The Textured Surface

To keep the cost down when working at the studio we are always exploring ways to create unique and personal objects of expression from basic forms and simple shapes. Surface decoration is similar to glazes, as in it can change a ceramic object from boring to brilliant. We are talking about texture as a decoration technique different from texture as a quality of the clay body. The texture of a clay body is a feature of the clay itself describing what the clay is made of and the composition of the clay body. Texture decoration refers mainly to the surface of the clay object from a visual art perspective.

The sense of touch is so important in the way we experience the world. How the object will feel to the touch has an impact on whether we love or hate the artwork. What we feel towards something depends greatly on how we feel when we touch it or think it would feel like to touch. We can find sensual joy in feeling different surfaces. Difference surfaces can make us laugh or cry, they can inspire us and provoke us to think differently. Even the perception of how something may feel can influence our mood and thoughts.

Surface decoration or texturing can be described as the tangible quality of the surface of an object. Surface decoration can be carvings, added layers, sharp and smooth contracts, inlaid patterns and burnished areas. It is an important element of ceramic art that can help the artist communicate the concept behind the artwork. Textured surfaces can draw the viewer into the work and can be used to bring attention to specific areas.

A textured surface can be used as a motif repeated in the artist’s work. A recurring pattern in a set of objects can act as a signature of the artist. Using texture, an artist can signal a development in their work or concept, giving a visual que of different periods in the artist life. The use of texture is so diverse that it is hard not to consider it as an important element in ceramics.

The most common way to work with the element of textured surfaces is through impression. Using various objects to impress into the clay can bring excitement into your ceramic project. There are many tools available for this application. Texture rollers are can be used to create continues texture patters. Stamps come in all shapes and sizes and are readily available. To cover large areas, you can use a textured wood or rope paddle to impress onto the clay.

The use of slip in trailing bottles is an interesting way to add texture to your surfaces. Slip dots or stripes can enhance a ceramic object giving it a modern design instantly. You can also cover your surface with a thick slip and then use a comb to create fluid lines in the slip. Adding dry crumbs of clay onto a wet surface will also bring depth and contrast to your ceramic object. Using sand, seeds or leaves will also make a textured impression on to you clay work.

When you want to make controlled textured patterns on your clay, consider rolling out coils that can be laid in a pattern then smoothed over with a sponge. Coils can vary in thickness and can be manipulated by pinching or blending. It is best to apply coils onto a surface that is semi-leather hard and then allowing the textured surface to dry slowly. Similarly, rolling out small balls or cutting out geometric shapes can be added onto a surface to give it a textured design.

Create a texture that communicates to the viewer how you feel or a concept that you are interested in. Think about the way we describe a texture to help you choose the textural element for your piece. These are a few adjective to consider: coarse, gritty, hard, leathery, tender, silky, even, exquisite, fibrous, complex, creamy, crisp, transparent, uneven, uniform, unique, varied, velvety and many more.

Tips when using texture decoration:

  • Always taking your time when applying a texture.

  • try to use a glaze which adds to the textured look rather than one that covers it up.

  • You can make your own stamps and rollers in clay and then just bisque them.

  • Use a rolling pin to soften the texture on a flat surface to give it a more natural feel.

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