02 April 2020

Potato Chip Bowls by Barbara Forbes-Lyons

The Tallahassee Polymer Clay Art Guild hosts an annual Chilly Clay Retreat the first weekend in February. This year’s Retreat Swap was bowls, suggested by West Coast Florida Guild member Karen Woods. These little bowls were my contribution and they are a quick, fun, and easy project. I dare you to make just one!

Potato Chip Bowls
by Barbara Forbes-Lyons



  • 2 smooth round cans, like those used for wafer cookies
  • Baking sheet
  • Plain printer paper
  • Craft glue stick
  • Washi or masking tape
  • 1-2 oz black Premo! polymer clay
  • Liquid clay or liquid clay adhesive, such as Sculpey Bake & Bond
  • Acrylic paints
  • Small oven-safe container with corn starch or baking powder
  • Basic clay tools such as a blade, knitting needle, acrylic rollers, wet wipes, etc.
  • Texture sheets – sponges, sandpapers, etc.
  • Assorted ball tip stylus
  • Rubber tipped tools like Colour Shaper or Imagine Crafts DoodleStix
  • Small stencils
  • Makeup sponges and/or stencil pouncers
  • A collection of small paintbrushes
  • Small cup of water (to wash brushes)
  • Oval cutter, approximately 2.75 – 3.0” long
  • Small cutter, any shape, ¾” across (I used a Kemper square cutter)
  • Patty Paper
  • Plastic deli wrap


Prepare the Slump Mold    
    1. Trim the printer paper to the height of the cans.

    2. Using the glue stick, adhere one edge of the paper to the can. 


   3. Wrap the paper around the can snugly, and secure with washi tape.

    4. Glue the two paper-covered cans together and place on a baking pan
       just large enough to hold them.

Create the Bowl Base 
   1. Condition your clay and roll out to the third thickest setting on your
       pasta machine. Place on a smooth plastic deli sheet.
       (If your machine is anything like mine, the sheet coming out of the

       rollers may have ridges due to loosened gears.)

                If this is the case, place a sheet of patty paper (smooth side
                down) on the clay and use your fingers or a potter’s thumb tool

                to smooth out the ridges. Use firm, even pressure but don’t press so
                hard that the clay gets thinner. 

            a. Flip the clay and repeat on the other side if necessary.


   2. Using your preferred texture tool (aquarium filter, sandpaper, etc.),
       lightly texture both sides of the clay.


            a. As an alternative, apply deeper texture to one side of the clay. 

  3. Place the clay sheet on patty paper. Cover with a smooth sheet of

      plastic deli wrap.

  4. Use the oval cutter to cut out the bowl bases. Press firmly through the deli wrap—this
      will create a nice beveled edge.

  5. Remove the deli paper and excess clay. If necessary, use a craft knife
      to clean up edges. You can also gently smooth the edges with your


 6. Place the oval on the slump mold, but at an angle so that you get an
     interesting twist in the finished piece.


7. Bake for 20 minutes at the clay manufacturer’s recommended

    temperature. Cool on the form before removing.

Adding Feet to the Bowl
  1. Take the leftover clay and recondition at the thickest setting of your pasta machine.

  2. Using the small cutter, cut out three pieces of clay.


 3. Shape each piece into a slightly conical lump.

  4. Press the lumps lightly onto a regular size acrylic roller to curve the


  5. Lay your baked bowl base over a curved item, like another acrylic
      roller. Lightly press one of the feet directly onto the curve created by
      the slump mold.


  6. Adjust the curvature of the remaining feet to match the slope of the
      other end of the base. You want the base of the feet to follow the

      curve, but the tips should be level with each other and the top of the
      tripod arrangement.

  7. Gently turn the bowl over onto a flat surface and check for level. Make

      adjustments to the foot placement as necessary. 

  8. Using Bake & Bond, glue the feet in place.

  9. Place the bowl, top down, into a container of corn starch. Bake for 35

      minutes at the manufacturer’s recommended temperature.  

10. Cool in the container, then rinse off the excess corn starch.

Simple Looped Bowl Stand
 1. Take a portion of clay and roll out into a snake, about ¼” across. Create a narrow, oval

     loop and blend the edges.

 2. Use the acrylic roller to make a channel down the center of the loop. Place the baked

     bowl base on the loop and adjust placement of it on the loop until you are satisfied.

 3. Gently remove the loop, apply Bake & Bond, and place it on the bowl.
            a. If desired, add some texture to the loop.

 4. Place the bowl on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes at the recommended
     temperature. Cool on the sheet.

Embellishing the Bowls
Now comes the fun part—embellishing the bowls! I like to use small stencils and freehand methods to add interest to my work with metallic paints. I use a variety of acrylic paints including Lumiere paints, Golden and Liquitex, and craft paints. 

You use such a small amount of paint, so a piece of patty paper makes a great palette.

Note: Silk-screening is a great way to decorate the bowls, as are Pan Pastels or mica powders. If you choose to use these methods, add them to the raw clay before you cut out and bake your base. 

Here are some tips for painting your bowls:

  • If I’m using a stencil as part of my design, I do that first so I don’t run the risk of ruining other painted sections of the bowl. 
    • Use a makeup sponge (cut down) or a stencil pouncer to dab paint through the stencil. Don’t use a paintbrush as you can push paint under the stencil and ruin the design.

  • I am not a painter, so I really prefer the control I get using Colour Shapers and Doodlestix to add squiggles, lines, and other shapes with paint.

  • Ball stylus make great dots of all sorts of sizes.

  • If you've applied a heavier texture to the bowl, you can cover the surface with paint, then wait a minute or two to remove the excess with a barely damp wipe. This method 'fills in' the texture with one color of paint and lets you add additional decoration on top.

    • I accented the texture of this bow with Golden Brand Micaceous Iron Oxide paint, then added a contrast using a stencil. 

  • Don’t forget the bottom of the bowl! You can leave it as-is, but it is fun to decorate the underside of the bowl. In the example here, paints sponged and layered on the underside of the bowl for a galaxy effect.

  • The bowl with the loop base lightly painted with copper paint. When the base was dry, I added squiggles of metallic place paint using a rubber tipped tool.

When you have finished your painting, set the paint by either baking for 5 minutes in the oven, or using a polymer-safe sealer.

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