Since being a small girl I have loved to draw and was encouraged to develop this through my childhood. My excitement for the magical possibilities of clay began at Art College and these feelings have never faded. Discovering and specialising in the beautiful technique of Sgraffito has allowed me to pair up my two loves of drawing and clay work. I am passionate about this time consuming process and have developed a distinctive and unique style, with each piece being made, and meticulously decorated by hand. Telling a story and trying to capture a fleeting moment in time I find very fascinating. Birds and fish are particular favourites and being such nervous creatures I hope to give the impression they may take flight from a vessel or dish at any moment. My forms and designs are ever changing and I have numerous sketch books waiting to come to life.
The Making Process
Because my decoration is created using slips and clays at leather hard I am only able to work on one piece at a time. The drying process starts as soon as I begin to draw on my sgraffito and slowing this down is crucial as it gives me time to create my complex designs.
First, detailed pencil drawings are made of the animals and their habitats that I intend to decorate my next pieces with. I throw my forms using a white stoneware clay which are turned and manipulated whilst leather hard. The smooth forms are then completely covered in slip colours I have developed allowing my decoration to evolve freely. Over many days the outlines of the designs are drawn on to the form then using a selection of tools and scalpel blades the slip between the drawings is removed and scraped away until smooth. This process is slow and meticulous creating a three dimensional feel to the slip colours left behind much like cameo. At the final stages contrasting slip colour is added and all the details drawn on using a very thin pointed tool. Each piece is then left to dry slowly before the two firings. After the first bisque I brush a clear glaze onto the main themes leaving the rest of the piece matt creating a tension between the glazed and unglazed surface. The final glaze firing is 1180°c in an electric kiln.
This word translated from Italian means ‘to scratch away’ and has been used by many cultures to decorate buildings, paintings and pottery. It was first used in china during the 11th and 12th century AD and in Europe during the 16th century as relief decoration on buildings.