The art of pottery is for sure a fine one. Fun, relaxing, creative and in most cases, useful! When it comes to pottery, you may want to decorate it depending on the clay work you have made. For the pottery you want to decorate, stamps are popular and you can choose from a large variety of designs. You can even create your own, home-made, stamps. The internet is full of online stores for pottery tools and design ideas. We have gathered around some tips and tricks on how to use stamps to dress up your pottery and make it look more appealing to the eye.
Let it dry for a while
Using stamps, to mark clay, when it is too wet and soft might crease the object or the object might become loose after stamping. Which could smudge the stamp design and the clay. If you were unsure of the readiness of the clay and stamped it too early, smooth out the area with your finger, adding small amounts of clay if necessary, and your object will be good as new.
Doesn’t matter what your object is, using large stamps to mark small clay products will destroy your work and efforts. For smaller objects, the depth of your stamp is supposed to be around 1/8’’ to be able to mark your work without problems. If you don’t press too hard, your stamp should be free of clay it picked up from the pottery. Like we mentioned above, use a small amount of clay if you mess up your work. Moisten your hands with water if the pot of the clay is too dry. If your creation is big, using hand pressed stamps might be a better idea to assure your stamp will leave a mark on the pottery.
You don’t want your stamp to be stuck on your work. Not only will you not be able to use the stamp again, your pottery won’t have any designs. Instead it will have a handle growing out of it. If you are into that, go for it. But if you want to make sure your pottery work is flawless, and the stamping process is faster and less of a hustle, use a release agent to make sure your stamp doesn’t adhere to the clay and is able to leave a mark without removing parts of clay from your creation. WD-40 seems to be a user favorite according to some reviews. Spray it on the stamp BEFORE marking the clay and recoat as needed.
Alternative Release Agent
If you run out of your regular release agent, or your choice is not working well for you or you just picked up pottery stamping and don’t want to spend any extra money on it yet, there are common household products you can use that will work in the place of your release agent. You can use corn starch, for one. Lay a thin layer of corn starch on the clay and the stamp before decorating it. The corn starch will burn and become unnoticeable once the clay is baked. As a second alternative, use normal vegetable oil on the stamp just like you would use a regular release agent.
Marking the Center
Marking the center of a pottery piece can be hard. The clay is usually thinner on this part of the pot and requires support in order to stay in tact while being decorated. Place something that clay won’t cling to, inside of the pot to mark your initials or your design on the bottom of your work. It will give something to press against to the stamp, providing the support needed to make your beautiful piece.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Whenever you acquire a new skill, like decorating pottery using stamps, time is needed to reach a certain level. Practice stamping on scrap pieces of clay and pottery to get your craft ready for the big creations. You can use vegetable oil to stamp the scrap pieces if the piece is too dry or too wet. Brush a thin layer on your stamp using a 5 mm brush and practice away.
All of these recommendations are given mostly for water-based clay pottery. However, all will be useful with other types of clay as well. For PMC clay, use the tactics above to help improve your work. For Polymer clay, you may not need a releasing agent, but you can use the rest of the topics on the list. We hope you enjoyed this article and are looking forward to creating great designs. Share them with us on social media for a chance to be featured on ours.