The bold black and white patterns on Sam Scott’s pots look so precise that you would think he spent hours masking off the surface. But it is really much simpler than that. In today’s post, an excerpt from our free download Five Great Ceramic Glazing Techniques, Sam explains how he makes a splash with poured-on glaze decoration.- Jennifer Harnetty, editor.
Making a Splash!
Once the piece is bisque-fired to cone 09, it’s ready to be glazed. All of my forms are smooth with uninterrupted curves, making surface decoration a bit easier. Whether I use brushwork or the pouring technique, throwing lines or variations in surface texture compete with and alter the decoration.
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The technique I use is remarkably simple. I use a small, flexible margarine container with a thin edge so I can alter its width as needed to get a wider or narrower flow. As I begin to apply the glaze, it’s a combination of pour and splash. If I touch the container to the pot, it splits the flow of glaze. If I just splash it on the piece, I am not able to control the shape as the glaze flows down the surface. The angle at which I hold the pot, the shape of the piece, the viscosity of the glaze, and the degree of impetus I give the glaze at the initial pour all factor into the shapes that develop. I also alter the angle and direction (from the rim or from the foot) of the pours to create a graphic tension on the surface. I pour from either the top or bottom in a fairly random manner to begin with. Once this area is dry, I pour from the other direction, reacting to the shapes that now exist on the surface. At this point, I can see the pattern begin to energize the surface. The size of the biomorphic shapes, the distance between the shapes, whether they touch or not, all factor into the effect. When I am finished pouring, I scrape off the inevitable small splatters with a needle tool and use an eraser to clean off any residue. Because of the fluidity of the poured shapes, I rarely alter them. If I get an edge I don’t like, I pour over that area to clean it up.
I believe the ability to realize a creative vision is proportional to your skill set. Whatever the field, watching someone with real skill is fascinating. Acquiring those skills develops a new maturity and direction to your work. In my case, the years of pouring on the glaze, as I applied it, led me to the potential and spontaneity of the patterns that are created.
Sam Scott is an artist and educator, to see more of his work, visit www.samscottpottery.com.