When starting, the clay is grayish white, an pliable. We rolled out it flat, like cookie dough, and then used cookie cutters to form it into the desired shape. The class project was a pendant, and I chose to make a starfish. Before we cut the shape out, we stamped the clay with a textured rubber stamp, to impart some texture to the finished design. I later found out how important this texture can be to the finished product!
After the shape is cut out, the clay has to completely dry before being placed in the kiln. We placed the cut-out shapes on mug warmers to speed the drying process.
After drying, there is a lot of sanding, to smooth out rough edges. The piece is then fired for a short time, and then there is a lot more sanding. The piece is then dipped in liver of sulfate, to impart patina. At this time, the piece is very dark in appearance.
The piece is then polished again, which removes the patina from the surface, and leaves it embedded in the crevices of the textured surface.
That's my finished starfish pendant to the right. The texture is a little flat around the top arm of the starfish, because my big ole thumb contacted the surface during the sanding process, when I didn't realize the clay was still soft. The fingerprint ridges are hidden by the texture I stamped into the clay, which is why beginners stamp textures into the clay - to hide these boo-boos!
This was a very interesting process, with a lot of variations, and infinite possibilities. The clay itself is very pricey, and the whole process is extremely stuff-intensive, as I call it. There is so much equipment involved that start-up costs could be prohibitive. I'm scheduled to take another class, and we'll see if I fall in love with it. So far, the jury's out.