Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Making Pottery Textures/Stamps Tutorial

We all have those certain people, whether we know them or not, that we look up to and admire.  As a potter I have many such people who I follow near and far that I do not know personally.  That's the great thing Social Media has done for those of us stuck in solitary confinement..I mean our studios.. hehe  One person who's work I admire is Gary Jackson, of Fire When Ready Pottery.  His work is nearly always full of unique and gorgeous texture.  On a lazy Sunday, I spent the afternoon reading down through his blog and thought I would try my own hand at making some homemade stamps.  They're not pretty (just like my Sgraffito Tools found here), but they work.  :)  

Supplies for stamp making!
Supplies:  Hunk of clay, variety of tools/found objects to create texture, flat nonstick surface (like the pressed board bat pictured or a tile).  I've gathered a log, brushes, needle tool, sgraffito tool, fondant modeling tool, screw, and wood stamps (commonly used for fabric/batik stamping)

Scoring to join two pieces of clay
STEP 1a:  Take a hunk of clay and roll it into coils.  I made mine rather small initially, thinking of only adding a stamp/texture to one side.  Then I thought "self...why can't there be texture on both sides of the coil??"

Adding slip/water to strengthen bond
STEP 1b:  You can also roll out a slab of clay (which is what I started out doing initially and have the most pictures of).  I used these flat cut outs to carve designs/stamps that were larger than roughly 1" in
diameter.  Once the design has been imprinted, I attached one of the smaller coils to the back side to use as a handle.  
Joining two pieces of clay.
**NOTEWhen attaching one piece of clay to another, make sure that the clay is of even consistency (same amount of moisture in the clay), score each side and apply slip/water, press/twist with even pressure to create a good bond between the two clay pieces, blend the site of attachment and voila **

STEP 2:  After I rolled out several coils, I took each one and flattened out the ends.  For me, it made it easier to carve/imprint the desired texture(s).  Once flattened...then comes the fun part!

Leaf texture carved with sgraffito tool

STEP 3:  Add texture!  Carve swirls, press in the ends of brushes to create "bubbles" when the stamp is pressed into clay, hatchmarks, hearts, press clay on the bark of the log and create your own bark texture...possibilities are truly endless!

Eagle Eye!

STEP 4:  Allow to completely dry (aka bone dry) and fire in a bisque kiln.  I use a cone 6 (also denoted as ^6) clay, so I bisque it to ^04, which is just above 1900*F.


Once bisque fired, they are ready to use!  Have fun, let your mind go, and see what kind of crazy cooky textures you can come up with!!


All kinds of stamps/textures waiting to be bisque fired!

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