, any clay body on the smoother side will be fine.
The porcelain 5 is a bit firmer and less expensive than the other porcelains I have tried and doesn’t get as mushy while I’m throwing. I like using smoother clay in general. You don’t need any grog in your clay for this project because it’s not a big piece. Because of this keep in mind, the shrinkage rate of your ring holder will be higher, about 10 percent. I have also found Amaco 46 Buff Clay is a great clay to use. It’s my favorite clay. For now. But for this project, I used the porcelain 5.
How Much Clay Do You Need
For this larger sized Ring holder, you will want two pounds (2 lbs.) of clay cut into three equal parts, that’s around 10.6oz. Per clay ball.
There are several reasons for this.
- Mistakes are going to be made that’s why you want back up clay that’s been well wedged and ready to throw
- It’s much harder to wedge a small ball of clay
- You may want to make more than one Ring holder
A Throwing Bat Is Good to Have
If you don’t have a throwing bat, you’ll want one. In fact, you’ll want many because they come in so handy. Every time I use my wheel I always plan on making more than one piece.
When you’re finished with your piece, you just pop the bat off the wheel and set it aside, then start another one if you like. Which I often do.
When your piece that is still attached to your bat dries a bit, you can put it back on the Wheel and carve it or make other alterations. It’s great because the clay is still stuck to the bat, so you don’t have to center it.
Bats are very convenient to use especially when making more than one piece at a time. They don’t cost much and last a long, long time, making them well worth the investment.
Step 2 Open Your Clay and Bring Up The Sides
Reminder: Don’t forget to Wedge your clay. This is impotent for several reasons.
You want the moisture to be consistent throughout your clay. You also don’t want any air pockets. If the air pocket is big enough It can throw your clay off center because the air pocket is lighter which can make your clay lope sided and impossible to center. Your pottery could also crack in the kiln.
For more important information about air pockets in your clay check out this article, What Will Happen If There Is an Air Pocket That Goes Into The Kiln?
Small amounts of clay can sometimes be more difficult to center. It’s a bit harder to feel if the clay is centered. Make sure you don’t apply too much pressure because you can easily push your clay off center. 11 Problems Centering Clay and Easy Ways to Fix Them is a great post to check out if you struggle with centering.
Open Your Clay
Once your clay is centered, you want to open in a slightly different way.
Most of the time clay is opened in the center, but when making a Ring holder, you want to open off center.
- Wet your clay and start to open by placing your finger a half inch away from the center and push down
- Then start pressing the clay outward on your wheel
- When you get to the edge, make sure you always compress your rim
- At this point, you will want your clay to look like a little roulette wheel
- Make sure you sponge out the excess water, so the clay doesn’t get weak
- Continue pressing down and outward
- Compress the bottom with your sponge or rib
Check the Thickness of Your Clay
If you’re unsure of how much clay is on the bottom of your ring holder, you’ll want to stop the wheel and grab your needle tool to see how thick your piece is.
A little less than a half inch is good. If you plan on trimming the foot a bit more than a half inch is good. You don’t want to bottom to be too thin.
Bring Up the Sides
- Using your index fingers grab the sides and gradually push up and out.
- Make sure you compress the rim every time you raise the clay.
- Make sure to sponge up excess water from time to time, so your clay does not start to break down and get mushy.
- You will want to make a gentle slope while moving your clay upward.
- Now take a small rib to smooth out your clay
- Remember to keep your rib on a 45-degree angle, approaching straight on can make marks in the clay
Step 2 Now it’s Time to Make your Cone
- Using your two index fingers and thumbs. You want to compress around the center to ensure you don’t get any S cracks on the bottom of your Ring holder.
- Slowly start to bring up the middle as you move upward push your fingers together. Make sure you don’t press too hard.
- If the center starts to dance around your fingers, you are off center.
- All you have to do is gradually move your fingers to the center. Once the cone stops wiggling you know you’ve hit the center.
- If your cone is too long, you can take your needle tool and cut it down to the size you desire.
- It’s always better to have too much clay in the center because you can always cut the extra off.
- Now you want and compress the top of your cone.
- Remove any excess water with your sponge
- Use a rubber rib to smooth out your piece.
- Compress and smooth out your rim with your fingers.
Step 3 Trimming and Decorating
You will want to use your modeling tool to get any extra clay away from the bottom.
Take the pointy end of your modeling tool to get the extra clay off the base of your Ring holder. Make sure your modeling tool approaches the side of your base on a 45-degree angle pointing away from your holder when removing the extra clay from the bottom.
Time for Some Fun Alterations
Making a foot:
While the clay is still on the wheel, you can use an edger on the bottom of your holder if you don’t want to flip it over later and trim it. When placing the edger on the bottom of your piece, you will want to hold your edger on a 45-degree angle away from the edge to get a smooth finish. If you place your edger straight into the side, you can dig into the clay and mess up your Ring holder. Never point your edging tools against the flow of your clay.
You can put a swirl in your Ring holder with a smooth tool or even your finger depending on the impression you want to make in your clay.
Starting at the top of your cone you can press down lightly or a little harder if you wish to make a deeper pattern. Move down and outward slowly if you want the groves to be closer together or faster if you want them further apart.
You can give your Ring holder a wavy look by placing your two index fingers on the inside of the rim and your thumb in between on the outside of the rim. Then push outward with your index finger and inward with your thumb all the way around your rim. This will make a nice flower-like design. Smooth out any prints or marks that may show up on the clay.
Set Your Ring Holder A Side
The clay is a bit too wet to put any finishing touches on it at this point. You can mold the clay with your fingers, Rib, or smooth molding tool, But you shouldn’t do any kind of trimming or carving until the clay is leather hard.
If you do, you may get crumbly bits of clay flecking off and sticking to your piece.
If you wait too long the clay can get too stiff and make it more difficult to design.
I set my Ring holder aside for about 45 minutes, then check to see if the clay is ready for carving. If it’s still too soft, I’ll wait another 15 minutes and continue to do so until the clay feels firm enough to decorate.
Step 4 Taking Off the Bat
After your ring holder is Leather Hard, you will want to grab a fun decorating tool to carve a design in your ring holder.
You can carve some lines, dots, or any design you want. This is cool because the glaze pools in the grooves and makes your design pop.
Now you can take your Ring holder off your bat and see how the bottom looks. If you didn’t get all the clay off the base with your wooden modeling tool or didn’t use an edger, now is the time to trim it.
Because you have a cone in the middle and you will be flipping your Ring holder over on another piece like a mug or anything else that will fit your ring Holder upside-down. If you press your trimming tool too hard on the bottom, your piece will get marks on them.
Now It’s Time To Wait And Wait And Wait Some More
It’s very important to make sure your piece is bone dry before you put it in the kiln. If you’re unsure, I have an article on How Long Pottery Should Dry Before Firing.
It has some useful information on the importance of making sure your piece is dry.
A few students at the studio put their pieces in the kiln too soon, and their pieces exploded. That’s why after I think my ring holder is bone dry I wait a few more days just to make sure.
Living in the desert does have its advantages. My pieces can dry pretty fast. But there is another price to pay. If you’re not careful, your Pottery can dry too quickly and also cause cracking. That’s why the first few days of drying I put plastic over my pieces to ensure a slower dry process. I always use clear plastic; it makes it much easier to see my pottery.
One way I was taught to see if my clay was dry Is the cheek check. When you put the clay piece on your cheek and its room temperate it’s dry.
Now remember your cheek is not room temperature, so clay is still going to feel cool against your cheek. If it feels cold like it been in the refrigerator, your piece is not dry. Once your piece is totally dry, it’s ready to be bisque fired.
Step 5 Cleaning
You don’t want to skip this step. Before applying your glaze, you want to wipe your piece down with a damp sponge to make sure dust and other particles are off your ring holder so the glaze can bond nicely to your piece and let it dry.
Step 6 Wax Resist
Wax resist is great if you don’t want to struggle to get extra glaze off the bottom of your ring holder. Make sure you use a separate brush. You only need a thin coat.
Step 7 Glazing The First Coat
As you can see in the picture above I have the ring holder flipped upside down into a finished trimming cup I have laid off to the side. The same technique I use for trimming the bottom. This way the cone of the ring holder will have no pressure applied to it so you can trim and glaze the bottom with no problem.
Select your glaze
The glaze I’m am going to use on this piece is Amaco Seaweed
Choose your brush
I’m going to use a small Hacky brush. When using a brush, you don’t want to brush your glaze on hard. You will want it to flow it on, which decreases your chances of streaking and gets enough glaze on.
Step 8 Second Coat Of Glaze
After the glaze is totally dry, it’s time to float another coat on the inside and outside of your ring holder.
Step 9 Third Coat Of Glaze
When the second coat is totally dry apply one more coat all over. If your ring holder is still cool to the touch, wait until it’s room temperature before applying the third coat inside and out.
Step 10 Glazing The Top
After your ring holder is totally dry, drizzle some glaze on top. I’m using Amaco Obsidian. I love the way the colors play with each other to give it a stunning look.
Make sure there is no glaze on the bottom and it’s totally dry before it goes in the kiln for the final firing. I am firing to cone 5.
When finished glazing the glaze on your ring holder should be as thick as a t-shirt. Any thicker and she may start to run.
Check out some of these Glazes you may like. They work great for me.
Now The Ring Holder is Ready For The Final Firing
The final firing takes 12 to 13 hours with a 15-minute hold when it reaches peak temperature. It may take longer depending upon how long it takes the kiln to heat up and cool down.
I like to put cookies under my pieces just in case my glaze runs it wouldn’t ruin the kiln shelf.
Kiln shelves are not cheap. Check out How To Protect Your Kiln Shelf From Melting Glaze for more information and suggestions on protecting kiln shelves.
Enjoy Your New Ring Holder
Ring holders are convenient to use in your bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, or all three. I have a Ring holder in every room including my closet. They come in so handy. They make great gifts for both men and women. You can use them to hold your rings, watches, or bracelets. You can even use them for hair ties or rubber bands.
POTTERY CRAFTERS THOUGHTS… Making a Ring holder is easier than it looks, and with a little practice, you can make the exact same thing.
Remember mistakes are called practice,
Keep making that beautiful pottery.
UPDATE: Here is a New Video of me Making a Ring Holder all the way to the finished piece.