From clay texture rollers to pottery stamps to sprig molds, there are lots of options when it comes to adding texture to your work. And while there are lots of great commercial options out there, making your own texture tools is such a great way to put your personal stamp on your work.
Sarah Pike loves texture and creates her own clay texture rollers so that she can efficiently texture her slabs before constructing her pots. In this post, an excerpt from the Pottery Making Illustrated archives, Sarah shares how she makes these tools. They’re super quick and easy and the marks they make are fantastic! – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.
Creating Custom Clay Texture Rollers
I love texture, the way glaze breaks over it, and the feel of it when I am holding a textured pot. It’s one of the reasons I transitioned from throwing to handbuilding. I make my own stamps and clay texture rollers (figure 1), which lends an idiosyncratic, handmade, quirky appeal and imbues personality into my work.
My clay texture rollers are simply ceramic cylinders with various lines, dots, textures, or stamps pushed into them, that are then bisque fired. They are super fun, simple, and addictive to make. My stamps are more time-consuming as they are meticulously carved out of leather-hard clay with tiny trimming tools. The tricky part is deciding which areas will be positive and negative because the end imprint will be reversed. Which parts do I want raised for the glaze to break over or imprinted for the glaze to pool into?
The ceramic surface is one of the most versatile outlets for creativity. It allows you to add personal touches at any stage of the process. In Surface Decoration Techniques, more than 30 professional artists with decades of experience share a wide variety of surface projects—from carving, etching and sgraffito, to layers, inclusions, and textures!Learn more!
Transfer a slab onto cement board (such as HardieBacker® Cement Board), and roll or stamp in texture (figure 2). Cut and bend the slabs to create a variety of forms and vessels. For my teapots, I always over bend a slab to give it that bendy memory and avoid tension at the seams because slabs like to open up as they dry. For this I use a large-diameter pipe and simply drape the slab over the curve (figure 3). (Note: I use the slabs immediately, while they’re still soft. I just use the pipe to create a bend. If I were to make the curve without the pipe, the slab would collapse.) Score, slip, and compress the joins with a rib or brayer being careful not to damage the texture on the sides.
To learn more about Sarah Pike and see more images of her work, please visit www.sarahpikepottery.com.
**First published in 2017