Learning Index >> Ceramic Decoration: a selective guide to pots in the collection of the Crafts Study Centre

Textured Surfaces
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In most ancient cultures and civilizations there is a broad repertoire of handmade marks and additions used to embellish clay; Bronze Age pottery is particularly rich in this respect and was an influence on Lucie Rie in the 1940s. Surface marks can be the product of drawing on, incising, scoring, carving or cutting away the wet or leather-hard clay. Alternatively, raised contours may be the result of beating, squeezing or pinching the body of a pot after it has been thrown on the wheel; yet more surface interest can be created by building up or modelling a pattern in relief, using - for example - sprig moulds, or by adding pellets and coils of clay.

Many British studio potters represented in the Crafts Study Centre's collection and selected for this discourse - from Bernard Leach in the 1930s see (No.41) to Jim Malone in the 1980s (No.44) - have incised delicate figurative motifs on a pot and simply covered these with a semi-transparent glaze. Another common device is fluting, worked on the outside of vases, bottles and bowls, and often matched with a celadon glaze. Examples of the various approaches to fluting can be seen here in pots by Richard Batterham (No. 32) and David Leach (No.43) - regular parallel flutes, Hans Coper (No.37) - irregular toothed cuts and Lucie Rie (No.45) - deeply carved, diagonal grooves.

Heightened relief textures and variegated colours can also be encouraged through the interactive behaviour of clay and glaze materials in the firing process, as Svend Bayer's jar with a gritty, spitty surface shows (No.33), or the saltglazed model of a small bird by Rosemary Wren demonstrates (No.47) . More pronounced relief features can be made from additional pressed clay motifs, such as the sprig-moulded roundels which decorate Rosemary Wren's tankard, or the freely crumbled, coiled and rolled clay particles which represent human hair in Audrey Blackman's 1970s figurines (No.35) and (No.36) .

 

 

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