Porcelain Vases

Sgraffito ('scratching' or carving through) technique used on
the surfaces of these vases

These black, white and bronze pots above make use of a decorative device called sgraffito. This involves brushing a layer of black slip onto the surface of a piece, then incising or scratching through this layer to reveal the contrasting white clay beneath. I do this on unfired (unbisqued) surfaces as this allows for more fluid and lively markings. The bronzed areas are achieved by brushing on a mixture of copper and manganese. At this point the interiors are glazed with a functional food safe glaze and fired to a temperature between 2200 F and 2300 F. I started to experiment with this technique because I was looking for a low tech method of glaze application (brushes) that didn't involve spray equipment or the mixing of vast quantities of materials in large buckets. It was an attempt to keep things simple.

I used a traditional technique called mishima (inlay) on the surfaces of the pieces in the photograph below. I carved into the surfaces of the unfired pots with a sharp blade and then brushed on a layer of black slip. The exteriors were then carefully scraped to remove the excess slip, and to leave only the tracery of the inlayed black lines. The interiors were glazed with a functional glaze and the pots fired to a temperature between 2200 F and 2300 F.


Mishima (inlay) technique used on surfaces of these vases.
Gold leaf applied to small areas.

“I think of clay as a touchstone, linking different worlds and traditions. Making pots is an encounter with these worlds and a way of connecting with areas of experience which are larger than oneself.

From the beginning of pot making, it seems to me that the potter’s task has been to find a unity between form and surface. My relationship to the integration of form and surface is the thread that binds the different aspects of my work together and continues to be my greatest pleasure and challenge as a potter.”