Since discovering hand carving, I tend not to use commercial stamps in my work very often, but I do like pattern stamps. Once in a while, I get an idea of how to use them in an interesting way and I’d like to share one of my ideas today.
I’ve been continuing my love/hate relationship with my pottery wheel (now back on after watching The Great British Pottery Throw down) and a while back I made some mugs. They are very wobbly and I’m sure one day I will look back on them with horror, but at the moment I love them. They’re made from buff clay and decorated with a sprig from my own mould.
I really like how the sprig part of the design came out, so I decided to scale it down to use on beads.
They’re quite simple to make, although a little fiddly at this size, and you only need basic tools to create them, a skewer and a scalpel.
To start, you need some outline images. I used shapes that I designed for screen printing on to raku tiles and scaled them down to the right size for fitting on to beads. These were then printed out.
And cut out…
|Cut in to templates|
I took some buff coloured stoneware clay and rolled it to around 2mm thick. I discovered this type of clay is very weak when it’s so thin and it tore as I tried to lift it, but it doesn’t have to be neat, just flat!
Gently stamp a pattern on to the clay.
And place your cut out on to the pattern.
|Placing the template|
Using a scalpel carefully cut around the paper outline.
|Trimming the design|
Using the same clay, I made up some bead blanks that were larger than the paper cut outs and pierced them with a skewer from side to side for stringing holes.
Wet the bead with water or slip and carefully lift the cut out clay on to the bead and gently press it down to stick. I lift using the scalpel as the thin clay is really delicate.
|Placing the design on the bead|
Then with a paintbrush, smooth around the edge of the design taking care not to wipe over the pattern.
|Cleaning up the edges|
Once dried, the beads go in for a bisque firing. The design is coloured with an oxide wash and either fired like that leaving the clay bare, or they are coloured with glaze around the edges.
|The finished beads|
|Glazed and washed set|
|The finished design|
Although they are fiddly and take a bit of patience to make, I think the end result is worth it! I hope you'll try out some of your own designs to make some for yourself!