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Carving Texture and Imagery onto Clay


Translucent glazes that break across the surface of your ceramic form look great on texture. One way to create a textured surface is by carving. Carving can be deep or shallow, bold or delicate, abstract or representative.


  1. Modeling Clay Tool Sets


Tips for carving

The best tools for carving are a wood stylus or a sgraffito tool, which has a small metal loop. A pencil can substitute for a stylus, and the graphite will burn out in firing. You can use a needle, but the line may be too thin to show up well.

A design can be drawn freehand or traced with paper and a stylus. Use the tracing as a guide as you carve out the design.

Different tools can give varying line quality, try out some different things.

Carving should be done on clay that is leather hard. If the clay is too wet the it will have too little resistance and the crumbs will stick. If the clay is too dry it will chip when carved.

When done, let the piece dry before removing crumbs with a sponge or rib.

When finished with a translucent glaze that enhances texture, like our Celadon glazes for mid-range and high-fire, or some of the LG and F series for low-fire, the results can be stunning.