Monday, 23 March 2015

Working with Terracotta

                                                                        Chapter 1

Miniature Figurines    
Jam, Sauces and Pickles everywhere....

Everytime a jam bottle got over, I used to wonder what it could be used for rather than the usual way to store masalas (Indian Spices), which I have used myself and  I am sure most of our mothers and grandmothers would be doing the same when a glass bottle got empty, as it is scientifically proven that cheaper plastics react with the masalas and hence is not considered a safe way to store the spices. Again got everything cleaned up, dried and stored away.

Like most of the mothers my day too starts with making breakfast for the family, packing the lunch boxes, getting the kids ready for school, breakfast time with my husband and once he goes to office, starts “ MY CRAFTY TIME” which goes on for couple of hours until the kids are back from school.
It was during one of those CRAFTY mornings that I stumbled upon a terracotta pack that was purchased earlier. On one of my usual crafty hunts, I came across a pack of air drying terracotta in one of the leading chain of supermarkets. I had picked it up thinking I might have some use with it on a later occasion.Wanted to try out sculpting at least once. So I started out making the face first. As it started to take form, I realised that I requires quite a lot of patience and every process should be done as fast as possible, as the clay was an air drying one and once it started drying it had a tendency to become hard and would just chip off. So I tried to keep it moist enough spraying water every now and then to prevent hardening and I was pretty happy with the outcome of each feature. Once the face was over I realised that it had come out to be a miniature face and that I couldn’t make it stand upright and that it needed a base. That was when I was reminded of the tiny bottles that were cleaned and stored away . What could be better than a glass bottle with a miniature figurine on the top.  So I started working on the lid of the bottle. Smoothened the base out on the bottle lid with some more clay and yaaaay there my figurine stood upright. But when i closed the bottle it looked quite empty.
On one of the earlier craft purchases, I had bought some shells and beads and also some colourful stones and hence I tried stuffing my bottle with it. After stuffing the bottle, i have sealed the bottle with the clay and once it was dry I painted the figurine with acrylic paints. After drying use little arty glue and stick the satin ribbon/ lace around and tie a neat bow and the end result :


Sorry for not having the working stills as I forgot to take pictures of each process. But I am sure by reading the process all of you will be able to do this miniature figurine on your own.

Come along and lets try creating a MINIATURE FIGURINE.

Things you will need :
Air drying terracotta
Old Jam/ Sauce bottle washed and dried thoroughly
Beads/ Shells/ Stones for stuffing
Acrylic paints
Satin Ribbon for the bow

Take a lemon sized ball from the terracotta pack and keep the remaining pack sealed in an air tight container to prevent drying out. Knead the clay well . Pinch out three small balls approx.0.5 cms. This will be used for making the eyes and lips. Slowly start forming a face by slightly rolling the ball to form a slightly oblong shape, flattening it. Now pinch out another 1 cm clay out and start rolling to form strands of hair. Stick the strands on the head using water. Add some curls to the tip for the female figurines. Once the hair is done , let us proceed to the eyes. Flatten the small balls out and press a toothpick horizontally in the middle to show the eye lids. Now stick the eyes in place. For the eyebrows roll out two tiny balls and roll out long. Stick above the eyes. For the nose pinch out a tiny ball of clay and roll it to form a line thick on one end and thinning it to  the other end. Now stick the nose, thinner side up and thick down( this would be the nostrils) between the eyes. Make two pin-head holes using the toothpick for the nostrils. Take the remaining tiny ball for the lips. Roll such that it is a bit elongated and press it down. Pinch on both sides to give the shape of the lips. Press the toothpick horizontally between the lip to form the upper and the lower lip. Now press gently with the toothpick on the middle upperside of the lip to give it the shape of the upper lip. Pick it up gently from the work surface with a flat knife and stick under the nose. Now the face is done. Press it firmly on the bottle lid using some crafters glue and water. Now roll out a thick piece and place under the face. Merge it with the bottom of the face and the base of the bottle lid to form the neck of the figure. Smoothen it out to give a smoother look. U could add collar to the dress/ shirt at this point. Allow the figurine to dry for 24 hrs. Now fill the bottle to the brim with Beads/ Stones/Shells. Close the lid tightly on the bottle. Roll out a thick piece of clay and seal the bottle lid. Make sure you smoothen out the clay so that it looks like an extension to the dress of  the figurine. Allow to dry completely. After drying paint the features using acrylic colours. Tie a bow around to finish the look.


Here I have used an empty olives pickle bottle for the man and a Nescafe bottle for the lady. Blue pebbles are used to depict the man’s shirt. String from my son’s old water bottle is used to show the belt and brown and clear pebbles to show his pants. The lady is wearing a red and white polka dress.

Husband’s perfume bottle for the man and a jam bottle for the lady!

                                                         An Indian Couple!


School Kids

70's is back!!
                                                                      Tribal Boy


                                                        Masai Mother and Child

Let me know what you think about my work. Stay tuned for more of my art works.


  1. Hi majula, very creative. Thanks for sharing the tips. Have gone through FB page also. Very creative. Looking forward for more posts here.

  2. Thank you soo much Sowjanya Malika!

  3. Hi Manjula,
    Landed here from color deckor, you have awesome Facebook page, your home looks like a heaven!!!! Thanks for this tutorial,will try it when I find this terracotta.

  4. Hi Manjula,
    Landed here from color deckor, you have awesome Facebook page, your home looks like a heaven!!!! Thanks for this tutorial,will try it when I find this terracotta.

  5. Thank you SV for liking my works !!