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Surface Stamps 1

Surface Stamps 1

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Published by Stefan Van Cleemput

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Published by: Stefan Van Cleemput on Sep 14, 2012
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by William Shinn
 Rolling Stamps
he early Greek potters usedsmall rolls of clay that hadbeen carved on the surfacesto produce repeated patterns on theirfreshly thrown forms. However, littlemore has been done with this tech-nique by subsequent potters. This isunderstandable, since larger rollingstamps would, of course, distort afreshly thrown piece. With the in-creased interest in handbuilt, press-molded and extruded forms, the pos-
sibilities for texturing flat surfaces
with rolling stamps on a larger scalecan be more thoroughly explored.The simplest method of creatingrolling stamps is to roll a clay slabaround a tubular shape, such as acardboard tube, wooden dowel orplastic pipe. These produce a rigidbacking when applying a textureto the slabs. A piece of newspaperplaced between the form and theclay will prevent sticking when re-moving the support. Removal shouldbe performed as soon as possible be-fore any shrinkage takes place.
Stamps also can be made by throw-ing a cylindrical or conical form
(gure 1). The thrown stamps are
created like miniature steamer cas-seroles. The center spout is pulledup and compressed to an opening thesize of the dowel (with allowance for
shrinkage). The outer wall is then
raised to form the working surfaceof the stamp, which will be carvedat the proper stage of drying. Makesure that the outer surface is perpen-
dicular to the wheel head (gure 2).
The use of an extruder can alsoproduce tubular shapes for rolling
stamps. The ends can be lled in,
leaving small holes in the center to
Rolling stamps giveyou a practical wayto create repeatingdesigns. Combiningstamps provideseven more designopportunities.
Ceramic Arts Handbook
with dowels for handles—much likerolling pins. They are more easilyguided in a straight or curved linethan the wider and heavier cylindri-cal stamps.The rolling stamp is ideal forquickly decorating a platter rim. The
stamp, held rigidly in a xed posi
-tion, quickly prints out the repeatedpattern as the wheel spins. Liftingat the right moment can be tricky. A little practice is recommended when
starting this project (gure 3).
Besides carving, the surface pat-tern can be created a variety of ways—utilizing simple stamps (re-
peated or varied), rolling the clay
over natural or manmade surfaces,allow dowels to be used as handles.Bisqued clay produces an idealstamp with its combination of poros-ity, strength and permanence. Makethe walls as thick as possible be-cause a thin wall can’t withstand theheavy pressure and becomes quicklysaturated, losing its resistance tosticking. Use a hair dryer to solvethis problem.
 After creating and ring the
stamps, their use is quite simple.The cylinders are rolled over thesurface of the clay with the palm of the hand while varying the pressureto correspond to the width of thestamp. For small stamps, I preferthrowing the forms and using them
Ceramic Arts Handbook
stretching the clay pattern while flat
before wrapping around a cylinder,etc. The possibilities are endless. You also may notice that the im-pressed negative design on the claycan be quite different from the posi-tive design of the stamp. Very effective surfaces can be ob-tained by cutting the cylinders intosections and reassembling the partsinto different positions. This can bedone when the stamps are leatherhard and then glued back together
after bisque ring. Such a rolling
stamp can produce a variety of re-
sults (gure 4 and 5). Other tools
can add further interest to the sur-
face (gure 6).
For producing an overall surface,or for creating unconventionallyshaped tiles, design a cylinder withmatched outer edges. This creates a
repeated pattern that ts within it
-self and create a continuous surface
when rolled side by side (gure 7).
 A conical thrown form can be used
to produce a round design (gure 8).
The conical stamp can be combinedwith the handled stamp to increasethe complexity of the design.Unlike a thrown form, an extrud-
ed shape possessing flat surfaces
is an excellent form for stampingwhen supported from the inside.Newspaper or cloth can be used to
prevent sticking (gure 9).

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