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Considerations for Carving Clay: How to Create Beautiful Carved Decoration on Your Pottery
Posted By Jennifer Harnetty On October 3, 2011 @ 8:21 am In Carving Tools,Daily,Features | 4 Comments
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 the second edition of 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.
To make the scalloped rim on my dinnerware pieces, I first cut through the leather-hard rim with a fine-blade knife. I soften the cut edge by compressing a damp sponge between my fingers and repeatedly run it over the edge of the rim. The result is a refined edge that is still adequately thick for durability.
My homemade carving tool was modeled after a tool used to create carved patterns on Chinese Yaoware pottery. The L-shaped blade, set in a bamboo handle, is used to create a pleated pattern of lines that will catch pooling glaze.
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