Put your stash of stickers to good use making patterns on ceramic surfaces.
By Molly Hatch
In New Ceramic Surface Design (Quarry Books, 2015), Molly Hatch helps you take your ceramic project to the next level with easy ideas for drawing, printing, painting, and stenciling on clay surfaces. Each project is outlined with step-by-step instructions, along with hand-drawn illustrations and inspirational photographs of Hatch’s finished pieces. A faculty member at the Rhode Island School of Design, and an internationally shown ceramics artist, Hatch introduces innovative techniques using a variety of materials.
I started using round pricing stickers in different sizes as resists on the surface of my bisqueware to make perfect polka dots. Since I am a production potter, this was both a timesaving effort and a straightforward way to get perfect dots on my pottery. Everyone enjoys a good polka dot! This process is fun to do with any stickers you find. With the recent scrapbook home die-cutting printer technology, you can even design and print your own stickers at home quite reasonably.
• damp sponge
• bisque ceramic surface
• high-grit sandpaper (optional)
• found stickers
• 1" (2.5 cm) brush
• pen-style craft knife or
• spear-tipped sgraffito tool
• dust mask
• clear or tinted glaze
1. Use a damp sponge to wipe the surface of your bisque ceramic surface clean of any dust. If your surface has ridges from throwing, it would be helpful to sand the ridges with a high-grit sandpaper to keep underglaze from seeping underneath your sticker, which makes for extra cleanup later.
2. Apply your stickers to the surface of your bisque piece wherever you’d like the surface to retain the color of the clay. The sticker will act to resist the underglaze you apply over it. Play and explore, cutting your own stickers and creating new forms from found stickers.
3. Once you have created your sticker collage or pattern, use a paintbrush to apply one to three coats of underglaze over the surface of the bisque. Allow the underglaze to dry, even over the stickers; this will help you remove the stickers cleanly.
4. Gently remove the stickers using your pen-style craft knife or a spear-tipped sgraffito tool by piercing each sticker and lifting with the tool. Voilá! If you try to remove the stickers with your fingers, it tends to smear the underglaze and leave behind a line that isn’t as clean.
5. Inevitably, every time I use this technique there is a small amount of cleanup around some of the edges, where the sticker might not have been sealed to the bisque surface before applying the underglaze. Simply use a craft knife or spear-tipped sgraffito tool to gently scrape the unwanted underglaze from the surface. This creates some dust, so please be safe and wear a dust mask or work under ventilation.
6. Finish your sticker resist surface with a clear or tinted glaze and fire.
This works with every kind of sticker I have tried, from glossy clear plastic dots to glittery stickers my daughter has set aside for me to use. Some stickers leave behind a residue on the bisque surface. This can affect the glaze you apply over the surface of your piece after you have removed the stickers. Simply dab a small amount of clear glaze over the areas affected with residue and gently “massage” the glaze to help seal the surface. Works every time!