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Enhancing Clay Surfaces with Sgraffito, Mishima and Color


Learn about Mishima and Sgraffito decorating techniques. Create designs on leather-hard clay, bisque fire, and glaze with an AMACO LG Series low-fire transparent color glaze.

Sponge on Black Velvet Underglaze

For this project we are using low fire AMACO White Art Clay No.25 and V-361 Jet Black Velvet Underglaze. The underglaze can be brushed or sponged on. The clay should be stiff leatherhard and after adding the underglaze the surface should be dry to the touch.

Select or draw a design

Ancient Mayan designs work well for the Sgraffito process.

Scribble on the back of the design with a soft pencil will help the design transfer

Scribble on the back of the design with a soft pencil will help the design transfer.

Attach the design to the clay and trace

If the clay is still oft enough try push pins to hold the design in place. Trace the design with a pencil or ball point pen.

Remove the paper to see the image

Remove the paper to see the image.

Outline the image

Use bamboo skewers or pin tools to outline the image.

Scrape away areas of the design to expose the clay

Once the design is complete create an interesting border

Mishima - working with a variety of lines

Mishima is a technique of inlaying underglaze or slip into a contrasting clay body. Underglaze stays in the incised lines to create an interesting linear design.

Draw your line design

Brainstorm some designs composed mainly of lines. Avoid overlapping lines. The clay should stiff (no flex) but still moist which some potters call stiff leatherhard. Use a tool that will cut a deep groove.

Dab Velvet Underglaze into the lines

Once the design is complete and the clay is stiff but not bone dry dab Velvet Underglaze into the lines.

Use a clean damp sponge to wipe off the excess underglaze

This can be a little tricky. First the clay should be very stiff but not bone dry and second each wipe should be done with a clean sponge with all the excess water squeezed out. Each wipe is done with a clean damp sponge. Wiping multiple times with a dirty sponge will not remove the underglaze from the surface. If your design starts to spear the clay is too wet. Wipe or scrape it when the clay is drier.

Your project is ready to dry and bisque fire

AMACO LG transparent colored glazes are beautiful over Sgraffito and Mishima techniques