Pottery is an art that leaves everyone in awe. The whole process of molding the clay into a beautiful shape is pretty cool. But what is more amazing is giving this molded clay the end look which is simply breathtaking. While there are many decorating techniques in pottery, Sgraffito is one of the most popular ones. Whether you want to play with colors or want to do some carving, these Sgraffito Ceramic Pottery Designs and Ideas will tell you how to enhance the beauty of your pottery.
Every exquisite piece of pottery that you see has to go through the process of molding, burning and then decorating. And of course, without decoration, your work is just a simple piece of hardened clay. But the real magic happens when you add colors and textures to it. Let us explore the world of Sgraffito, a technique that will tell you how to turn your simple work into an extraordinary one.
What is Sgraffito?
Sgraffito is all about scratching and revealing hidden layers. Well, of course, there is more than that but scratching is the basic key. Sgraffito, the word comes from the Italian word graffito, which gave us the word graffiti. And we all know the wonders of graffiti, which is an art of drawing or making inscription on the wall. So, like we said before, Sgraffito simply means scratching. Thus, Sgraffito is a decoration technique in ceramic that includes cutting away parts of a surface layer to reveal a layer of contrasting color. The name might seem daunting but don’t let that deter you from learning this amazing technique.
Techniques of Sgraffito
This is the simplest technique of Sgraffito in which you just need to apply a nice even coat of underglaze to the clay. And then using an incising tool, you need to scrape off the coat of underglaze in your desired texture to reveal the clay underneath.
Here you need to apply layers and layers of different colored underglazes over and over. Once you have applied the different coat of colors, you can start using the Sgraffito tools to carve and get a nice rainbow effect.
Now, Mishima is not a Sgraffito technique but you can say that it is kind of an advanced version of that. Why, you ask? Well because, to use Mishima in order to enhance your clay, you need to first cut away a layer of clay or carve into it. And then apply the underglaze over the design or texture so it would settle in the incised lines and wipe off the excess of it from the surface of the clay.
Tools Required for Sgraffito
Yup, if you search for Sgraffito tools online or in any craft store, you will get a set of sculpturing tools. In this set of tools you will get a wire stylus, some different types of needles for detailing and scraping.
Get a stiff but soft-bristled brush to dust the clay surface and remove crumbs to get clear lines. A set of rubber shapers would also come in handy.
For Sgraffito, you need to scrape off the layer of an underglaze only to reveal a different shade of underglaze beneath it. You will need a variety of these in different colors to make things more interesting.
Whether it is a ceramic tile or a pot you just created or simply a slab of clay you rolled out, anything would do for the Sgraffito technique as long as the clay is leather hard and not too dry yet hard enough to stay intact in its shape when you begin incising.
Get some trace paper to trace a finely detailed design on clay. Use sharp pencil like a 2B for this to get your lines clear.
Step by Step Process
The name might tell a different story but the process is actually a very soothing and relaxing one. Let’s find out how to do Sgraffito with this step by step process.
Step 1: Decide Your Design Or Texture In Advance
You don’t want to do Sgraffito on a hard as bone clay. That wouldn’t work and that entire relaxing thing that we are talking about will go right out of the window, along with your clay. Because you might just do that when you wouldn’t be able to carve in it! So don’t decide on your design or texture when you have ready clay to start with. And make sure that your clay is only leather hard.
Step 2: Trace Pattern on Clay
Using a sharp pencil like a 2B, you can carve a design or pattern directly on the clay. You can create anything, from floral or geometrical patterns to line textures, anything that seems appealing. But if your design is an elaborate one or your pattern is intricate then use trace paper to transfer that design on trace paper and then trace it on the clay.
Step 3: Apply Underglaze
Before you dip your brush and start splashing underglaze all over the clay, make sure you have got the pattern perfect on the clay. Or things could take an ugly turn. After verifying your design, apply a nice and smooth coat of underglaze, preferably 2 to 3 coats of it. You can use any color of underglaze you want or even as many colors as you want. Just make sure that the layer of gaze is not very thick. So just apply a thin layer of coat of each color or the glaze would crack.
Step 4: Scratch It Off!
Once you are sure that the underglaze has dried, you can start scratching the surface of the clay. Scratch away all the unwanted areas from the clay in either uniform or random patterns. Use a soft dry brush to remove all the crumbs and shavings. Once you are sure of the design, your clay is ready to be fired!
Step 5: A Coat of Clear Gaze
Before you put your clay in the kiln to be baked, don’t forget to apply a layer of clear glaze on the surface. That will give it a lovely sheen and make it waterproof. Once your clay has got that coat of thick clear gaze, it is ready to be burned. Know that when you take your clay out of the kiln, the colors would look different and more vibrant.
15 Different Ceramic Pottery Designs and Ideas
You can never run out of designs when it comes to making a vase. Even if the shape of the vase is the same, you can experiment with different decorating patterns.
No circle plates anymore. Get creative with ceramic plates and make them in varying shapes, sizes and patterns.
Ceramic House Planters
Planters can be creative when you are making them yourself. Create house planters with varying designs and change the whole look of your home with such ceramic pieces.
Add a little of your personality to the cups you are creating by giving them some quirky patterns and shapes. Then decorate them with your favorite quote or a simple design.
Create a cute little zoo of yours by making tiny ceramic animals. Painting them would be another fun thing to do.
Play with pastel colors to give your pots a touch of spring. With their beautiful shapes and pastel hues, these ceramic pots would take a proud place on your coffee table.
Rather than making spoon rests in a typical spoon shape, experiment with different shapes like animal-shaped spoon rest to make things more fun for your kids. Invite them to paint too and things will become more interesting.
Make some ceramic slabs to spruce up your home décor. Use Sgraffito or paint or transfer techniques to enhance your ceramic work.
Enhance the ceramic vessels by giving them a nice touch of glaze and then adding a coat of clear gaze.
Planters with Legs
Rather than giving a plain base to your planters, give them some legs to stand tall. This could be great for those tall plants you have got, adding more to the green inside your home.
Ceramic tile can be used for many decorating purposes both inside and outside the home. Some tiles with leaves carved in them would be a great idea for your backyard.
Create some cute ceramic toys for your little ones to play around with. In fact, invite the kids to create or paint them.
Bake a teapot and then paint lots of hearts on it. You can even try creating lots of simple dots in a bright color. You don’t have to be a professional to make a dot or heart! Wink!
Yes, you read that right. Well, if you can make giant spoon rests, you can definitely make some cute ceramic spoons. Just keep them simple or hell, go crazy with their curled handles. Sky is the limit when you are the one making them.
Not necessarily giant, but create trays big enough for you to give them a nice texture to jazz it up. Add some really great colors like turquoise into the mix and your pottery will be the center of attention.
You know the tools and you got some pretty designs too. All you need to do is scratch the surface using the Sgraffito technique and turn your pottery work into some fabulous pieces of art. So start now and have a happy scratching!