Carving Clay in Monochrome

While preparing for “Holiday Anthology” at the Full Circle Gallery, I decided to create a collection of plates and vases using a technique called Sgraffito – carving layers of colored slip from green ware to create images and designs.

The process begins by throwing clay forms which become my canvas for sgraffito.

After the pieces are thrown, they are removed from the wheel and set aside for drying and trimming.  Once trimmed, the pieces are painted with the black slip and ready to be carved.

At this point, I decide on images to carve into the pieces.  Choosing imagery requires some sketching and basic geometry.  The slip can be sketched on with graphite which will burn off once it is in the kiln.  People often ask me how I decide on the subjects for my pieces.  I primarily use the female form, spirals, waves, trees, stars, celestial bodies, feathers and birds.  I roll these images around in my mind and come up with different ways to incorporate them into the pieces.  The underlying geometry in these pieces makes that process even more intriguing for me because there is already a structure to work with.  It is almost like the patterns are there waiting for me to find them in the surface of the clay.




Each piece is carved with its own design.  After I finish carving  the pieces they are bisque fired.  Finally, a glaze is applied.  This is when I decide on color or lack thereof; blue, green, or black and white.  Creating this body of work has once again allowed me to concentrate on the form and image of the pieces.  In my constant search for color I ironically found myself back in the realm of black and white. Again leaving me to question where color comes into my work.

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