“I love texture. I love all the bumps, spikes, ridges, scratches, swirly grooves, twisting branches, and overlapping scales that make my pieces so much more interesting. You already know that I’m constantly inspired by nature, and it seems that everything I find captivating and beautiful to look at either has a texture or a pattern — and textures are what we’re talking about today.
Sometimes when we’re working with clay, we can get obsessive about smoothing the surface — it just feels so good. But, if you leave the texture alone that develops when you are building, or enhance it later, it can do some work for you. When glaze interacts with texture, very interesting things can happen. Where the texture extends up away from the pot, the glaze gets thinner and when it creates a crevice or low-lying area, the glaze puddles up and gets thicker. This can make lots of color variations within one glaze. Texture can make glazes look more interesting and glazes help make texture look great too.
We can work with texture in so many ways. Sometimes it involves augmenting the piece, adding bits of clay to make bumps, scales, spikes and decorative elements.
We can also create texture by removing clay from our pieces, by carving into them. This can make a heavy piece lighter and thinner which can be an advantage.
Making impressions is a very versatile way to add texture. The surface of clay is very accepting of marks and can display very detailed impressions. Anything can be stamped or pressed into the surface and I’ve tried a lot of things. Bamboo and sticks, leaves, flowers, pebbles, string, washers, wire mesh, Indian Batik stamps, and a myriad of clay tools to name a few.
Another option is to use slip as a surface texture. It’s my favorite way to make sea urchins, and it can also be used as a 3 dimensional drawing on the surface of your work.”
Shoshana Parry teaches ceramic classes and workshops from her studio in Fairfax, California. Visit her website at shoshanaparry.com.