Add texture and character to your pottery with carving and etching. The following are just tips, not a step-by-step process.
- Don’t just eyeball lines around your piece. Put your piece on the wheel and lightly use a rubber tip or needle tool to make a perfect line around you can follow (don’t go too deep!)
- Do it with confidence! If you’re worried that you’ll mess up, you will! Carve lines and chunks out of your piece with confidence with everything you do. Just trust me with this and go for it!
- Keep your eye on your end marks. Don’t watch where your knife or carving tool currently is, watch the spot you’re trying to end up at.
- Don’t go too thin. It’s easy with certain carving tools to dig so deep that you break through to the other side or end up with tiny cracks after firing. Always be aware of how deep you’re carving.
- Don’t carve wet underglaze. If you’re doing sgraffito, your underglaze needs to be fairly dry. If you etch it too wet, you’ll get chunks and flakes coming off of it.
Think of the glaze you want to use. Some glaze breaks when it hits texture and changes color, darkness, etc. Think about how you want your final piece to look once it’s glazed.
- Also think about the thickness of your glaze. If you’re using an opaque, matte, or thick glaze, it will cover up and hide a lot of your hard work once fired. Maybe a glaze isn’t even the right decoration. Learn about all your options!
- Use a dust brush to clean up chads. Chads are the little flakes and balls that form while you’re carving, sticking to your clay. Don’t wipe them or pick at them. Use a dust brush whenever possible to not affect your finished piece.
- Watch the rim! If you’re carving a mug or bowl, think about people’s mouths and whether or not they will be comfortable on the rim. Carving usually makes for an uncomfortable experience or… a dribble vessel!