Creating texture on inner and outer surfaces of your pottery/Part 1-using a stamp

Clay is wonderfully pliable, which is why I and so many others are so hooked on it. In some of my previous newsletters I have written about using glazes to create colour and pattern. If you want a quick recap you can find these articles in ‘A Potters Journey’ on my blog.

Textured clay works fantastically well with a glaze, no need for expensive or complicated gadgets here, the simplest of found items can be used to create detailed and intricate patterns. All you need is imagination and patience.

The following  technique is widely used and is straightforward,a simple method of creating texture and detail by using a ready-made stamp to emboss the surface. Wooden or rubber print blocks work equally well.  I’ve used a Vietnamese good luck stamp on some of my salad bowls. It wasn’t intended for use on pottery, but I tried it out and loved the result.

A stamp can be applied directly or indirectly to your wares.  Applying a stamp directly can be complicated, and there is a risk of distorting your piece or weakening the wall.  In the case of my Vietnamese stamp, I applied it indirectly.


Roll out a thin slab of clay, turning it over from time to time, so as to prevent it from sticking to the work surface and rolling pin.



Now cut the clay slab to sizes, enough for a few stamps, dip the stamp into cornflower to stop it from sticking to the clay and roll the clay over it applying slight pressure with your rolling pin or wooden dowel (using talc or other glaze materials for dipping your stamp is fine too and might create some interesting glaze effects).




Gently peel the slab of the stamp, making sure it doesn’t tear, cut it to size, place it on the pot and gently mark around it.



Now put your stamped clay aside, score the area within the markings on the pot and apply slip to it and the back of the stamped clay. Reapply the slab and join it to the pot by very gently tapping it from the centre outwards in all directions. . Be sure that the edges adhere tightly to the surface of the piece, so that the ‘stamp’ doesn’t peel away during drying and firing, remove any excess slip from the edges with a small paint brush or wet finger and carefully smooth the area.