How To Make Ash Tray


Materials Needed

Before you embark on making your own ash tray, it is important to gather all the necessary materials. Here is a list of items you will need:

  • Clay: Choose a clay that is suitable for pottery and can withstand high temperatures.
  • Rolling Pin: Use a rolling pin to flatten and shape the clay.
  • Cutting Tool: This can be a knife or a pottery wire cutter for trimming and cutting the clay.
  • Modeling Tools: These tools will help you create different shapes and textures on your ash tray.
  • Sandpaper: Use sandpaper with various grits to smooth the surface of the ash tray.
  • Paintbrushes: Acquire different sizes of paintbrushes for applying glaze or paint (if desired).
  • Glaze or Paint (Optional): If you wish to add color to your ash tray, choose a glaze or paint that is compatible with clay and suitable for firing.
  • Kiln: To fire the ash tray and make it durable, you will need access to a kiln for high-temperature firing.
  • Protective Gear: Ensure you have gloves, aprons, and safety glasses to protect yourself during the process.

Remember, having the right materials is crucial for a successful ash tray making experience. Make sure you have everything on the list before you begin.

Step 1: Gathering the Supplies

Before you start making your ash tray, it’s important to gather all the necessary supplies. This step will ensure that you have everything you need at hand and avoid any interruptions during the process. Here’s how you can gather your supplies:

  1. First, make a list of all the materials you will need. This includes clay, a rolling pin, a cutting tool, modeling tools, sandpaper, paintbrushes, glaze or paint (if desired), a kiln, and protective gear.
  2. Next, check your stock of supplies and see if you have everything on the list. If there are any items missing, make a note of them and plan to purchase or borrow them before you start the project.
  3. If you already have some of the supplies but they are not readily accessible, gather them and keep them in a designated area. This will save you time and effort during the actual process.
  4. Double-check the quality of your supplies. Ensure that the clay is suitable for pottery and can withstand high temperatures. Inspect your modeling tools for any signs of damage and replace them if necessary. Make sure your paintbrushes are clean and in good condition.
  5. Consider organizing your supplies in a way that is convenient for you. You can use bins, trays, or storage containers to keep everything in one place and easily accessible.
  6. Lastly, set up your workspace. Find a clean, well-lit area where you can comfortably work on your ash tray. Lay out your supplies in an organized manner, making sure you have enough space for shaping, drying, and storing the finished piece.

Gathering the supplies beforehand will save you time and energy during the actual making process. It will also help you stay focused and ensure a smoother workflow, allowing you to fully enjoy the creative experience of making your very own ash tray.

Step 2: Preparing the Clay

Once you have gathered all the necessary supplies, it’s time to prepare the clay for shaping your ash tray. Properly preparing the clay will ensure that it is at the right consistency and ready to be molded. Here’s how you can prepare the clay:

  1. Start by kneading the clay to remove any air bubbles and make it more pliable. Take a small portion of clay and press it with your palms, working it into a smooth and elastic ball. Repeat this process until the entire lump of clay has been kneaded.
  2. If the clay feels too dry, you can moisten it slightly by spraying a little water or using a damp cloth. Avoid making the clay too wet as it may become difficult to work with and shape.
  3. Once the clay is properly kneaded and at the right consistency, place it on a clean surface. Use a rolling pin to flatten the clay into a smooth and even slab. You can use guidelines or templates to ensure the slab is of the desired thickness for your ash tray.
  4. Ensure that the size of the slab is slightly larger than the intended size of your ash tray. This extra space will account for any shrinkage that occurs during the drying and firing process.
  5. During the clay preparation process, it is important to keep the clay moist and prevent it from drying out. Use a damp cloth or plastic wrap to cover the clay slab when you need to take a break or pause the project.

Preparing the clay is a crucial step in making your ash tray. It ensures that the clay is workable and ready to be shaped into the desired form. Take your time during this step, ensuring that the clay is properly kneaded and rolled out to create a smooth and even surface.

Step 3: Shaping the Ash Tray

Now that the clay is properly prepared, it’s time to start shaping your ash tray. This step allows you to unleash your creativity and give your ash tray a unique and personalized touch. Here’s how you can shape the clay into an ash tray:

  1. Decide on the shape and size of your ash tray. You can opt for a traditional round or rectangular shape, or explore more unique and unconventional designs.
  2. Using your hands or modeling tools, start shaping the clay slab into the desired form. Begin by gently pressing and molding the clay, gradually refining the shape and creating the indentation for the ash to rest in.
  3. Ensure that the base of the ash tray is stable and flat, allowing it to sit securely on surfaces without any wobbling.
  4. Pay attention to the edges and rim of the ash tray, ensuring they are smooth and free from any cracks or roughness. You can use your fingertips or modeling tools to refine the edges and add decorative details if desired.
  5. Experiment with textures and patterns on the surface of the ash tray. You can use various tools to create interesting designs or incorporate imprints from objects like leaves or fabrics.
  6. While shaping the clay, periodically check the dimensions and proportions of your ash tray, making sure it aligns with your initial vision.
  7. Take breaks if needed, especially if you’re working on intricate designs. This will help you maintain focus and make careful adjustments as you shape the clay.

Remember to enjoy the process of shaping the clay. Allow your creativity to flow and don’t be afraid to explore different forms and designs. Shaping the clay is the stage where your ash tray takes its unique shape and character.

Step 4: Adding Decorative Details (Optional)

Once you have shaped the basic form of your ash tray, you have the option to add decorative details to enhance its aesthetics and personalization. This step allows you to showcase your creativity and make your ash tray truly unique. Here’s how you can add decorative details:

  1. Consider the overall design theme or style you want for your ash tray. Whether it’s minimalistic, nature-inspired, or geometric, having a clear vision will help guide your decorative choices.
  2. Use modeling tools to create patterns and textures on the surface of the ash tray. You can make imprints with stamps, create geometric shapes, or carve intricate designs.
  3. If you want to incorporate colors into your ash tray, you have a few options. You can add colored clay by mixing different clay hues together or applying colored slip to the surface. Another option is to wait until after firing to apply glaze or paint for vibrant colors.
  4. Consider adding relief or 3D elements to your ash tray. You can attach clay embellishments such as leaves, flowers, or small sculptures that complement the overall design.
  5. Experiment with different techniques such as sgraffito (scratching through layers of colored slip to create designs), underglaze painting, or adding inlay elements to create interesting visual effects.
  6. Feel free to explore various textures and finishes. You can create a smooth and polished surface, a rough and organic texture, or experiment with glazes that produce a glossy or matte finish.
  7. Remember to periodically step back and assess the overall balance and harmony of the decorative details. It’s essential to maintain a cohesive design that complements the form of the ash tray.
  8. Be mindful of not overdoing the decorative elements. Sometimes simplicity can have a striking impact, so it’s important to know when to stop and let the design breathe.

Adding decorative details to your ash tray is an opportunity to showcase your artistic flair and create a piece that reflects your personal style. Have fun exploring different techniques and experimenting with textures and colors to make your ash tray uniquely yours.

Step 5: Drying the Ash Tray

After you have shaped and added decorative details to your ash tray, it’s time to let it dry. Properly drying the clay is crucial to avoid cracking or warping during the firing process. Here’s how you can effectively dry your ash tray:

  1. Find a clean and dry area where you can place your ash tray to dry. It’s important to avoid direct sunlight, as it can cause uneven drying and potential cracking.
  2. Gently lift the ash tray and place it on a drying surface such as a wire rack, plasterboard, or canvas. This will allow air to circulate around the clay, promoting even drying.
  3. Be patient and give your ash tray ample time to dry. The drying process can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the thickness of the clay and the humidity levels in your environment.
  4. Avoid rushing the drying process by using artificial heat sources such as a hairdryer or oven. Rapid drying can result in uneven drying, leading to cracks or deformation.
  5. During the drying process, monitor the ash tray regularly for any signs of cracks or warping. If you notice any issues, gently smooth the clay or make necessary adjustments to prevent further damage.
  6. If you live in a particularly humid environment, consider using a plastic tent or covering to create a controlled drying atmosphere. This will slow down the drying process and help prevent cracking.
  7. When the ash tray feels completely dry to the touch and there are no signs of moisture or coolness, it is ready to move on to the next step.

Properly drying your ash tray is essential for a successful firing process. Take your time and ensure that the clay is thoroughly dry before moving forward. This will help prevent any unwanted cracks or damage and ensure a high-quality finished product.

Step 6: Sanding and Smoothing the Surface

Once your ash tray is dry, it’s time to refine the surface by sanding and smoothing it. This step will give your ash tray a professional and polished finish. Here’s how you can properly sand and smooth the surface:

  1. Begin by inspecting the surface of your ash tray for any rough spots or imperfections. Gently run your fingers over the clay to identify areas that require sanding.
  2. Use fine-grit sandpaper, such as 220 or 320 grit, to sand the surface of the ash tray. Sanding in a circular or back-and-forth motion, lightly rub the sandpaper against the clay to remove roughness and create a smooth texture.
  3. Be careful not to apply too much pressure while sanding, as it may damage or deform the clay. Keep the sanding strokes light and consistent, ensuring that you cover the entire surface of the ash tray.
  4. Continue sanding until the surface feels smooth and any rough areas are eliminated. Occasionally, wipe away the clay particles with a damp cloth to ensure a clearer view of the sanded surface.
  5. After sanding with the fine-grit sandpaper, you can proceed to an even finer-grit sandpaper, such as 400 or 600 grit, for an even smoother finish. Follow the same technique of gentle strokes to further enhance the surface’s smoothness.
  6. Once satisfied with the smoothness of the ash tray, remove any remaining residue or dust by wiping it with a clean, damp cloth or sponge. This will reveal the true texture and clarity of the clay.
  7. Check the edges and corners of the ash tray for any sharp or uneven spots. Use the sandpaper to carefully smooth out these areas, ensuring a comfortable and safe handling experience.
  8. Finally, run your fingertips over the surface of the ash tray to confirm that it feels uniformly smooth. If you notice any lingering roughness, repeat the sanding process on those specific areas until you achieve the desired smoothness.

Sanding and smoothing the surface of your ash tray is an essential step in creating a refined and professional-looking final product. Take your time, be attentive to detail, and enjoy the process of transforming the clay into a beautifully smooth and tactile piece.

Step 7: Adding Finishing Touches (Optional)

Once you have sanded and smoothed the surface of your ash tray, you have the option to add finishing touches to elevate its visual appeal and uniqueness. This step allows you to add personal flair and make your ash tray truly one-of-a-kind. Here’s how you can add finishing touches:

  1. Consider the overall aesthetic of your ash tray and the desired look you want to achieve. Are you going for a minimalist design or a more intricate and detailed finish? Keep this in mind as you decide on the finishing touches.
  2. If you want to enhance the natural beauty of the clay, you can choose to leave it in its natural state. The earthy tones and textures of the clay can create a simple yet elegant look.
  3. Alternatively, you can consider applying a sealant or wax to further protect and enhance the appearance of the clay. Make sure to choose a sealant that is suitable for pottery or ceramics.
  4. If you desire a glossy or colorful finish, you can apply glaze to the surface of your ash tray. Glazes come in a variety of colors and finishes, allowing you to experiment and find the perfect look for your ash tray.
  5. Take into account any decorative details or textures you added during the shaping process. Depending on your design, you may choose to highlight or draw attention to those features by selectively applying glaze or paint.
  6. Brush the glaze onto the surface of the ash tray using a clean paintbrush. Ensure even application and take care to not apply too thick of a layer, as it may result in uneven or excessive pooling of glaze.
  7. Allow the glaze to dry completely before moving to the next step. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to determine the required drying time and temperature.
  8. If desired, you can further enhance the finish of your ash tray by adding decorative elements such as beads, crystals, or mosaic pieces. These embellishments can be adhered to the surface using a suitable adhesive.
  9. Once all the finishing touches are complete, step back and assess the overall look and feel of your ash tray. Make any necessary adjustments or touch-ups to achieve your desired result.

Adding finishing touches to your ash tray allows you to put your personal stamp on the piece. It’s an opportunity to enhance its appearance and create a visually stunning final product that reflects your style and creativity.

Step 8: Firing the Ash Tray

Now that you have completed the shaping, drying, and finishing processes, it’s time to fire your ash tray. Firing is a crucial step that transforms the clay into a hardened and durable material. Here’s how you can properly fire your ash tray:

  1. Before firing, ensure that your kiln is clean and in proper working condition. Check that the temperature controls are functioning correctly and that you have the appropriate firing accessories such as kiln shelves and stilts.
  2. Place your ash tray on a kiln shelf, making sure there is enough space between each piece to allow for even heat circulation. Avoid stacking or overcrowding the pieces, as this may affect the firing results.
  3. Follow the recommended firing temperature and schedule for the type of clay you are using. Different clays require different firing temperatures, so refer to the manufacturer’s instructions or consult with a knowledgeable pottery expert if needed.
  4. Start the firing process by gradually increasing the temperature in the kiln. This is known as the “ramp up” phase. It allows the clay to slowly heat up and eliminates any remaining moisture to prevent cracking.
  5. Once the kiln reaches the desired firing temperature, typically ranging from cone 06 to cone 10 depending on the clay, hold the temperature for the recommended amount of time to allow the clay to fully mature.
  6. After the recommended firing duration, begin the cooling process. This process is crucial to prevent thermal shock and potential cracking. Allow the kiln to cool gradually at a controlled rate.
  7. Once the kiln has cooled down to room temperature, you can safely open it and remove your ash tray. Be careful when handling the pieces, as they will be hot immediately after firing.
  8. Inspect your ash tray for any defects or irregularities that may have occurred during firing. If necessary, you can use sandpaper or a file to smooth out any rough edges or imperfections.
  9. Congratulations! Your ash tray has now undergone the firing process and is transformed into a hardened and durable piece that is ready for use.

Properly firing your ash tray is essential for achieving the desired strength and durability. Pay close attention to the firing instructions and ensure that you follow the recommended temperature and schedule to achieve successful results.

Step 9: Coloring and Glazing the Ash Tray (Optional)

At this stage, you have the option to add color and a glossy finish to your ash tray through the process of coloring and glazing. Adding color can enhance the visual appeal and create a more vibrant and personalized ash tray. Here’s how you can color and glaze your ash tray:

  1. If you want to add color to your ash tray, choose ceramic stains or oxides that are compatible with your clay and firing temperature. These can be mixed with water or a mixing medium to create the desired consistency.
  2. Before applying color, make sure the surface of your ash tray is clean and free from any dust or contaminants. Wipe it with a damp cloth to ensure a smooth and even application.
  3. Apply the color to the surface of your ash tray using a brush, sponge, or even your fingers for a more artistic effect. Experiment with different techniques and layering to achieve the desired color intensity and shading.
  4. Allow the colored clay to dry completely before proceeding to the glazing process. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to determine the drying time required for the specific coloring medium you are using.
  5. To glaze your ash tray, select a glaze that is compatible with your clay and firing temperature. You can choose from a wide range of glaze colors, finishes, and textures to achieve your desired effect.
  6. Using a clean brush, apply the glaze to the surface of your ash tray in thin, even layers. Take care to avoid any pooling or uneven distribution of the glaze, as it can affect the final appearance of your piece.
  7. Allow the glaze to dry according to the recommended drying time provided by the manufacturer. Keep in mind that the appearance of the glaze may change dramatically after firing.
  8. Once the glaze has dried, carefully load your ash tray into the kiln for the final firing. Follow the firing instructions specific to the glaze you have chosen, as the temperature and firing schedule may vary.
  9. After the firing process is complete, allow the kiln to cool down before opening it. Once cooled, remove your ash tray, and you will unveil the beautiful, colored, and glazed surface.

Coloring and glazing your ash tray is an optional step that allows you to add personalization and artistic flair to your piece. Take your time to experiment with colors, glazes, and application techniques to create a truly unique and stunning final result.

Step 10: Final Drying and Inspection

After the coloring and glazing process, your ash tray will need to undergo final drying and inspection before it is completely finished and ready to use. This step ensures that any remaining moisture is eliminated and allows you to assess the quality of your finished piece. Here’s how you can complete the final drying and inspection:

  1. Place your colored and glazed ash tray on a clean and dry surface. Ensure that it is not in contact with any moisture, as this can affect the final drying process.
  2. Allow the ash tray to air dry for a period of time, typically a few days to a week, depending on the ambient humidity. This period allows any residual moisture from the coloring and glazing process to evaporate completely.
  3. During the drying process, periodically check the ash tray for any signs of moisture or coolness. If you detect any, extend the drying time until the surface is consistently dry to the touch.
  4. Inspect the ash tray for any defects, imperfections, or flaws that may have occurred during the firing, coloring, or glazing stages. Use a fine-grit sandpaper to gently smooth out any rough edges or surface irregularities.
  5. Take a close look at the color and glaze on your ash tray. Assess the final appearance, ensuring that the colors are vibrant, the glaze is even, and there are no visible blemishes or defects detracting from the overall aesthetic.
  6. Check the overall structure and stability of the ash tray. Ensure that it is solidly constructed, without any cracks, weak points, or areas of concern. If any issues are found, consider repairing or refinishing as necessary.
  7. At this stage, you can also assess the functionality of your ash tray. Test its capacity to hold ash, make sure it sits stably on a surface, and ensure that it fulfills its intended purpose with ease.
  8. Once you are satisfied with the final appearance, quality, and functionality of your ash tray, it is now ready for use and display.

The final drying and inspection stage is important to ensure that your ash tray is fully dried, structurally sound, and visually appealing. By taking the time to carefully assess and make any necessary refinements, you can have confidence in the quality of your finished ash tray.

Step 11: Enjoying Your Homemade Ash Tray

Congratulations on completing your homemade ash tray! Now it’s time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the fruits of your creativity and craftsmanship. Here’s how you can fully embrace and make the most out of your handmade ash tray:

  1. Find the perfect spot: Choose a special place in your home where your ash tray can be displayed or easily accessed. It could be on a coffee table, a shelf, or any designated smoking area.
  2. Invite admiration: Showcase your ash tray to friends, family, and guests. Let them appreciate the beauty, craftsmanship, and uniqueness of your creation. It may even spark conversations and become a cherished conversation piece.
  3. Embrace its functionality: Put your ash tray to use! Appreciate its practical purpose by using it whenever you enjoy a smoke. It will provide a designated space for ash and help keep your surrounding area clean and tidy.
  4. Maintain its cleanliness: Regularly empty and clean your ash tray to prevent residue buildup. This will ensure its longevity, keep it looking fresh, and maintain a pleasant smoking experience.
  5. Experiment with different placements: Don’t be afraid to move your ash tray around. Explore different areas in your home where it can be enjoyed while adding aesthetic value to different spaces. Keep in mind your personal style and the overall ambiance of each room.
  6. Personalize further: If desired, you can continue to customize your ash tray by adding small trinkets, meaningful mementos, or even personal engravings. These additions will infuse your ash tray with even more sentimental value and make it truly your own.
  7. Gift it with love: Consider sharing your talent and passion for pottery by gifting a handmade ash tray to someone special. It carries the essence of your creativity and serves as a heartfelt token of appreciation.
  8. Expand your craft: Making an ash tray is just the beginning. Continue your journey through ceramics and explore other pottery projects. The skills and techniques you have acquired can open the door to even greater artistic endeavors.

By following these steps and embracing your homemade ash tray, you can truly appreciate the fulfillment and satisfaction that comes from creating something beautiful and functional with your own hands. Allow your creativity to flourish and enjoy the admiration and joy that it brings.