26 Tiny Bowls

Not long ago I posted a photo of some tiny bowls I had made for an upcoming swap on my Facebook page. I promised to post a description of how they were made here.

bowls side view

The only guideline we were given was to form the bowls over an #A15 appliance light bulb (about 2 inches in diameter) so they could be stacked one inside another. I decided I would use kaleidoscope designs, but I didn’t have a cane large enough to produce enough slices for all the bowls, so I had to start by making a Master Cane. I made a bunch of individual component canes, took slices off the tops, and put the slices together to make a “plan” for the master cane.

master cane plan 8inAfter the Master Cane was built and reduced, I cut it into slices to use for the bowls. I tested different thicknesses of clay and settled on 3/32 inch (one and one-half revolutions of my slicer knob). At this thickness the bowls held their shape but still looked and felt delicate.

Next I made a series of one-of-a-kind kaleidoscope designs. They were 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Here is an example:

kaleid on work surface 8inI then made several cardboard sleeves to hold the light bulbs upright.

bulb in sleeve 8 inAfter that I lifted each clay circle and positioned it so it was centered over the center of a light bulb.

clay placed on light bulb 8inThe next step was the trickiest part of the project. I had to mold the clay sheet to fit against the light bulb. Because the circumference of the clay circle was greater than the circumference of the light bulb I had to “shrink” the outer edges of the clay. That meant pressing the clay together bit by bit around the entire circumference of the light bulb. I began by “tacking” the clay down in three equally spaced locations to ensure that the design would be spread symmetrically around the light bulb.

three points down side view 8 intop view three points down 8 in

I repeated this in three additional spots.

six points down 8 inFinally, I gently pushed the clay between the “tacked down” spots together until the clay followed the contours of the light bulb.  Once the entire sheet of clay was pressed against the bulb I rolled an acrylic rod over the surface to fuse the joints and press out any air bubbles.

rolling over joints 8 inThe edges were a bit uneven when I was done, so I trimmed off small bits with a blade until they were straight. The last step was to press the bottom of the bowl against my work surface to produce a flat base to keep the bowl level.

When several bowls were ready I baked them for about 40 minutes in my convection oven.  After they had cooled down I carefully slipped a curved wax-carving spatula between the perimeter of the bowl and the bulb to loosen the bowl. Once loosened, the bowls popped right off. They are about 2 inches in diameter and 5/8 inch deep

loosening baked bowl 8 in

The insides of the bowls picked up the glassy surface of the bulbs but the rims and outsides were a bit rough so I sanded them until they were smooth. Here are 25 of the 26 bowls.

25 bowls

What a fun project! If I were to do this again (without the constraints of the swap) I would use a larger bulb so the sides would flare out more to make it easier to see the complete design in the interior of the bowl.

This entry was posted in Cane Slicer, Caning, How To, Kaleidoscopes, Premo Clay, Technique. Bookmark the permalink.

61 Responses to 26 Tiny Bowls

  1. Judy Johnson says:

    Your canes are beautiful and so are your bowls!

  2. Alison Wilcox says:

    These really are fantastic.

  3. Oh, these are flat-out beautiful.
    Love this, thanks for the tute.

  4. Myra Katz says:

    So generous of you to share…thanks bunches!

  5. Barbara P-W says:

    Those are lovely bowls! Thanks so much for sharing your tips!

  6. Alabala bijoux says:

    Very nice project, Carol! Beautiful colours, as usual:)

  7. Gail katz says:

    Are you selling them? They are adorable.

  8. Pingback: Making miniature polymer clay bowls. | Linda's Art Spot

  9. Lawrence Smith says:

    Carol, these are stunning and your canes are amazing.

  10. Donna Baratta says:

    Carol, These mini bowls are simply gorgeous. The way you make colors sing is always so magical. Every pattern would make a beautiful pendant. Thank you, as always for sharing with us!

  11. Laura Lang says:

    Thank you for writing this tutorial and sharing it with PC lovers. Your kaleidoscope canes are always gorgeous!

  12. Pingback: Tutorial: Tiny Bowls – Polymer Clay

  13. joan says:

    Can someone explain to me the relationship between the master cane slices and the kaleidoscope circles? Sorry, I am new to polymer clay but am loving it!

  14. ladymcbuyck says:

    c’est vraiment superbe , j’adore ce kaléidoscope de couleurs.bravo et merci de nous partager votre tuto.

  15. laura says:

    did you baked with the bulb?

  16. Beryl Kelly says:

    Beautiful work, patterns and colours are fantastic, I have a stack of Fimo but never get the time to sit down to it, busy with doll/materials. Having seen your work I am inspired to get it out. I would love to follow your work for inspiration in colours and patterns f that is okay.
    I want to make fairies and fantasy

  17. GG says:

    Your little bowls are so pretty. I love the colors too. Thanks for sharjng.

  18. Denise Goodenough says:

    Did you bake the clay on the light bulb? I’m new at using polymer clay. I have made a few bowls with my grand daughter using pyrex mixing bowls. Your bowls are just beautiful.

    • Carol Simmons says:

      Yes. You have to loosen them carefully after they are cool.

      • Mia says:

        These are so very beautiful! I’m new at this clay thing and
        I also wondered if it’s possible to put the “bulb”? “Lamp” inside the oven!? I probably will set all the neighborhood on fire but I must must try to make something similar if I can! Thanks for sharing these inspiring and incredibly wonderful thingys
        / Mia

  19. Judy Peters says:

    Your bowls are delightful…thank you for sharing…

  20. Elizabeth says:

    I like craft but Your is gorgeous .

  21. Monica says:

    Thank you Carol for the tutorial!!
    The colors you used made each cane harmonize.
    This group of siblings that cannot be mistaken as to who the originator is.

  22. Angela says:

    The little bowls are so gorgeous. I would like to know if they are food safe.

  23. abqmona says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! You are a genius! I’m just starting to experiment with polymer clay and am excited to try this. Thanks!

  24. Julie says:

    Fantastic work, thanks for the idea of pinning down in three places first, as my pattern goes all over the place when I just press down.

  25. Linda Tabler says:

    Did you bake these after molding them, etc.?

  26. Joey B says:

    Carol, thanks for this little tutorial. You are a generous and talented woman, and I appreciate you!


  27. Maggie says:

    These are just gorgeous! With the bulb in the oven, did you lay the bulb on it’s side? Assuming the cardboard stand wasn’t also in the oven, but maybe it was? Thanks in advance. I can’t wait to try it!

    • Carol Simmons says:

      Thank you Maggie! The cardboard does go in the oven. The temperature (275 F) is way too low to burn paper or cardboard.

  28. Ava says:

    This is so neat! How long did you heat the clay + lightbulb in the oven? More importantly, did you remove the metal piece and filament before placing the lightbulb in the oven?


  29. Rasha Bahgat says:

    I like your work, excellent. Please advise if it is dangerous to use the oven for polymar and for cooking too???

    • Carol Simmons says:

      If you bake your clay frequently, you should do it in a different oven if possible. Oil from the clay builds up on the inside of the oven. It is messy and unhealthy. If you must use your oven, put your clay in a pan with a tent of aluminum foil over itso no fumes get out.

  30. JEROME says:

    quel bonheur pour la debutante que je suis de voir cela ,j’ai hate d’essayer un jour quand j’aurai plus de technique,merci beaucoup pour tout !!!!

  31. .Marina says:

    I love your bowls . You Put the bulbs in the oven ? I am principiant un this art. Thanks

  32. Fiona says:

    Hi Carol, I’m new to polymer clay work and just came across your page.
    Just wanted to say how beautiful your work is. I bought the clay and couldn’t
    decide what to try. Now I do. 🙂

  33. Fiona says:

    Hi Carol, I’m new to polymer clay work and just came across your page.
    Just wanted to say how beautiful your work is. I bought the clay and couldn’t
    decide what to try. The bowls are so lovely

  34. Jennifer Warren says:

    These tiny little bowls are so freaking adorable, I can hardly stand it! ⭐️❤️

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