Big Ceramic Store Blog

Barn Swallows For The Wall

Living out in the country, Barn Swallows are a very common sight. Watching them swoop down to the pond for a drink, or up into the rafters of my barn, have become one of my favorite pastimes.

Sitting on the porch the other day, watching them flutter around then swoop down for bugs and drinks, I thought... "Why not bring some of that enjoyment into the studio?"

So, I devised a plan, searched the web for some pictures, and got to work! Wanna see what I came up with? Well grab your coffee and follow me out to the studio!

For starters, I can sketch fairly well, but it takes me a while to get it just the way I want it, and I get frustrated when I'm in "go mode" and ready to start a project.

How do I remedy that? I find an image on the computer that will suit the purpose, print it off, and go from there. Here is the image I found for this project...


Once you've found an image and printed it out, roll a slab of clay to trace it onto and cut out. I rolled mine roughly 1/8" thick since I want it to bend a bit when it's fired.

Trace the image with a stylus or pen to impress the design onto the clay, then cut it out with a needle tool.



After you've cut out the body of the bird, you'll need to add a hanger to the back of it for mounting on the wall. There are several ways to do this, but the easiest way I've found, is to just cut out a circle disc of clay and put a triangle in the middle that a nail or screw can slide into.


Place the disc in the palm of your hand and make it concave with a damp finger.

Score/slip both the disc and the back of the bird body and firmly attach



Now that you have your bird ready for hanging, decide if you want to decorate it or leave it natural. I chose to underglaze the surface and leave the back white.


There is no need to bisque then glaze fire the bird... it will only be hanging on the wall so it doesn't need to be food safe. You can always spray it with a clear sealant once it's fired to help keep dust from sticking to it.

When you set the piece off to dry, be sure to support the head so it doesn't curve back to the wall. You want the head and neck to appear in motion.



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