How to Create Vibrant Surfaces with Layered Slips and Sgraffito

Learn to create luscious sgraffitoed surfaces!


When you look at Lana Wilson’s layered slip and sgraffito surfaces for the first time, you probably find yourself wondering, “wow, how did she do that?” It isn’t immediately obvious how she creates the intense colors and intricate patterns.

Well, wonder no more! Today we are sharing a speedy version (we know you’re all busy!) of the technique. In this time-lapsed excerpt from her popular video Handbuilding with Color and Texture, you’ll discover the secret to Lana’s vibrant surfaces. Enjoy! – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.

PS. Lana demonstrates the technique in detail in her full-length video Handbuilding with Color and Texture.

The clip below is excerpted from Handbuilding with Color and Texture, which is available in the Ceramic Arts Network Shop!

Five Great Decorating Techniques

Make surfaces that stand out when you download this freebie, Five Great Decorating Techniques.

To learn more about Lana Wilson or to see more images of her work, please visit

Homemade Sgraffito Tools

by Wayne Bates

Wayne Bates' sgraffito tool

Detail of trimming tool with ferrel removed and watch-spring cutter formed to desired contour.

My sgraffito tool tips are made from the main spring of a pocket watch. The spring metal is thin and strong, doesn’t have to be sharpened and keeps the same feel as it wears away. To make the tip, cut a piece of spring, heat it with a small torch and bend it to the shape you want. A small rounded point is used for the line cutting tips, and a broader rounder tip for large cuts. Glue the tip with Elmers glue into the brass ferrel of the trimming tool and allow it to harden. Lightly heating the ferrel softens the glue and the ferrel can be removed and another tip glued into the tool. For ribs, cut them with tin snips from sheets of metal and flatten the edges, making two square edges for scraping (do not sharpen the edges). You can also cut serrated-edge ribs with the snips.

**First published in 2015.
  • Deanne L.

    Wondering if you can help…I’m trying to use slip colored with mason stains on greenware…it all flaked off during bisque! What do you think went wrong? Does the slip need to be on wet clay pieces or slabs rather than leather hard work? Thanks!

    • Barbara P.

      Read the downloadable “ceramic glazes and underglazes”. Holly’s slip is 1/3 frit 3124, 1/3 EPK and 1/3 pigment.

  • Barbara M.

    amazing technique. goes to show you that you must play and try things that seem crazy1

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