|Carving into a clay surface can be very gratifying, but when you’re making pieces for use, you need to be make sure that the carving accentuates the function and doesn’t hinder it. It’s easy to get carried away and end up with a piece that doesn’t function as well as it could. Being attentive to a few basic design considerations will help you keep your clay carving appropriate to the form.
In today’s post, an excerpt from our free download Ceramic Carving Tool Techniques: Bringing the Ceramic Surface to Life, potter Emily Reason shares her secrets for getting her clay carving just right. Jennifer Harnetty, editor.
Considerations for Carving
Know When to Say When
It’s important that my carved and slip trailed surfaces don’t deter from the function of the piece. My dinnerware design has a scalloped service rim that is carved. The food surface itself has no texture and a glossy glaze for easy cleaning. It’s easy to get carried away with making texture, so I try to leave quiet areas on each piece where there is none.
I use a homemade carving tool, which was modeled after a tool used to create carved patterns on Chinese Yaoware pottery (see page 49). The L-shaped blade, set in a bamboo handle, is used to create a pleated pattern of lines. For me, carving lines is a rhythmic motion that achieves even, consistent marks. The corner of the L, carves into the leather-hard clay, making the deepest part of the recessed line. The tool is effective in achieving a line with depth, allowing the glaze to vary as it pools in the deepest part of the line.
The dinnerware I make is pretty labor intensive, so I have to price it accordingly. My customer demographic for it tends to be folks with disposable income. They also seem to be people with knowledge of and an appreciation for fine handmade craft.
I’m still learning as I go about marketing strategies for selling my work. I know for certain that professional quality photographs are where good marketing begins.
Emily Reason lives and works in Marshall, North Carolina. To see more of her work, visit www.emilyreason.com.