DIY clay bowls: easy to make and fun to give

DIY clay bowls take just minutes to make and decorate, which means you can create a bunch and keep them on hand. Paired with simple add-ons like incense, jewelry, candles, or plants they make thoughtful gifts with a sweet, personal touch. Follow these simple directions to make two different kinds of bowls. 

DIY Clay Gift vessels with different gifts and Hallmark cards |

How to make DIY clay bowls


  • oven-bake clay (like Sculpey)
  • acrylic craft paint
  • stiff toothbrush
  • craft knife
  • ruler
  • clay blending tool (or you can use your fingers)
  • a variety of small glass bowls
  • rolling pin
  • sheet pan
  • baking parchment


Make a bunch in several sizes and stash them in your gift closet.

supplies for DIY Clay Gifts |

Prepare your clay

If needed, follow the package instructions to condition your clay.

Once you’ve warmed up the clay, make a ball and flatten it with a rolling pin on a piece of parchment. Roll to about 1/4″ thick.

hands rolling out a circle of clay with a rolling pin |

Option 1: Make flat bowls with shallow sides

To make a base, place a glass bowl upside down on the clay and trace around the edge with a craft knife.

Hands cutting out a circle from a flat piece of clay, tracing a glass bowl that is upside down |

To make an oblong-shaped bowl, use the craft knife to trace the same bowl a few inches apart and use a ruler to connect the sides. Or use bowls to create the rounded ends and freehand the sides.

Using an xacto to cut strips of clay |

To make the sides, use the ruler to cut a strip long enough to wrap around the base.

wrapping a strip of clay around the edge of the cut circle of clay |

Wrap the side piece around the base and use the craft knife to cut off any overlap.

Use the blending tool or your fingers to smooth the seams together on the inside, side, and bottom.

using a clay blender to smooth inside crease of clay vessel |

Pro tip

If you’d like to make your vessel more leak-proof, roll a thin, skinny snake of clay with your fingers and press into the inside seam. Blend it down into the base and up into the wall.

using a clay blender to smooth bottom crease of clay vessel |

Preheat your oven according to the package directions for the clay.

Place the bowls on parchment paper on a sheet pan and bake according to instructions.

Pro tip

Make a foil tent to cover the pieces—this will help make sure the pieces don’t brown or burn from the heat.

placing clay vessel on a baking sheet |

Option 1: Make shallow bowls

Trace an oven-safe glass bowl with a craft knife.

Press the circle of clay into the bowl.

Use the craft knife to level the sides, if needed. Smooth the edges with your fingers or the blending tool.

Place the bowl with the clay inside on a baking sheet lined with parchment, and bake according to directions above for five minutes. 

After five minutes, remove the bowl from the oven and allow to cool enough to touch. Run a craft knife between the clay and the bowl to release it.

Place your clay bowl back on the parchment-covered tray and bake for the remaining time (according to package instructions).

A toothbrush being used to splatter paint onto the vessel |

How to spatter-paint your DIY clay bowls

Use water to dilute a small amount of paint.

Dip the tips of the toothbrush into the paint, and practice your spatter technique in a piece of paper, holding the brush a little above the paper:

  • Hold the toothbrush close to the bristles and use your thumb to spray the paint.
  • Try pointing the bristles down and tap the back of the brush.
  • To make bigger dots, tap the very tip of the toothbrush directly on the clay.

The goal is to make dots of different sizes instead of streaks—so practice until you get the right ratio of water to paint.

A toothbrush being used to splatter paint onto the vessel |

Pro tip

Be sure to keep dipping your toothbrush into the water and paint mix. Keeping the brush wet is part of the trick of spatter painting.

Painted DIY Clay Gifts |

You can paint the DIY clay bowls before or after you bake them.

  • Paint before baking if you don’t want to wait for it to dry.
  • Paint after baking if you want to see how what color the clay is when it dries. You might want to give the bare clay a base coat—just make sure it’s completely cool before painting.

DIY Clay Gifts, brown and white vessels on blue background |

Pro tips

  • If you plan to use your DIY clay bowl as a planter, poke a hole in the bottom before baking.
  • Use sandpaper after baking to smooth out any rough patches.

DIY Clay Gifts palo santo sticks wrapped in a clay dish |

Use a little bakers twine to add a gift tag and a little something extra. The gifting opportunities are endless (And don’t forget the card.)

Want an even easier way to make DIY clay bowls? Try these pinch pots with Crayola Air-Dry Clay.

We’d love to see what you make! Take a picture, post it on Instagram, and tag @think.make.share.

Note: Don’t use dishes made of Sculpey or another polymer clay for burning incense or palo or for serving food.


Leave a Comment

  1. 3.31.20 | Reply
    Jamie wrote:

    Definitely making some of these this weekend! Gonna do some as small planters for the windowsill garden I’m starting, and a larger one for my coffee table!

  2. 4.29.20 | Reply

    I like small flower pots. I will try making some clay pots.

  3. 9.21.20 | Reply
    Bhumi wrote:

    Is this food safe?

    • 1.7.21 | Reply
      Kelly C. wrote:

      It is not food safe! Don’t use dishes made of Sculpey or another polymer clay for burning incense or palo or for serving food.

  4. 10.1.20 | Reply

    Thank you for the free tutorial. I like it.

  5. 11.23.20 | Reply
    Agnes Harding wrote:

    This is such a good idea. I made a bunch for my family for Christmas.

  6. 3.9.21 | Reply

    I love your tutorials. thankyou for quality content.

  7. 3.12.21 | Reply
    Josephine Saunders wrote:

    Great ideas thank you so much .