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When you’re ready to go beyond dipping, pouring and brushing the same palette of glazes onto your work, you’ll find the alternatives to surface decoration offered here to be an excellent jumping-off point. In this collection, thirty of the most innovative and talented contemporary ceramic artists share their techniques and processes that make their work unique and expressive. Surface Decoration: Finishing Techniques covers techniques at every stage of the ceramic process. Artists discuss their working styles and tools, some provide detailed step-by-step instructions, while others discuss their successes and trials in broader terms. You’ll find information on glazes and glazing, recipes, embossing, sgraffito, brushwork, printing, patinas, roulettes, stamping, decals, stains, resists, slips, china painting, stencils, faux finishes, and more.


Softcover | 144 Pages
Order code CA57 | ISBN 978-1-57498-290-9


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Rolling Stamps

William Shinn shows you how to create repeating designs with rolling stamps. The use of stamps dates back to the early Greek potters who used small rolls of clay that had been carved on the surfaces to produce repeated patterns on their freshly thrown forms. With the increased interest in handbuilt, press-molded and extruded forms, the possibilities for texturing flat surfaces with rolling stamps on a larger scale can be more thoroughly explored.


Unearthing Beauty: Pushing the Limits of Surface

Eric Serritella heats clay and stretches it to create a texture that looks like dried parched earth. He says that he was drawn to the technique during an artist residency in Taiwan a few years ago and he’s done a lot of experimenting with it since then. He begins by throwing or handbuilding a form and often applies sand or grog to the surface and may even stamp or scratch the surface. While the clay is still wet, he heats the surface with a torch, but the heat only dries the surface. With the surface now dry, he expands the body resulting in cracks and fissures in the surface.


Scratching the Surface: A Guide to Sgraffito

Sgraffito comes from the Italian word graffito meaning “to scratch,” and Wayne Bates does more than scratch the surface with this informative tutorial on the tips and techniques of getting the best results. Using both cutting and scratching techniques, he demonstrates the finer points of line work, scraping large areas and cross-hatching. If you’re into making your own glazes, he’s provided 19 colorful engobes along with 5 recipes for various clear glazes you can try out.


I greatly appreciate editor Anderson Turner’s last sentence in his preface: “In a very real sense, knowledge is power when it comes to surface decoration.” If you have ever wanted to expand your surface decoration repertoire or wanted to explore your clay surfaces in a more conscious manner, this book is a great platform to launch that expansion and exploration. Many of the article writers (who are potters and clay artists, not merely journalists) demonstrate how they achieve a certain surface effect; several also share recipes for glazes, slips, and clay bodies. In other articles, techniques or methods may be explained, but without a detailed demonstration. Each article is well-illustrated, so that you are able to get a visual understanding of the various surface decorations presented. 
— Beth Peterson,


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In Color and Texture: Creative Bits and Pieces, break up your dry scraps then pick up the pieces. Hanna Lore Hombordy crushes various colored clay bodies and rolls them into a surface.


Ellen Currans makes beautiful Textured Slabs. She tells the story of how she got started and her experience in clothing and textiles that offered inspiration, then details her specific technique for adding textures to slabs.


David Gamble literally stumbled on his idea for getting Texture from Sewer Covers. He describes the story of his discovery and provides a detailed step-by-step process for making textured slabs into wall hangings.


Sprig molds provide a great way to decorate your work. Made from fossils, shells, found objects, or by carving, there’s no limit to getting Sprigs from Nature. Judi Munn describes the process.


Anne Floche was Inspired by Terra Sigillata and her earthenware pieces are inspirational. Terra sigillata is a very old and very simple material used by the Greeks and Romans to create burnished red-and-black wares fired at low temperatures.


Etching the surface is another way to get a great effect. Ryan McKerley uses a Wax and Water technique and Roger Graham demonstrates using wax resist and water in his Resist and Mist technique.


Russel Fouts offers his Pièce de Résistance—techniques for using resists to alter fired surfaces. He uses non-traditional water resists, hard resists, soft resists, paper resists, colored resists, pressure resists and smoke resists. Hard to resist all that!


Chris Gryder’s Surfaces from Silt are involved and time consuming and a result of the forming process. His technique is inspired by and akin to an actual physical process within the natural world which leads to fossilization.


Marcy Neiditz relies on the Transformation and Mutation of her ceramic sculpture and functional work to imbue them with attributes that give them the sense of being alive. Through multiple firings and layers of glazes, stains and oxides her artworks appear to transform into living organisms.


If you ever enjoyed looking at weathered pieces, then maybe you should be Creating a Weathered Patina. Dennis Maust provides his technique for making new work look ancient.


Billie Mitchell works at Creating Faux Surfaces by first creating realistic forms such as shoes, bags and balls, then carefully finishes the surfaces to look like the real thing.


Yoshiro Ikeda specializes in Building Complex Surfaces with Multiple Firings. He developed a process for making ceramic art that allows him to leave his work and respond to the unpredictable demands and responsibilities of a studio professor, which fits into a schedule filled with multi-tasking and short blocks of time.


Danville Chadbourne shows how you can get Indoor/Outdoor Color from both glazes and paints. He speaks of the color in his work as painting on clay and approaches the surfaces of his pieces as a painter would approach a canvas.


Philippe Faraut is known for his immaculate realism in the sculptures he produces. On unglazed works, he uses a Dust and Wax technique to finish his pieces to preserve the integrity of details and provide some degree of protection against dust and stains.


With an explosion of quick darting movements, Choi Sung-Jae creates his Expressive Slip Drawings in white slip with his fingers, frayed rope, cloth and rounded wooden sticks.


Surface Decoration: Finishing Techniques, another in the Ceramic Arts Handbook Series, could be subtitled “thirty-three ways to play with the surface of clay.” It consists of 33 essays that describe a wide range of techniques, from simply impressing and incising texture into leatherhard clay using just about anything you can think of, to more complex techniques like transferring images to clay using photosensitive plates or even transferring images to paper from a large slab of clay. A couple of the essays describe techniques that are so specialized that I can’t see them working for more than a few people, but the rest could be applied to many different styles of work. The essays are well-written and well-illustrated, so I could see how much fun it would be in a class setting, where different students would get excited by different techniques. It would also be a good reference book for beginner potters who don’t have their own techniques worked out yet or for intermediate potters who are looking for a jumping-off place. 
— Patty Osborne, Potters Guild of BC Newsletter


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Mitch Lyons’ A Marriage of Ceramics and Printmaking leads you to harmony and balance with the best of two media. Mitch brushes colored clay slip onto a 25-year old slab of clay to prepare for pulling monoprints.


Printing and Embossing with Linocuts takes a different direction with printing on clay. Paul Wandless uses his skills in printmaking to carve printing blocks and uses colored slips to transfer the images to clay instead of paper.


In another application, Paul Wandless can be found Using Stencils for Multi-Color Decoration. In this printer’s technique, he demonstrates how to make multiple stencils for creating multilayered images.


Always on the lookout for printing techniques to use in clay, Paul Wandless demonstrates Relief Printing with Photosensitive Polymer Plates. The completed hardened plates can be used to imprint the clay surface or as a relief block.


Bridget Cherie Harper takes china painting out of the traditional Victorian paint-a-rose mode and creates exotic Visual Diaries on porcelain torsos. Her work is also featured in China Paint & Overglaze.


Black on White is a decorating technique that puts a modern interpretation on a lost ancient Mimbres decorating technique. Tracy Gamble updates the materials and subject matter with her description.


Any potter or ceramic artist should always be looking for ways to think outside the box, and this book is full of ideas for doing just that, with plenty of successful finished pieces showing just how creative you can be with clay. Surface Decoration: Finishing Techniques contains articles that will benefit potters at a variety of skill levels, and will be of particular interest to teachers. You get the benefit of Pottery Making Illustrated’s how-to format combined withCeramic Monthly’s philosophy of presenting the best and most innovative ceramic work. 
— Sumi von Dassow,
Pottery Making Illustrated