Handbuilt Crystal Turtle Planter

Designer: Kaitlyn Miller



  1. Roll a slab that is at least 18” long and about 1/8” thick
  2. Compress slab with rib
  3. Inflate a balloon to about 4” in diameter
  4. Using a straight edge and your fettling knife, cut a strip of clay that is about 6” wide
  5. Place balloon down on clay strip and wrap clay around balloon while rolling until the clay makes it all the way around
  6. Mark where clay overlaps and cut off access
  7. Smoosh ends of clay together so the balloon is fully surrounded by a clay cylinder (It is best if the clay angles in a bit at the top leaving the bottom wider)
  8. Smooth seam with rib
  9. Place your clay form on an un-used piece of your slab to create the bottom of the shell
  10. Smoosh clay down onto the slab using your finger to smooth clay from the form to down to the base
  11. Use fettling knife to cut base to size creating the angular shape of the shell, first buy cutting a square and then cutting an additional plane at each corner to create an octagon
  12. Smooth edges with a damp sponge and create a wavy edge
  13. Using bottle cap, layout shell pattern by gently twisting to mark each section of the shell being sure to have an even number of circles around the shell. Shell should measure 2 bottle caps high
  14. Using a fettling knife, cut scalloped edge at the top of the shell, tracing the marks made by the bottle caps
  15. Smooth out edges with damp sponge and curve from even more over the balloon
  16. Start defining the light circular marks into more hexagonal shapes by carving into the clay with a dull pencil
  17. Allow diamond shapes to be created in between hexagons
  18. Once pattern is carved clean up surface with a damp sponge, fingers or a rib
  19. To create legs, roll a coil that is about ½” thick and cut into 4 equal pieces
  20. Tap each piece down to table to create additional thickness and bend in legs
  21. Once all legs are at the same height, slip and score to attach them to the bottom of the shell, attaching gently at first to ensure the placing is correct
  22. Roll an additional coil into a teardrop shape for the turtle’s head. Attach the thin end to the bottom of the shell by slipping and scoring and bend head upward
  23. Roll two small balls to attach for eyes, once attached push pencil tip into the center of each ball to create a pupil
  24. Create tail by attaching a small triangle of clay that peaks of from under the turtle’s shell in the back
  25. Smooth out all edges and connections with a damp sponge
  26. Let dry slowly under plastic
  27. Before clay becomes leather hard, pop the balloon and smooth the inside with a damp sponge
  28. Let dry completely
  29. Bisque fire to Cone 04


  1. Wipe bisque with a damp sponge to remove any dust
  2. Using a small round brush, apply one thick coat of Irish Luck (SC-36) to the lines in the turtle’s shell
  3. When glaze is almost dry, begin to wipe away with a damp sponge leaving the glaze only in the carved lines
  4. With a small round brush, apply 3 coats of Irish Luck (SC-36) to the top and bottom rims of the shell as well as the center diamond shapes, allowing each coat to dry completely
  5. Apply 3 coats of Tuxedo (SC-15) to the bottom and the inside of the shell, allowing each coat to dry completely
  6. Apply 3 coats of Just Froggy (SC-8) to the turtle’s legs, head, neck and tail avoiding the eyes, allow each coat to dry completely
  7. With a small round brush apply 3 coats of Jazz Notes (CG-999) to every other hexagon in the shell, allowing each coat to dry completely
    a. Be sure to shake your jar well before use to get the crystals that have settled to the bottom of the jar
  8. Apply 3 coats of Gogh Iris (CG-1001) to the unglazed hexagons in the shell, allowing each coat to dry completely
  9. Create the white of the turtle’s eyes applying 2 coats of Jazz Notes (CG-999) onto the eye balls avoiding the crystals
  10. Using a small detail liner, apply Tuxedo (SC-15) to the pupils of the eyes
  11. Allow to dry completely
  12. Fire to Cone 06


  • For the shell size, you may need to play around with bottle cap size and spacing.
  • use a rib to smooth over unintentional marks
  • Be sure to shake your jar well before use to get the crystals that have settled to the bottom of the jar
  • If you get crystals on the eyes, use the back of the brush or your finger to knock them off and apply more of the white base glaze



  • White Earthenware Clay


  • SC-15 Tuxedo
  • SC-36 Irish Luck
  • SC-27 Sour Apple
  • CG-999 Jazz Notes
  • CG-1001 Gogh Iris

Decorating Accessories

  • Bottle cap
  • Balloon
  • Rib
  • Fettling knife
  • Pencil
  • Water
  • Sponge
  • Ruler
  • Brushes for glazing