Sunday, 2 September 2012

How to Make Pottery Stamps and Seals

The weather can make all the difference to making pots. Today has been damp and drizzly and the air feels colder too, which makes drying times much longer. The jugs I threw yesterday were too damp to turn and the handles I was making for them too soft to attach. So while I waited for both jugs and handles to dry out and stiffen, I decided to make some pottery stamps.

Pottery stamps are so easy to make. The easiest method is to take a piece of clay and roll it into a ball. Flatten one side of the ball to give yourself a ‘stamp’ area, and then use wooden sticks, metal tools or any type of utensil to carve or impress designs into the clay. This is best done while the clay is on its way to becoming leatherhard, but can be done to soft clay too if you make confident marks.

Alternatively, make a cylinder shape and impress your design right around the cylinder (but not the ends). This type of stamp is called a roulette. They work by holding them at the flat ends and rolling them like a wheel into soft clay to create a continuous repeat pattern. Both types of stamp must be left to dry out thoroughly before bisque firing in the kiln. This will make them hard enough to use again and again, and as long as you look after them (and don’t drop them!) they should last years.

This is exactly the method I used to make my own pottery seal. For the first few years of making pots I used to carve my initials into bases by hand. This is time consuming however and can sometimes look scratchy, so I decided to design my own seal. At first I got distracted by the idea of having a metal seal especially made: but this seemed an unnecessary expense and not personal enough. So instead I played around with some designs before settling on my initials made using a simple handmade clay seal. As you can see in the photo above, these have been bisque fired and feature my initials in reverse. They’re both the same design but one of them is indented and the other is in relief, which gives me the option of having an ‘outward’ or ‘inward’ stamp. I’ve been using them for about five years now and all my work is stamped using them: even the smallest buttons!

Anyway, eventually the jugs and handles dried out enough for me to finish them…

No comments:

Post a Comment