Techniques for Writing on Clay Pottery

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There are few ways that lettering can be added to a clay piece. Some of the techniques used to write on clay will require practice and a steady hand. When you write on clay you need to have the glaze so that it can be applied in one smooth stroke. There are a few different tools that can be used to apply lettering.



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This is the technique of cutting or scratching through one layer of glaze to reveal another layer of glaze. Two layers of glaze of different colors are applied and dried. Then the top layer is scraped off. The thickness of the line depends of the tool that is used. This technique can also be done on leather hard clay that is not glazed. Before applying the lettering make sure the surface is smooth. If a mistake is made while drawing in the lettering, you can erase them by rubbing the clay with your finger. Once the inscription is scratched in, the lettering can be sponged over with a glaze and wiped back to let the glaze settle in the incised area.

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Slip Trailing

Different squeeze bottles can be used to apply lettering. A lot of squeeze bottles can be found in craft stores. Some of the bottles will have different size tips that can be used. Fill the bottle with the desired color of glaze and then gently squeeze onto the piece.The glaze should have a cream to yogurt consistency. Bottles can also be purchased from pottery supply companies with the glaze already in them and usually come with a fine metal tip. This is used when you want more of a raised letter.



Lettering can be applied with a very thin script brush or liner brush. Brushes can be purchased at any art store or pottery supply store. The use of a good quality sable brush for lettering will hold much more glaze and give you a nice smooth stroke. Apply lettering to the background glaze that has dried completely. Let this dry as well. Once the desired lettering has been applied and dried, it then can be fired properly in the kiln. Lettering can also be applied on leather-hard clay with a brush. The lettering is then dried and then fired in the kiln. A clear glaze can be applied over the lettering and fired again in the kiln.


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