Sgraffito is one of the oldest and most popular pottery decorating techniques around, having been used by countless cultures across the globe over the past few millennia. The word itself stems from the Italian term ‘graffito’, which means to draw or inscribe on a wall or any other surface (this is the same word that gave us the term ‘graffiti’!).
Essentially, the word sgraffito means to scratch and create an image or graphic on the surface of your choice, making it an ornamentation technique in which a surface layer is incised to reveal scratches of a contrasting color. If you are interested in learning how this technique is applied, and how to do it yourself, read on!
How Sgraffito is Achieved
The sgraffito technique is used very widely in the pottery world, and dates back to the times of ancient Greece; perhaps even earlier. Modern day potters use various tools to create clean lines on their creations, which can be done either with or without masking or specialized rulers. Some potters prefer to scrape their works, while others cut them, and many create customized handmade tools to get the job done. Typically, sgraffito is done when a clay piece is very stiff and as hard as leather, but not bone dry. If it is too dry, the cuts will turn out brittle and jagged, making for an unattractive finish.
Once the incisions are made on the pottery piece, potters will use a rubber-tipped air tool and a soft brush to brush and blow off the cuttings. The cut pieces will still be moist and tacky enough to stick if they are left on the surface, so they need to be removed regularly. A thin coat of wax will help to prevent lighter areas from being stained by dark cuttings during the process, and once the piece is transferred to the bisque, the wax will burn off automatically in the time it takes for you to play a few rounds of real money blackjack NZ.
How to Make Your Own Sgraffito Pottery
To create a sgraffito effect on your next pottery piece, there are a few tools you will need. They include a wire stylus tool, a miniature ribbon sculpting tool, a rubber shaper for cleaning up, and the pottery piece you will be working on. Start the project by designing a pattern on tracing paper, and then trace the pattern onto your clay with a simple lead pencil. Next, lift the tracing paper up and check that your pattern has been properly imprinted onto your clay item, and apply an underglaze or colored slip to the area.
Once you have applied your underglaze and made sure that you can still see your pattern, you can start removing the color wherever you desire using your wire stylus tool. You can create lines, cross hatching, or any other patterns you wish to use – there are many helpful tutorials on the web that break this down further.
Once you are done, remove any debris with a soft brush, touch up your underglazing if necessary and bisque fire the piece. The last step involves applying a clear glaze to the piece and allowing it to set, and once this is done, you will have completed your first sgraffito pottery piece!