5 Easy Slab Pottery Ideas For Beginners

Throwing a pot on a wheel isn’t easy. It takes many tries to make something that looks even slightly symmetrical.

Slab pottery on the other hand is much easier to start out with because it requires no expensive pottery wheel and very few techniques.

To get started, you’ll only need:

Using air drying clay will make sure you don’t need to use a kiln to fire the clay, and other it’s cheaper than regular clay. But if you have access to a firing service, using regular clay is fine too.

So here are 5 slab pottery ideas that you can try out at home, even without prior pottery experience!

1. Decorative Leaf bowl

These beautiful bowls are easy to make for beginners and create a professional looking product. You can hold your jewelry or some pocket change in smaller ones, or create a fruit bowl out of a larger leaf.

  1. Find some leaves that you like the shape of. Search around your neighborhood for suitable sized leaves.
  2. Roll out your clay on the wax paper over a flat surface or paper. To make your leaves appear more authentic, aim for a finer thickness. About 7 mm would reduce the danger of breaking your plate.
  3. Flatten your leaf firmly onto the clay and then remove to leave an imprint on the clay.
  4. Use the tip of a sharp knife to cut along the border of the leaf, and remove the excess clay.
  5. Place your slab in a bowl to dry. Alternatively, you could keep it flat with lifelike curled edges by creating a ring with aluminum foil and curl the overlapping edges up or down.
  6. To ensure it is completely dry, let it dry for a day on one side and another day on the other side.
  7. If you want to give it a more professional finish, you can gently sand it with ultra fine sandpaper, followed by a layer of outdoor satin sealer and voila you are done!

2. Self-draining Soap Dish

This dish is somewhat similar to the first, but is slightly trickier to pull off. This time, choose a smaller leaf with a thick stem. You may want to roll out your clay thicker too to make a durable dish.

  1. Once you have cut out your leaf design, place your leaf on a flat surface but stacked on a higher level, like on a book lined with wax paper.
  2. Gently use your modelling tool to hollow out the stem as this is the drainage area for your soap dish.
  3. Taper the furrowed stem over the edge of your book ensuring it only touches wax paper and let it dry.
  4. If you have access to a bisque fire, use it for a more durable finished product.
  5. To add detail, you can paint your leaf, add some extra texture, or use a decorative glaze.
  6. Coat it with a waterproof glaze and let it dry.
  7. Fire again.

3. Textured Cell-Phone Holder Scrolls

These are useful holders to keep your phone in place while charging. They are sold on Etsy but you can try to make them yourself.

This can be a bit more difficult to make as you need to ensure that the phone fits well before you dry it, otherwise it will fall out.

  1. Roll your clay out onto wax paper, about 5 mm thick.
  2. Cut it out into a rectangle of 30 cm x 5 cm.
  3. Flatten your doily or textured material onto the rectangle.
  4. Roll either end of your scroll using a small strip of toilet paper inside it, to maintain its form.
  5. Wedge more toilet paper on either side of your rolled up scrolls so that it does not unroll while drying.
  6. Gently test if your cellphone fits in the gap.
  7. If you want to create a gift for somebody, you could carve their name into the finished product before drying.
  8. If you would like to paint it, use the same method as mentioned before and leave to dry.

4. Slab Flowerpot

This flower pot is slightly more technical as you will be using a scoring technique, but it is still a doable project for beginners and can easily be painted or decorated.

  1. Roll out your clay 1 cm thick.
  2. Cut it out a rectangle 30 cm x 5 cm in size and a circle with a diameter of 5 cm.
  3. Smooth out your clay with the sponge.
  4. Score both pieces with your pottery tool in order to join them together.
  5. Create a thin cylinder of clay the same length as the base of the pot and score it
  6. Make a slip by mixing a marble-sized wodge of clay with a bit of water. This will be the glue to stick it all together
  7. Line the pieces with a layer of slip in the places where they will meet. Place the cylinder on the circumference of the base where it has been scored.
  8. Wrap the slab around the circle.
  9. Smooth the overlapping edges of the slab to seal them and secure all areas with slip to make sure it is firmly in place.
  10. Scrunch up kitchen paper and place inside the planter in order to maintain its form as it dries.
  11. Leave it to dry.

5. Slab plate

Making a basic plate is easy, but can become progressively more difficult when you use more advanced techniques to add texture or details. You will create your own unique plates to enjoy for life.

  1. Roll out your clay 1/2 to 1 cm thickness.
  2. Use a paper plate as a template and cut the clay around its circumference.
  3. Place the slab circle inside the plate and sandwich it between a second plate and firmly press it down.
  4. Allow it to dry in the plate mold and decorate.

More ideas?

If you want more inspiration, you can follow other potters on various social media to see what they are doing. Read our article on our favorite ceramicists on Instagram.

Or if you want to throw clay by using a wheel, check out or article on the full pottery making process.

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