Try adding texture to your pottery

July 29, 2015

Texture is considered an appropriate­ finish for handmade pottery as it complements the organic nature of the project. A useful side benefit for beginners is that texture can also detract from a less-than-perfect form.

Try adding texture to your pottery

Texture techniques

A handy way to start out is to try different texturing techniques on small test tiles that can be fired and kept for future reference. Add texture while clay is still soft. Try some of these methods out to see what type of textures you prefer working with, as well as which are visually appealling to you:

  • Add to the surface of your work by adding pieces of clay to form a design or special texture
  • Before forming, press your slab onto stone paving, branches, rocks or other uneven surfaces
  • Roll the clay on coarse material such as hessian for an all-over textured look
  • Try using orange or onion bags, or scrunching with different materials of an uneven texture
  • Try the sgraffito technique — carving into the surface with a sharp tool. Wide lines can be made using a looped tool or the end of a bobby pin
  • Stamp the surface with objects such as seed pods and shells; use stamps bought from craft shops or make your own stamps by carving blocks of clay and firing­ them
  • Mark the clay with different materials for interesting textures. Lay string, rope or raffia on the surface before rolling out the slab — remember to remove this material before firing
  • Try making impressions­ with different types of leaves. Those with prominent veins, such as nasturtium and grape leaves, are most effective
  • Roll rice, seeds, sand, sawdust, wood shavings and any other readily combustible organic material into the clay. These do not need to be removed before firing because they will burn out completely during the process, providing they are not left buried beneath the surface of the clay
  • Use your fingers to make odd-shaped prints or to twist the surface in a variety of ways

Experimenting with texture is a fun way to alter your finished product and express your creativity when working with pottery. Try these methods until you find one that's right for you and your art.

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