Small figurines made of clay can be turned into works of art when done properly. A collection of figurines or objects in a series are a study in creating fine detail through working with ceramics. All ceramics begin as pieces of clay. They are shaped or molded and then fired in a kiln. Once fired, they are decorated with paints or stains and glazed. While they can be left in the original condition after the first firing, many ceramic pieces are decorated, glazed and fired a second time. This gives them a finished appearance and gives the artist a chance to add more colors.
Making any collection of art objects takes a great deal of time. Ceramics requires an artist to understand several basic steps. Shaping the clay is the first step. Sometimes this is done by hand. The clay used for this process is thicker and will stay in shape easily when it has been formed. Once the finished product is achieved, the artist will let the clay dry. Firing it in the kiln is the next step, and this is generally done at a commercial kiln. The artist does not necessarily need to know how to fire a clay kiln as the operator will take care of that task.
For artists who will do many figurines of the same size and shape, using molds may be the best way to achieve their work. They will have to either buy or create a mold. Once they have a mold, they must pour in clay that has been made into slurry by adding water. It will take a longer time to dry, but the artist does not need to form their pieces by hand. Once the piece comes out of the mold, the artist must sand off the rough edges and allow the piece to completely dry for kiln firing.
Decorating a figurine is the next skill the artist must have to complete their piece. It takes skill to paint the figurine exactly as needed for the right look. The artist must have brush skills as well as knowledge of what glaze will work best for their piece. After they have completed the painting and glazing, the piece must again be fired in a kiln before it is complete.