The Life of a Ceramic Christmas Tree

Technique of the Week — Making a Tree

When new students come into the studio and choose a tree from the shelf they usually have no idea what has gone into making that tree. Here is an 8-step Life of a Tree in photos and descriptions.

  1.  pouring the mold — liquid clay called slip is poured into a plaster mold that is held together with bands or straps. The plaster absorbs the water and leaves a clay shell (like a chocolate Easter bunny)
  2. dumping the mold — when the clay wall is about 1/4″ think the excess slip is dumped back into a bucket or tub. It usually takes from 15 to 20 minutes to set up.
  3.  wet greenware — after the clay is allowed to dry enough to hold its shape, the piece is removed to a shelf for drying. Wet greenware is dark in color.
    ready for holes — when leather hard (but not completely dry) holes for the lights can be drilled into the greenware.
    cleaning — The piece also needs to be “cleaned” when dry; that is,  the mold lines are scraped off using a cleaning tool and detail is carved back into the piece. Sometimes a green sander is used to smooth the mold lines, and then the entire piece is sponged with vinegar water.
  4.  greenware ready for firing — greenware is fired in a kiln to cone 04 before glazing. That is 1945 degrees F.
  5.  applying glaze to cone 04 bisque — painters apply three coats of green glaze, either Bottle Green or Emerald Green. Neither of these looks green when applied but both are green when fired.
  6.  checking the holes — Jim always drills out the holes again before firing to make sure they are large enough and do not contain any glaze
  7. fired glazed trees –trees are stilted in the kiln so that they do not  fuse to the shelf. The glaze is fired to cone 06 which is 1828 degrees F. As you can see, some are white and others green. You can paint trees any color that you want. You can even use a crystal glaze but must be careful about not letting the crystals flow into the holes.
  8. finished trees — after firing, the stilt marks are ground off so there are no sharp points on the bottom. Students insert plastic lights in colors of their choice. The larger trees also get a star. If you want snow and/or glitter if is applied at this point. The base is wired with a cord and socket and a light bulb is screwed in.

These photos were taken a couple of years ago. Our pouring and firing stations have changed considerably since then but the technique is the same. Please note that there are many styles of trees and they can also be painted with stains, Fashenhues, or Azure markers.

Carol’s Carousel Creations
Where having Fun is why we come!

Come on over and make a tree! Easy enough for the kids to do!



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It’s Tree Time & More

Did you miss it?

Tree Time was  last Sunday but some folks are coming tomorrow to finish up. There are some trees ready to paint on the shelf if you want to come tomorrow about 1:00.small trees park vista #2 (2)

Next Tree Time

The first Sunday in December is the 1st. If you want big trees please order ahead of time. This includes the large spruce, Nowell 342 with or without branches, Snowman Tree, and Penguin Tree.

Holly Wreath with Small Titmouse

This workshop is tomorrow from 2:00 to 5:00 for $20.00. We are set up for four but I have some extra plates if you want to come. Let me know tonight so I can glaze your plate. It is a majolica technique (underglaze over unfired glaze) and the project was designed by David Hoff. Bring your own brushes–everything else is supplied.

Holly Wreath with Small Tit Mouse

Open Classes this week Monday @ 6, Wednesday @ 10, Wednesday @ 6.

Carol’s Carousel Creations
Where having Fun is why we come!

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Call 330-219-8001 to register.

You can also make trees during regular Open Class
Monday & Wednesday 6-10, Wednesday 10-2, and Friday by appointment

Come and make your own or order one made just for you.

Click here Oh Tannenbaum to see our tree collection.

Carol’s Carousel Creations

Where having Fun is why we come!

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Technique of the Week

Technique of the Week

fashenhues easy to learn logoFashenhues Translucent Stains

Learning to use Fashenhues products is easy and fun! We firmly believe there is no right or wrong (well, almost no wrong) way to use Fashenhues products. Each of us is an artist in our own way and we each will find more success in some techniques over others. Here, we offer only a guideline for you to begin finding your own methods and techniques.

Materials needed:

  • Fired Bisque piece
  • Cut up t-shirt pieces and/or VIVA paper towels (They do not shed as much as others.)
  • Cream Basecoat and/or White Basecoat
  • S-182 Brown (Or any other color or colors you would like to use in the antiquing process.)
  • AS-1 Antiquing Solution and BL-1 Blending Media
  • Baby wipes for keeping hands clean and removing mistakes
  • Fashenhues Flat Matte Spray
  • Assorted Fashenhues Translucent Stains

Choose from any of our 48 Fashenhues Translucent Stains to paint your piece (Colors are oil based for easy application and use but are water soluble for an easy clean-up.)


Bottles should only be bottom up while you are working on a project to make it easier to see and choose colors.

(*We recommend having a flat bisque surface available to test your colors.  Colors often look very different when wiped back than when applied.)

  1. Remove all dust from the entire bisque piece with a slightly damp sponge (allow to dry completely), compressed air or soft brush.
  2. Shake and apply one coat of Cream Basecoat. Allow to dry and apply second coat (we prefer white to make it easier to see).  To read why base coat is necessary, please see FAQ page. Be careful not to use too much basecoat.  You do not want to fill all the crevices.
  3. Always shake each bottle prior to using the color to ensure thorough mixing. Start the antiquing process by placing a small amount of S-182 brown (or whichever color(s) you are using to antique) translucent pigment onto your palette.  Using a stiff brush of your choice, begin to brush color into an area about 2 or 3” in diameter. Immediately wipe back using a lint free paper towel or t-shirt like material. (Viva paper towels or old tee shirts make excellent wipe away materials.) Continue until entire piece is antiqued and wiped back.  (Most people prefer to also do the bottom or back)
  4. Decide what additional colors you would like to use and begin applying one color at a time. In order to extend the “workability” of your translucent color, try placing a small drop of BL-1, Blending Media, onto your palette. Tip your brush lightly into the media, VERY LITTLE IS NEEDED, then “swirl” it into your colors prior to applying them to your piece. This will permit your brush to move smoothly as you add color and will eliminate virtually all brush marks. Since all products are very concentrated, it’s easy to add too much media. Adding too much will prevent the color from drying. If you find that you would like to wipe back more color than your t-shirt piece will allow, you may want to place a small amount of AS-1, Antiquing Solution, in a clean cloth as you wipe back the color or use a baby wipe. Generally, the natural look can be achieved by having the most concentration of color deep into the cracks and crevices of your piece creating the effect of natural shading, and highlights or lighter hues on raised areas. Additional details can be added by using other Fashenhues products; Acrylic Stains, Metallic colors, Luminescent colors, the Pearls or by adding gold or silver Powder to the translucent colors. Try using the P-1 White, or P-2 Gold White or Gold pearl like colors over top of your translucent colors for a beautiful sheen.
  5. Seal and protect your finished piece by using Fashenhues Flat Matte. This spray is not only water resistant; it protects your piece from UV light. You can also use GG-1 Gloss Glaze for a wonderful deep look, particularly when used on eyes.

You now have a finished piece you’ll be proud to display!

Painting Tips

When painting a smooth area, for instance a sky scene, the color wipes unbelievably smooth, especially when you add a second color over the base colored sky. A good base color for a sky would be S-7, Blue Gray, or for a lighter base, S-42, Morning Glory. For a darker sky, you might use S-44, Denim as a base. When adding a second color with a cloth, the color just blends into the base sky color.

When painting flesh tones, antique with S-2, Mocha, or S-9, Gray. Load brush with Blending Media as explained, apply and wipe with t-shirt like material as you would normally do. It may be necessary to moisten your cloth with a bit of Antiquing Solution, AS-1 and lighten the antiquing color(s).

If desired, you can “set” each color with a light coat of Matte Spray to minimize the possibility of removing other colors from adjacent areas, if desired. (If you scrub hard enough, you can remove any color, sprayed or not.)


  • Monday @ 6:00 Harvest Jar make-up session & Open Class
  • Tuesday time to pour molds
  • Wednesday @ 10:00 Open Class
  • Wednesday @ 6:00 Open Class
  • Thursday Cleanup Day
  • Friday 9:00-3:00 Santa Plate with Dru
  • Saturday 9:00-3:00 Fall Platter with Larry at OCS in Ravenna
  • Sunday no class — Pinochle Club
  • Next Monday @ 6:00 Sunset Silhouettes with Dru

Carol’s Carousel Creations
Where having Fun in why we come!

If you haven’t used Fashenhues before, come and try it.
It is very messy but great for a detailed piece.

Fashenhues Certification Training Course
 offered in our studio April 19-20, 2020

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Technique of the Week

for the week of October 13, 2019

Sgraffito and Carving

is a form of decoration made by scratching through a surface to reveal a lower layer of a contrasting color, typically done in plaster or stucco on walls, or in slip on ceramics before firing.
is the act of using tools to shape something from a material by scraping away portions of that material. The technique can be applied to any material that is solid enough to hold a form even when pieces have been removed from it, and yet soft enough for portions to be scraped away with available tools.
These are very similar so we are addressing them in the same post. Potters are more familiar and more adept at these techniques than most ceramists. However, it is always refreshing to expand our horizons and learn new techniques. It is my understanding that sgraffito is scratching and carving is cutting.
In the first picture we see a plate decorated by painting on black underglaze (or colored clay) and scratching through the black to reveal the white clay underneath. The second picture is done the same way but with a lighter color underglaze which should brighten up when fired.
In this picture we see the artist carving through several layers of color with a loop tool. Each color needs to be applied in several coats in order to have enough thickness to differentiate between the layers.

Here we see a bowl and a container where sgraffito was used to create a design. Note the two colors in each piece.

In these pieces  the carving itself is the design without the addition of color. The bird was obviously carved by an artist. But the piece on the left any of us crafters could do with a little practice and patience.

These pieces were cut all the way through the clay to create an open design.

The open design in these pieces is so they can be lit up. Or you could insert potpourri or maybe have small holes to hold individual flowers or toothpicks or pencils.

carving tools 1carving tools 2

Cutouts are done with special cutting tools, some are like cookie cutters, and others are tubes or loops. Also an Exacto knife can be used. Clay must be hard enough to keep its shape but soft enough to cut through without breaking.

Whether carving or doing sgraffito, these techniques are done on greenware. The pieces are  very fragile until after they are fired.

I am a novice at doing this but am willing to have a class session where we play around with it. There is so much to learn and so much to do. We tried a little carving at the MVCT Retreat this August. Also, tried some slip trailing which will be another Technique of the Week post.

Carol’s Carousel Creations
Where having Fun in why we come!

  • Open Classes — paint whatever you want

  • Workshops — learn a new technique (classroom style)

  • Party Van Workshops — we bring it all to you

  • Etsy Stores — AfricanAmericanKids and CarolsCarouselShoppe

  • We are now a Duncan Dealer and sell paints and supplies.



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Fall Workshops 2019

  • Sunday 10/13 2:00-5:00 Azure Unicorn

Come and learn this beautiful technique using alcohol markers (left photo). It is easy enough for even the kids to do! We start with a piece that has been glazed and fired, then add color and coat with a brush-on sealer. Technique is decorative only and cannot be used on mugs or plates.  We will be decorating the faceted standing unicorn shown on the right.  Workshop fee of $20.00 includes everything you need. Seating is limited so register early. Adults who accompany children can work on something else if they choose ($5.00 studio fee + price of the bisque).
Call 330-219-8001 to register. Only 3 unicorns left so register soon.

  • Sunday, 10/20 2:00-5:00 Harvest Jar Fashenhue

Dona 234 Harvest Jar CC


Learn to use Fashenhues translucent stains to create this beautiful Fall Harvest Jar. There are four cute little squirrels with fall leaves and acorns surrounding the pumpkin. Inside is glazed so it can be used as a food container. Outside will be sealed and can be rinsed off but it is not dishwasher safe.  Workshop cost of $20 includes everything, even use of our brushes. Call 330-219-8001 to register. Only 6 pieces left.

  • Friday 10/25 9:00-3:00 David Hoff Santa Plate 9:00-3:00 Dru Woodward, Duncan Ambassador

david hoff santa plate


This all-day workshop will be taught by Duncan Ambassador, Dru Woodward. Cost is $35 + bisque. (bisque is brand new and she has ordered it directly from Duncan–will let you know the price later).

  • Monday 10/28 6:00-9:00 Sunset Silhouette
    Dru Woodward, Duncan U Class

suncset silhoette Dru


This is a Duncan University Class, taught by Duncan Ambassador Dru Woodward/  If you are a CDT you will receive credit towards your next level of certification. If you are not a CDT you will still receive a certificate.

We will use a dinner plate (11″) or a charger (13″)
Halloween silhouettes will be available
Cost is $40 which includes the ware

  • Sunday 11/3 1:00-10:00 It’s Tree Time small trees park vista #2 (2).jpg

    From mini trees that take tealights to our largest 22 1/2″ tree. Choose green or white glaze or another of your choice. OR paint yours with stains. Add snow and lights.
    Make a Baby’s First Tree and add names in letter beads or make a Princess tree for that little girl. We have trees with a cutout for a scene or paint a football logo, armed forces logo, or Grinch on the oval.
    We have the Jolly tree which lends itself to all kinds of creations — Nightmare Before Christmas, Santa tree, and much more. We have a Snowman Tree and a Penguin tree.
    Check out our website catalog Oh Tannenbaum  for pictures, sizes, and prices.

  • Sunday 11/10 Holly Wreath with Small Titmouse (Club David majolica project)

Holly Wreath with Small Tit Mouse


This is a David Hoff Brushstroke Workshop. We are using a majolica technique, which means painting with colorful underglazes over an unfired satin or matte glaze. Because the glaze needs to dry 24 hours before painting, it is important to register. We will paint our design on an 11-inch diameter coupe dinner plate, perfect for serving holiday cookies or giving as a gift. Not a kids workshop, but teens and adults are welcome.
  • Sunday, 11/24 MVCT meeting, Banding & Brushstrokes all day Duncan U class, Larry Knight, Duncan Ambassador


  • Friday 11/29 Kids Krafts & Baby Prints Black Friday Event

baby's prints WS POSTER 12-9-18


KIDS KRAFTS is a Santa’s workshop where kids can make unique gifts for family and friends while Mom & Dad go Christmas shopping. Many items can be made for just $10 and that also includes a drink & snack. Most kids can paint for about 2 hours, tweens and teens maybe for 3 hours. Toddlers can paint with Mom’s help but cannot be dropped off for the event.

BABY PRINTS is a workshop where Mom and friend paint underglaze on baby’s feet or hands and press onto a plate. It is helpful to have an extra person to hold baby for the printing and also while Mom finishes detailing the plate. (Or come back another evening without the baby). This is a unique gift for Grandma and other family members.


  • Sunday 12/1 It’s Tree Time tree-painting day

small trees park vista #2 (2)


  • Sunday 12/8 MVCT Meeting, Classical Christmas, Duncan U class, Larry Knight, Ambassador

Duncan U Dec 2019 Classical Christmas Winter Church Scene

These workshops are all EVENTS on Facebook where you can register for the classes. The MVCT workshops are EVENTS on the MVCT Facebook page. If you are interested in MVCT workshops, let me know and we will try to accommodate you. If you are NOT on Facebook, that is okay. Just send a PM or an email or a text.

Regular Open Classes will continue on
Monday and Wednesday evenings 6:00-10:00.
Wednesday mornings 10:00-2:00
and Fridays by appointment. 

Carol’s Carousel Creations
Where having Fun is why we come!

Come learn a new technique
at one of our workshops.
And bring a friend!

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Technique of the Week + Fall Events

for the week of September 29th

Azure Unicorn

open house Michael's unicorn

I took a workshop this weekend with Michael Harbridge at the Ohio Ceramic Supply Open House in Ravenna where I learned to do this technique. The design is applied with alcohol markers over a glazed surface. (You could use Dollar Store pieces but they will be decorative, not suitable for tableware). This picture is Michael’s sample.

This is the unicorn bust that I actually did. After letting it dry, it gets coated with a brush-on sealer. On the right is a faceted unicorn which is available for purchase in bisque at the ceramic supply store. The upper picture shows the piece better but the lower picture shows one done in the Azure technique.

Azure Unicorn Event

We are NOT doing the technique during regular classes this week. I have created a special Event to be held on Sunday, October 13th from 2:00 to 5:00 in our studio. Invitations were sent out to many of my “friends” but Facebook limits how many invites I can send. If you did not get one and would like to attend just send a message. We only have EIGHT pieces available right now. Since we need to share the markers I am limiting the workshop to this number. If you want to do the piece but cannot attend on this date, we can schedule another session later. Please let me know. It is important to register so that I know how many pieces to glaze for the event.

This is a good kids project. Cost is $20.00. Parents are welcome to attend and work on a different project if they want to. Open class fees are $5 plus the bisque.

Fall Harvest Box Event

Another event that is on the calendar is our Fall Harvest Box with four squirrels, fall leaves, an ear of corn, and acorns surrounding a pumpkin. The box is glazed inside to be food safe. We will be painting it with Fashenhues translucent stains. The outside will be sealed with a clear lacquer and can be rinsed off.

This event is on Sunday, October 20th from 2:00 to 5:00 here in the studio. Older children (tweens and teens) can do this project easily, as can seniors who have fine motor problems. There is little detain work and we can help you if needed. Again, I have sent invitations and you can respond OR just notify me that you are coming. We have TEN harvest jars ready to paint.

Dona 234 Harvest Jar CC.jpg

Holly Wreath with Small Titmouse Event

This is a David Hoff Brushstroke Workshop done in a majolica technique. The plate is first painted with a white satin glaze which is allowed to dry for 2r hours before painting. Therefore, we need to know ahead of time that you are coming. We will be tracing the design onto the plate, and painting with EZ stroke translucent underglazes. After firing, you can rim the plate with a band of gold (extra charge for gold and firing) and re-fire OR you may choose to use the red underglaze to rim the plate before firing. In either case, this finishes the picture by giving it a frame, Because this is glazed, you can use it to serve your favorite Christmas cookies or to give them as a gift.

Holly Wreath with Small Tit Mouse

The workshop will be held on Sunday, November 10th from 2:00 to 5:00 here in the studio. If you received an event invitation you can respond there. If not, just send me a message that you plan to attend.

Carol’s Carousel Creations
Where having Fun is why we come!

Workshops give us the opportunity to learn something new
in a class setting with step-by-step instruction.

The workshop fee always includes everything —
lesson fee, studio use, brushes, paints, bisque, and even snacks!

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