Greenware stage decorative techniques
What is greenware?
Greenware is unfired clay pottery referring to a stage of production when the clay is mostly dry (leather hard) but has not yet been fired in a kiln. Greenware may be in any of the stages of drying: wet, damp, soft leather-hard, leather-hard, stiff leather-hard, dry, and bone dry. At this stage, it is still possible to work the object by adding more clay, or wetting it so it softens and then reshaping it.
Don’t confuse greenware as a stage of production with Greenware referring to Chinese Celadon pottery in a range of jade-like green colours or Greenware software that is distributed under the condition that the user does something to help the environment.
Two types of decoration: shaping decorations and surface decoration.
Shaping decoration include indenting, squaring, faceting, fluting and trimming.
Working from one side of the pot make a series of indentation with the fingers of one hand while supporting the wall from the inside with the other hands. Work around the post evenly and make sure the clay is stiff enough to handle but soft enough not to crack. You can tap a vessel gently on a table to square the shape, the clay should also be stiff and this step is best done after trimming or making a foot. Faceting is about using a peeler or sharp triangular tool to cut successively don’t a thick-walled pot.
When faceting, begin at the base and work upwards. Fluting is like faceting, instead, using a loop tool to cut grooves horizontally or vertically. It is recommended to mark sections on the pot before faceting or fluting equal or intervaled decorations. Trimming your pots at the leather hard stage by inverting them on the potters wheel and using a loop tool or trimming tool to make a footring and a chattered design.
Surface decoration include sponging, resist, sgraffito, slip trailing, feathering, marbling, inlaying or inciing/cutout.
Sponging slip on your object is a good alternative to brushing or dipping. You can build layers by waiting for the slip to dry between coats. You can cut your own shapes from a sponge that is damped and then frozen. This will make it easier to cut the sponge into any detailed design. Alternatively using a resist method by masking parts of the clay to achieve a designed decorations. Read more on paper resist in our blog.
Sgraffito is a form of incising or drawing into the clay to reveal the color of the clay from under a slip or underglaze. You can use any kind of knife or pointed tool like pins or sharp pencil to draw a design on a contrasting surface. Slip trailing is a good technique to make dots of vairious sizes using s trailer bulb or any syringe type bottle with a needle end. Squeeze the slip evenly and steadly to draw your design like you would with a pencil. For flat and open shapes, feathering is a form of slip trailing. After trailing contrasting colored slip in evenly spaced lines, drag a pin or feather to create a pattern.
Try marbling the slip by dragging the pin in swirls and circles or shaking the form to move the liquid slip. The results will look like the surface of the bowl to have a marble effect. Another technique similar to sgraffito is Inlaying. Drawing your design into the leather hard clay and then fill the gap with a contrasting clay or slip. When the inlay dries, carefully scrape the excess slip away with a kidney to reveal the pattern.
Finally try incising or cutting out a design completely out of your vessel. Try cutting triangles or holes in a repeated pattern to produce an effective design for your pot. Use a thin potters knife to cut gently into the soft leather hard clay. You can use a sponge to soften the cut edges once you finish, ensure not to wet the clay to much and weaken the form.