Today we are going to be talking about pottery stamps. Before we move into the discussion of the day, you can check out some other pottery-related articles on this blog. Trust me, it will improve your skills as a potter (even if you are a newbie) and it will definitely be worth your while. Enough of that let’s dive into the affairs of the day– Pottery Stamps. I am going to be talking about How to make your Pottery Stamps that look amazing
First and foremost, what is the pottery stamp?
I know you are probably thinking of postage stamps used on clay projects but I hate to break it to you that it is not what you are thinking. Pottery Stamp is the identity of a potter on his projects. Pottery Stamps are like brands and ID for your projects (wares). It serves as a means of identification of pottery projects. It is a device to identify commercial pottery wares (emphasis on commercial; you don’t need a pottery to stamp if you are making pots, bowls or plates for yourself).
History of pottery stamp
Pottery Stamp or otherwise known as Potters mark dated back to the 18th century when sculptures and plates were made out of terracotta. Although, stonewares (ceramics) before the 20th century were not often marked. On some earthenware, potters’ stamps are frequently seen, but signatures are rare. One of the few found on ancient Greek vases reads: “Exekias made and painted me.” The red pottery of Roman times is signed using stamps. Before the 19th Century, potter’s stamps are most commonly found on porcelain. Chinese porcelain marks usually record the dynasty and the name of the emperor; but they are unreliable because the Chinese often used the mark of an earlier dynasty as a sign of veneration for the products of antiquity and, in recent times, for commercial gain.
European pottery factories embraced pottery stamps, the earliest example of which is the stamp of a cathedral and an F on some Florentine ceramics of about 1573–1587; they were regarded as a guarantee of authenticity. Not only were fake pottery stamps added to contemporary forgeries but the smaller 18th-century factories often copied the registered marks of their competitors.
As a potter, you should get yourself accustomed to a lot of pottery stamp designs. You can discover new pottery stamp designs by turning a piece of pottery over and inspecting the base. If you are a newbie to pottery, any marks you find may seem cryptic and ambiguous. Some common stamps include the studio where the piece was made, the initials of the potter who crafted the piece, and of course the signature of the artist who decorated it.
Importance of Pottery Stamps
I think the most obvious reason why potters place stamps on their projects is to serve as a means of identification. The most important reason pottery stamp is important in the pottery business is that it is how a potter/sculptor gets recognition and becomes known to the buyers of his art. The stamp is the most important element of pottery, especially where this factor is concerned, as it is essentially the face of the potter. This is why a professional logo in the form of a pottery stamp should be powerful and easily memorable, making an impression on a person at first glance. Printed promotional products are a way of getting this across.
It increases the value of the potter’s wares
A pottery stamp is important when you are trying to generate future business, and an amazing pottery stamp can increase a business’s value by giving the business more leverage in the industry.
Creates Trust within the marketplace
Why do you buy shoes/clothes that have three stripes? It is simply because Adidas has built the trust of its products in you. Thereby whenever you are shopping and you see any shoe with three black/white stripes, you pick it up. The same applies to pottery. Your postage stamp is like Adidas Stripes and it represents you wherever your wares are. A professional form and well-designed potter’s mark will help your business build trust with consumers, potential clients, and customers. People are more likely to patronize you if you have a polished and professional portrayal.
Methods of Pottery Stamp
1. Incised: The incised stamp is by carving out initials or design by hand after making the fundamental design. The clay is still soft and this makes it very easy to place the mark on the piece.
2. Pleased: Pleased pottery stamps follow the very same treatment as the incised stamp, however, the mark will be marked into the clay. This method is utilized in some cases to determine undecorated white porcelain or white blanks on the piece. This method is used by most renowned potters and it is still in use to date.
3. Painted: The painted pottery stamp can be divided into two namely; an Underglaze mark and an Overglaze mark. The Underglaze stamp/mark is hand-painted after the biscuit shooting however before the glaze. Overglaze mark involves hand-painting the mark after the glaze shooting.
4. Printed: The stamp is printed onto the piece and it either be underglaze or overglaze.
Involves carving out initials or design by hand after making the fundamental design
Involved carving out initials or designs by hand after making the fundamental design after it has been marked into the clay
Involves Painting the piece. It can be divided into Underglaze and Overglaze
Involves Printing on the piece. It can be divided into Underglaze and Overglaze
There are various ways of making stamps but for this post, I will teach you 3. Get your jotters and fasten your learning belt, it is time to learn.
1. Bisque Stamps – Tessellations
I am certain that you know what Tessellation means in pottery. I have talked about it in my previous posts but for the sake of some people, I will define it again. Tessellation is the repetition of shapes without overlapping or any gaps. A lot of wares and ceramics have tessellations all over them in the form of bisque stamps. It is prominent in making unique and beautiful marks.
How to make a Bisque Stamp
Step 1: Roll out a 1-inch-thick slab of clay
Make a slab of clay that is about 1 inch thick and let it stiffen up a bit, but not too leather-hard. If it gets too hard, there is a chance of the slab breaking.
Step 2: Cut out a paper template
You should design which design you want to use and then you should cut it into paper.
Step 3: Place the pre-cut paper template on the clay slab and then trace around it
You will have to cut through the clay around the paper template using a very sharp, yet thin knife. Use various loop or carving utensils, and develop or alter the surface to finish the tessellation bisque stamp.
Step 4: Smoothen all edges
Once the bisque stamp is stiff and hard, smooth all the edges around the stamp. This is to add finishing touches to the stamp and also safety; so you won’t hurt if you are on any sharp edge.
You can use recycled clay to make new pottery stamps, so as not to waste new clay.
2. Logo Pottery Stamp
I am sure that you have seen logos on a lot of pottery works. Virtually every ceramic nowadays carry a logo or a brand stamp. I am happy to inform you that you can make your logo stamp from the comfort of your home with these few steps.
Step 1: Print/Draw your logo
The very first step is to print or draw your logo or design on a piece of paper. I will advise you to make the logo/design something simple. The simpler it is, the easier is it to trace
Step 2: Trace your logo onto a plaster
Tape your logo on plaster or a slab of clay and then trace it out. You can use either a dull needle tool or a stylus to trace the logo. Make sure while tracing the logo, you don’t rip the paper.
Step 3: Carve the logo into the plaster
After you have traced the logo, remove the taped paper then carve the logo deeply into the plaster using sharp needles and a stylus. As you carve the logo, make sure you are sweeping the dust off the surface of the plaster with a brush. If it appears to be too dusty, I will advise you to wear a face mask, Safety first, remember!
Step 4: Prepare your putty
You will need to get your putty ready once you are done with the carving process. You can order and get delivered your putty by clicking here. Once your putty is ready, place your carved-out design on the putty and let it dry for about an hour or two. You can smoothen and carve your putty into any shape you want.
Step 5: Press putty into your project
Once the putty is properly mixed and a bit dry, take it and gently press it into your clay projects. I will recommend you press it when your piece is still damp. You should be careful while pressing the putty onto your piece; too much pressure might break or rip your project.
3. Seal Pottery Stamps:
Seal pottery stamps are so easy to make. The easiest method is to take a portion of standard clay and roll it into a ball. Flatten one side of the ball to give yourself a ‘stamp’ area, and then use sticks, metal tools, needles, or any type of utensil to impress your logo designs into the clay. This is best done while the clay is on its way to becoming leather-hard, but it can be done to soft clay too if you want to make confident and long-lasting marks.
On the other hand, you can make a cylindrical shape and carve your logo/design right around the cylinder (but not the ends). This type of pottery stamp is called “roulette”. I am sure you have seen quite a lot of wares/art pieces with this type of stamp on them. They work by holding them and rolling them like a wheel into soft clay to create a continuous repeat pattern (Tessellations).
These two types of seal pottery stamps must be left to dry out thoroughly before you fire them in the kiln. This will make them hard enough to use again and again, and as long as you look after them (and make sure you don’t drop them!) they will last years. There are seal stamps dating back to the 1900s. This is due to the care and proper maintenance of the stamps.