Welcome to my tutorial on making a leaf print clay tile read the instructions below and watch me making it in my studio here
6mm thick guide sticks
leaf, grass or rush
Start by laying your mat with a guide stick on either side on a table.
Cut the clay with a cheese wire.
Start rolling out a slab of clay (I use a stoneware white body) making sure that the rolling pin stays on the guide sticks and the mat hasn’t any creases in it, don’t force the clay, but instead use a gentle but firm rolling motion, standing with your legs in a staggered position is best for this.
Roll a little bit then turn the clay over, continue rolling and turning the clay slab in all different directions, being careful not to flop the clay.
Once the slab of clay won’t roll any more you can cut your tile, you can either use a tile cutter or a template and a craft knife.
The best leaves to use in printing into clay are ones that have really pronounced veins like sage, fennel, dill, strawberry and yarrow. Place the leaf in the way you want onto the clay making sure the leaf is vein down on the clay, then roll the leaf staying always on the guide sticks.
Once the tile has been printed remove it from the mat and place it on a 10mm thick piece of plasterboard, place another plasterboard on top of the tile and let it dry to leather hard. You then have to fettle (smooth away the rough edges), you do this by using a sponge and water and smooth away. Then place a board back on top and leave the tile to dry completely before placing it in the kiln.
Fire the kiln to a bisque temp (1000 degrees). Once the kiln has cooled you can stain and glaze the tile using oxides and water or you can paint the tile, mixing the colours if you wish. Once the stain has dried get your sponge and soak it in water, then squeeze all the water out (important not to saturate the tile) and wipe away the top layer leaving the stain in the indented pattern.
The tile is then glazed with a transparent glaze, the bottom wiped and placed into the final kiln for firing to a temperature of 1260 degrees.
If you don’t have access to a kiln you can use air drying clay, wait for your tile to dry completely overnight and paint with acrylic using the same techniques of wiping away the top layer to leave the colour in the indent. To make the tile last longer and be more durable you can paint a clear varnish on top.