First popularised during the 19th century in Straffordshire in the West Midlands of England, the process of spongeware is still a popular technique used today. In Straffordshire, the high clay content of the ground meant that the area established some of the most successful potteries in the world including Wedgwood, Dalton, and Minton. All three of these potteries exhibited the most intricate and ornate hand painted designs and spongeware can be seen as a resistance of this conformity. The technique to create spongeware is far simpler and requires less patience to create beautiful and interesting pieces. While the technique went out of vogue for some time, the revival of this technique can largely be attributed to British-born Emma Bridgewater who launcher her spongeware ceramics business in 1985.
The Spongeware Process Step-By-Step
What you’ll need to get started:
- Bisque fired pottery also known as greenware
- A few different sponges
- Silk and seawool sponges are extremely absorbent, making them perfect for stippling and concentrations of colour
- Polysponges are manmade and are also good for creating spongeware
Step-by-step spongeware technique:
- Make sure your greenware is completely clean
- Wipe down the greenware with one of your damp sponges
- If you want to keep any sections of your ceramics plain, cover these in wax resist
- Pour your desired colour glazes onto a palette and dip your damp sponge into the colour
- Press the sponge lightly to your greenware and again before reloading with colour
- If you want to work a different colour into your first colour, wait until the first has dried while enjoying NZ betting before doing so
- While you can use as many colours as you like, using just a few shades works best
Different Spongeware Effects
One of the reasons why spongeware remains popular today is that there are a variety of effects which can be created using this technique. While Emma Bridgewater is famous for her simple polka dots and star patterned spongeware, you may choose to keep it simple or create something far more complex. If you’re looking to create an intricate design, it’s a good idea to make use of cut sponges and you should look to the pottery of Nicholas Mosse for inspiration. The new lawn pattern on his spongeware takes over 2,000 prints of a leaf-shaped sponge on each piece. Cut sponges are readily available to purchase or you can create your own.
Making Your Own Cut Sponges
When creating your own cut sponges, you first need to decide on the kind of shape you would like to create. Once you’ve decided on a shape, create a template by drawing it on something like acetate and then placing the template over your new piece of sponge. The hardest part in creating your own cut sponge is the actual cutting and many potters use a soldering iron to achieve the most precise results possible. The soldering iron should easily cut the sponge, but a pair of scissors can also be used to really sharpen up the edges if necessary.