Combining Stamped Underglaze Decoration with Shellac Resist to Create Gorgeous Layered Surfaces

There are so many ways to decorate pottery surfaces beyond simply glazing. And when you combine decorative techniques in layers, the potential for creativity expands exponentially.

When we filmed Erin Furimsky’s video on layered ceramic surfaces, I was so excited by the techniques that Erin demonstrated, that it was actually a little bit torturous to be behind the camera. I just wanted to race to the studio and start experimenting! Today I am sharing an excerpt from Erin’s video in which she combines a shellac resist technique with stamped-on underglaze imagery. Have a look and then race to your studio to try it out! – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.


This clip was excerpted from Layered Surfaces with Erin Furimsky,
which is available in the Ceramic Arts Daily Shop.
Order your copy today!

To learn more about Erin Furimsky or see images of her finished work, please visit her website
  • Now that I have responded and look like a dummy, i went back and read the other comments and i see where others are just as interested but at a loss how to attach the pretty pattern.

    I am going to check with my local supplier for the underglaze’d pattern, at Creative Ceramics and glass in Santa Rosa.

    They have a great supply, if anyone is interested.

  • I love this technique, but i need to know how the PATTERN is applied.
    Please tell me.
    I have watched the video more than once but miss it or it is something that i don’t understand.

    Thanks for your video!

  • Care should be taken when scraping dry clay – INHALATION OF THE DUST and the shellac fumes WILL CAUSE LUNG DISEASE- use a well ventilated area – standard H & S studio practices should be observed.

    To create a 3D decorative effect build up the shellac decoration by applying several layers – and wiping away the clay using a damp sponge each time. Using this technique on very thin porcelain forms will create a translucent decoration similar to the Japanese ‘Devil ware’.

  • If she used a sharp pencil it would seem to be a better edge to hold the shellac. There is not a problem with drips if you apply the shellac in layers and wait for a short period for it to dry. It evaporates very quickly as the solvent is alchohol.

  • I have tried this technique before and it has worked really well. I agree with the other comments about doing 2 or 3 coats of the shellac, especially around the edge. I live in Australia also and have purchsed sheets of transfer paper in Melbourne (Northcote Pottery) that have patterns printed on them in underglazes, These are cut into shape, gently sponged on, then left for a few minutes before carefully peeling them away, thus leaving the transfer directly on the clay body (much like fake tatoos!)

  • I felt like I had walked in in the middle of a demo. Although I could kinda/sorta figure out what had gone before, I would have liked more about the earlier steps. Still, it was interesting and I might try to experiment with the technique.

  • sorry i am starting my comments again.


  • Sandra W.

    How toxic is shellac when it is burning away in the kiln?

  • Maria M.

    I thought the clips were very informative and love the technique it’s one of those that takes you into the “zone” where the world goes away and we are one with the clay. Very relaxing.
    As I read other comments I am they not listen nor watch. The rubber, blue, stamp is shown in the video, what is not to understand? I’ve found them in many hobby stores like Michael’s etc. I can’t understand how the color or design under the shellac would wash away..that’s the purpose of applying the shellac. And if you apply the pink glaze evenly does it matter if you paint it or spray it? So many confused negative posts …when there is so much to enjoy. I am inspired and ready to run to the studio.

  • thanks for the inspiration….no end to creativity…cant wait to get stuck in!

  • Joanne L.

    where can you get antique stamps like what she used? I have been searching all over the net and coming up with nothing!

  • Pamela L.

    I’ll bet she used a paper decal. It’s used on bone dry green ware. comes on a tissue like paper. Maybe??? that is what it looks like to me.

  • Elaine K.

    oops forgot to request to be notified of followup comments. thanks.

  • Elaine K.

    Great demo Erin, I have been mixing my own shellac with the use of orange flakes shellac. I have done many experiments and although haven’t tried the shellac on a stamped underglazed surface (i’ll try that next), I have brushed it on leather hard pieces that I have brushed slip on. I’ve found with the slip brushed on then a design drawn on then finally the shellac brushed on makes the water etching process really fun. The slip washes away from the unshellaced area and your art work is revealed! As for the jagged edges around the shellaced area with the washing away of the clay with the sponge, I’m going to try water spraying to water etch, I’m thinking that the edges will not be as ragged. I have yet to test this theory. If anyone has already done this please let me know: I’d sure like to know how it turned out.

  • Grep A.

    I’ve done something like this using acryilc medium as the resist. It’s fairly tough and it can be applied quite precisely. It doesn’t affect the underglaze and burns out cleanly. Since it’s very clear a drop of food coloring makes applying it much easier.

  • David P.

    Thanks Charles. I have used thickened shellac and it gives a nice crisp line etc and would be perfect for water engraving. Unfortunately it always lifts the underglaze off the surface after biscuit firing and ruins the work. What I am really looking for is a nice hard resist alternative to fumy hot wax and messy cold wax. I thought I had solved it when I first used shellac, but alas, no!!

  • Andrea T.

    I’ve been using this technique for a few years and have now started building and revealing more than two layers. It really is a lot of fun! One extra tip I would provide is take some of the shellac out of the can and let it thicken up by keeping this smaller batch uncovered for a day or two. Also protect your brush by dipping it in sudsing ammonia before use.

  • Subscriber T.

    HI David I am in Aus too and use flakes and mix/melt them in metho. you need to have it quite thick or put on lots of layers which is a problem. I have not tried it over under-glazes but just washed away the clay to make a relief. hope this helps

  • David P.

    I am interested to see the underglaze under the shellac. Presumably the shellac simply fires away in a similar way to wax. I have been trying to use shellac as an alternative to wax as a resist over underglazes, but have found the underglaze completely lifts of as the shellac burns away. I have been mixing my own shellac from flakes and notice that US artists (I am in Australia)seem to use pre-mixed shellac. I am wondering if there is a difference. Can anyone help me here?

  • Subscriber T.

    its very lovely thank you. i used shellac for wood surface, it shows line on wood very brightly. i learned that shellac also works on ceramic its very very nice and i would like to learn more about stamped underglaze decoration (ı think its not awailable in Turkey) and pink color pls

  • Metka S.

    great lesson, very detailed

  • Subscriber T.

    Oops, I meant to say “Great work, I love it” thanks

  • Subscriber T.

    Can anyone suggest what under-glaze was used as the under-glazes I have require 2-3 coats and if I tried this with a stamp it might not line up correctly. If the colour is thick enough this might be fine, shadow, but most cases would not require a shadow.

  • Lyn C.

    I just had a look at the page that is a link to the info on the dvd- for those curious about the underglaze application there is a great image of Erin stamping it on. These home made stamps can be carved from lino- the same as used in printing methodology

  • Lyn C.

    thank you CAD only yesterday I completed a very complex painted shellac surface of native plants in our area with a coloured clay inlay of a native bird. Great to see how another artist interprets water carving- its addictive. Looks like a great dvd- thx for sharing

  • Subscriber T.


  • Ruth S.

    Yes, it was very interesting. I had never thought about that being a way to take away clay and leave some standing higher. I had to look at her website. Very lovely work.

  • Cynthia L.

    Thanks for a great demo…

  • Tom D.

    It says in the intro that the underglaze (pink part) was stamped on. She probably used a rubber stamp with commercial underglaze.

  • Subscriber T.

    Like Kathie, I would like to know more about the technique about applying the pink design. Is it coming from rubber stamps with underglaze or glaze or something else ? Let us know more about it. Thanks for sharing.

  • Kathie L.

    I like this technique… but I would really rather see how the pink was applied… If it was painted on there… I would never add the shellac, but the painting or glazing would have taken forever… ?

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