There’s more to pottery than making regular pots and vases. It’s both a craft and an art, and it gives the potter unlimited choices for adding their personal touch to turn a lump of clay into a beautiful masterpiece.
Here are just seven things you can try to make even the most mundane pot come to life.
Perhaps the most obvious technique in decorating pottery, painting with a brush involves the process of using slip – a liquid mixture of clay and water – to paint images and form patterns on the pot’s surface before it is glazed. This slip can use a mixture of pigments such as the rust-red of iron oxide to apply colour to your patterns, which contrast with the raw clay or glaze of a pot.
By using a “comb” or similar tool such as a fork, a straw brush, or traditionally a bird’s feathers, the artist is able to produce majestic lines on a piece. Combing sideways, upwards and downwards or in patterns will allow for more creative designs and create textures that enhance your pottery’s aesthetic.
Use your fingers and run them through the pot’s wet slip, exposing the bare surface, to create beautiful swipe marks on the surface of a pot. But be careful not to overdo it! Find your rhythm first and just keep going.
Some artists use a knife to carve out strips from the pot’s exterior to create amazing shapes that also might provide an easier grip compared to more rounded shapes. Expert potters also like to use a bladed object such as a razor or a coiled wire to incise patterns on the pot’s surface for aesthetic effect, a technique known as Sgraffito.
#5 Hakeme (Light Brush Stroking)
An age-old technique popular among Japanese potters, Hakeme includes using a brush to apply slip gently on the interior surface of a bowl or teapot to create an artistic brush stroke effect. This works especially well when the strokes go in one direction along the object’s rounded surface, complimenting its shape.
#6 Stamping (or Impressing)
Stamping is the process of using a creative tool to push against the interior surface of a pot to stamp an interesting pattern design on its exterior, while the pot is still leather-hard. Adept potters like to mould or fire their own clay stamps for use, and others even like to create a miniature signature clay stamp to sign their work at the bottom.
#7 Applying Wax
Wax naturally repels water-based slips and glazes, and thus can be used to create gorgeous designs on the pot surface before the pot is submerged in slip or glaze. Potters use wax to paint an image on the pot surface, and after glazing, the glaze clings to and dries on the surfaces of the pot without wax, revealing decorative patterns from that could only come from the artist’s imagination.
Want more pottery ideas for beginners?
If you’re a budding pottery enthusiast with little to no experience, pick a pottery class today! Try everything from kneading clay and putting it on the wheel to decorating your pot and prepping it for final waxing and glazing, all in a comfortable, relaxed environment.
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