A Step-by-Step Guide Creating Unique Xander Kostroma Ceramic Skull Tree Decorations

Xander Kostroma Ceramic Skull Tree Decoration

When it comes to crafting unique and captivating ceramics, few potters can match the creative expertise of Sue Lavender from Lavender Ceramics. Working from her studio in Caersws, North Wales, Sue handmakes all pieces with love in the Welsh Valleys.

In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the artistic process that Sue underwent to create the ceramic tree decorations for Xander Kostroma using the brands skull logo. We uncover the meticulous steps Sue takes to transform raw clay into stunning home decor pieces that are sure to intrigue and inspire.

Preparing the Clay: The Foundation of Artistry

  1. Wedging the Clay: To ensure a flawless canvas, Sue wedges the clay, eliminating any air bubbles, guaranteeing even moisture distribution. This step is crucial for preventing cracks and deformities down the line.
  2. Achieving Uniform Thickness: Sue rolls out the clay to an even thickness of approximately 0.5cm. 
  3. Smoothing with Precision: Armed with a rubber rib, Sue painstakingly smoothens the clay slab, removing any surface imperfections.
  4. Precision Cuts: Sue proceeds to cut the clay slab into pieces measuring approximately 12cm x 12cm. These uniform pieces are arranged on a plastic-covered board and gently covered with another sheet of plastic to prevent premature drying, preserving their workability.
Xander Kostroma Ceramic Skull Tree Decoration

Creating the Skull: Bringing Art to Life

With the clay expertly prepared, Sue embarks on the process of crafting the skull decorations:


  1. Artistry Unveiled: Sue selects one of the 12cm x 12cm clay pieces and places it on a wooden board. With precision, she smooths the clay using the rubber rib, prepping the surface for the next phase - stamping.
  2. Stamping Character: In the middle of each clay piece, Sue stamps the back with 'Made in Wales'.
  3. Embossing Expertise: Flipping the clay, Sue gently smooths its surface, ensuring it's ready to receive the embossed design. With care, she positions an oiled skull embosser, using a rolling pin to transfer the intricate skull design into the clay.
  4. Crafting Details: After the embossing, the clay is covered loosely with cling film, allowing Sue to cut out the skull image, preserving every delicate detail. Each piece is then transferred to a ware board to firm up, and a hole for hanging is added.
  5. Gradual Drying: The skulls are placed on a large wooden board, weighed down with additional boards to maintain flatness, and allowed to dry slowly, reducing the risk of cracking or warping in the kiln.
Xander Kostroma Ceramic Skull Tree Decoration

Firing and Glazing: The Final Process

The final stages of the skull tree decorations involve firing and glazing, transforming these clay skulls into mesmerizing decorative pieces:


  1. Image Clarity and Edge Perfection: After the skulls have dried completely, Sue meticulously inspects each piece, ensuring the clarity of the embossed image and smoothing any rough edges.
  2. Kiln Firing: Loaded into the kiln, the skulls endure intense heat, reaching temperatures of 1000°C. This firing process ensures the clay is transformed into durable ceramic art.
  3. Glazing Elegance: Post-cooling, Sue hand-paints each skull with two coats of white glaze. This step not only enhances the visual appeal but also provides a protective, glossy finish.
  4. Final Kiln Firing: Wiping the back of each glazed skull, Sue places them back into the kiln, carefully ensuring they do not touch. The kiln's fiery embrace at 1220°C gives the pieces their final gleam.
Xander Kostroma Ceramic Skull Tree Decoration
Xander Kostroma Ceramic Skull Tree Decoration
Xander Kostroma Ceramic Skull Tree Decoration

The Finishing Touch: Hessian String, Ready to Hang-up.

Once the skulls cool down from the second firing, Sue unload's the kiln, and gives each piece a final inspection before adding hessian string on each piece making them ready for display. Prior to shipping they are then packed into a branded Xander Kostroma branded gift box and posted out to their final homes.

Sue Lavender's work is a testament to the creative potential of clay. These beautiful handcrafted skull decorations using Xander Kostroma's skull logo provide a unique, handmade piece that is sure to be the centerpiece of your home decor this season. 

Xander Kostroma Ceramic Skull Tree Decoration

Each Stage of the Making Process: Stamping to the Second Kiln Firing

Xander Kostroma Ceramic Skull Tree Decoration

The Final Design: Professionally Packaged and ready to Ship

Xander Kostroma Ceramic Skull Tree Decoration

We hope you have enjoyed reading about how we made our Ceramic Skull Tree Decorations. Please feel free to explore the collection on our website. We sell these as single pieces, as well in packs of 2, 3 and 4pcs. They are ideal for Halloween 2023, and not just that, they also look great all year around.

Thanks for reading,


Xander & Co.



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