Clay Prints with Zahava Sherez


As a teacher and a Creative Mentor, I’m always encouraging you to Try Something New. And you know what? It’s good for me to take a dose of my own medicine! So…

On a recent “sisters” trip to California, I arranged a private class with Oakland artist Zahava Sherez. I met Zahava during my travels to Mexico last year, and was more than a bit intrigued when she described the fabric monoprints she made with clay.

[Tweet “After a day in the studio, Clay Prints on Fabric finally makes sense.”]

I knew I was never going to understand Zahava’s printing method without actually doing it myself, so my quest to learn about Clay Prints turned into a Sisters Play Day in Zahava’s studio.


Zahava did some of the heavy lifting for us by adding clay to these wooden trays. The clay (called a matrix) is essentially the print plate for this technique developed by Mitch Lyons.


All of the colors/pigments are mixed into a clay slip and applied to the matrix. It’s much like working with a thick paint, but the colors are suspended in the clay slip instead of oil or acrylic.


We used hair dryers between layers of color. The whole process was a dance to get the surface dry enough, but not too dry. And, of course, that’s a balance that comes with practice.


We transferred images from newsprint to the clay matrix for our first set of prints.


The printing process itself was quite interesting. We placed a piece of fibrous material over the matrix and got busy with our high-tech pizza rollers, misting the surfaces with a fine spritz of water as we worked.

If the surface is too dry, the colors will not transfer to the fabric. If it gets too wet, the colors bleed into one another. There’s no Where’s Waldo? in this process… More like Where’s Goldilocks? and her happy medium of Just Right!


Here I am with my very first print! The colors looked pretty muddy when everything was wet, but they became more distinct as they dried.


For the second print, I added powdered clay over the top of some stencils, then lifted the stencils off to leave a negative shape. After misting and rolling, the powders became part of the matrix, and then part of the print. Very, very cool!


Zahava suggested that we leave our clay prints to dry for a while, then spray them with Thompson’s Water Seal. While the prints looks pretty washed out now, she tells me the colors will really pop again after the sealant is added. And the sealant will bind the pigments to the base fabric.

[Tweet “An adventure into Clay Printing opens new possibilities for fabric art.”]

And then… the sky’s the limit. The fabric we used for the prints is similar in weight to Timtex, but not quite as soft. I’m anxious to give this process a try with different stabilizers from the sewing and quilting world to see how they stand up to this Clay Print process.


A special thanks to Zahava Sherez for providing a wonderful play day for me and my sisters. We had an amazing time, expanded our “fabric art” horizons, and decided that Sister Play Days will be a part of our future visits whenever possible!


Your Turn

When was the last time you scheduled an art play day for yourself? Did you do something totally new and different? Did it give you that “knock upside the head” that makes you view your own work differently?

Do tell! I love to hear about your creative adventures.



  1. Judy Immel on January 21, 2016 at 10:16 am

    WOW what a wonderful process. The prints are exciting to behold. I have done something similar using gelli prints. Lots of fun and unique fabrics for my quilts.

    • Shelly on January 22, 2016 at 9:53 am

      Gelli plates are great fun, Judy. Working with clay is similar, but I’m fascinated by the ability to layer up images on the matrix and then pick them all up at once. It’s definitely something I want to explore further.

  2. Susan Ellis on January 21, 2016 at 8:13 pm

    Thanks for a glimpse into your sister crafting time! My sisters and I get “play” time together infrequently, but it is a lot of fun when it happens. Recently, I was able to attend a fiber arts guild meeting with one of my sisters. Afterwards, I was given a bag of selvages that were wool….my vision was to attempt to weave them into mug rugs. After “getting brave” I grabbed a child’s loom, warped it up, and “TRIED” my idea. Success to the brave!!!! I turned out great and later I went to my sister’s town and showed her my project (step one, at least). Such lovely fun! There is nothing like getting an idea and trying it soon afterwards. Hope your prints are giving you ideas of how to use them….. LOL Enjoy! Susan Ellis

    • Shelly on January 22, 2016 at 9:55 am

      Thanks, Susan. We really did enjoy our studio day together. Sharon and I have done quilty things together for years, but this is the first time all 3 of us joined in the fun. If I have my way, it won’t be the last!

  3. Gurutej Kaur on January 22, 2016 at 2:25 am

    …and I thought the Gelli Plates were fabulous! Now here’s a new printing option. I love how the options are so open and ever changing in the art/creative world. Thank you for exploring and sharing with us.

    • Shelly on January 22, 2016 at 10:24 am

      This process is definitely “outside the box” for most of us in the fabric art world. As I mentioned, I couldn’t really get my head around the concept without getting myself to Zahava’s studio to actually DO it. I’m thinking it’s a good excuse to get myself to California more often!

  4. Sally West on February 1, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    Zahava is a dear friend of mine, and I, too, although not an artist by any stretch, loved her class. She was telling me this morning about the wonderful time she had with you, and I was so glad she posted this link so that I could see how your whole process unfolded! Beautiful!

    • Shelly on February 1, 2016 at 7:02 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Sally. It’s lovely to hear from another one of Zahava’s friends (and fans). I feel very blessed that Zahava and I crossed paths in Chapala, and hope that we continue to see each other in our favorite home away from home.