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PotsbyChar

Tooling Leather Hard Clay

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I am relatively new to clay having started my journey with Ceramics in the Spring of 2010. I have notice that there is a great similarity between what is termed "leather hard" clay and actual tooling leather. I was wondering if anyone has ever tried to tool clay the way that leather is tooled?

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People have used a huge variety of stamping and carving techniques on clay, and while I don't know of anyone aiming specifically for the appearance of tooled leather, you could manage it with enough patience. Keeping the clay damp enough to work would be the big challenge, but a spray bottle could be your friend.

Now that I think of it, there was a video post here about carved tiles a month or so ago where the work looked much like tooled leather. Check it out.

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I would agree with BeckyH with checking out the CAD videos on stamping/carving...

 

Numerous ceramists have also worked in ceramics to achieve the actual appearance of leather.

 

To my mind, the well known ceramist Marilyn Levine (1935-2005) was one of the very best. Her website... http://users.lmi.net/ml/index.html features numerous photos of some of her wonderful leather-looking creations. Though she didn't do so much of the actual leatherwork tooling, her work is exemplary for its authentic leather appearance. It would merely be reflective of the individual artist's skills to be able to further work the clay, from her base, into a fully leather tooled looking work. It certainly can be done!

 

Skill and patience are the keys.

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I would agree with BeckyH with checking out the CAD videos on stamping/carving...

 

Numerous ceramists have also worked in ceramics to achieve the actual appearance of leather.

 

To my mind, the well known ceramist Marilyn Levine (1935-2005) was one of the very best. Her website... http://users.lmi.net/ml/index.html features numerous photos of some of her wonderful leather-looking creations. Though she didn't do so much of the actual leatherwork tooling, her work is exemplary for its authentic leather appearance. It would merely be reflective of the individual artist's skills to be able to further work the clay, from her base, into a fully leather tooled looking work. It certainly can be done!

 

Skill and patience are the keys.

 

 

If I remember correctly, Marilyn Levine covered her slabs top and bottom with thin plastic-almost saran wrap. This allowed her to work her pieces with the slabs covered, and slowly dried. The saran wrap was only peeled back to join. Some areas were actually stamped and the stamping would be smooth and slightly rounded where stamped-not the sharp edge shown from a stamp in leather hard clay. In this instance I think the clay should be more cheese hard so as to stamp easily enough not to puncture the saran wrap. No I never met Marilyn Levine, but read and watched as much as I could about her, and greatly admired her work.

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Yes one of my instructors in college named Don Sprague uses some tools to impress in leather hard pots. He doesn't tool quite as much as a fancy leather belt, but his pots are decorated by these stamps and tools he uses to create glaze breaking and pooling effects. His highly styled contemporary pots are an inspiration to me even now as I continue on a similar path with my own work.

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Yes I am quite a fan of Marilyn Levine. Her work is truly amazing. However, I have not seen any evidence of actual tooling on the clay in her work. Her leather pieces are mostly of soft leather products. What I am wondering about is whether anyone has done or is doing tooling of the kind you find on hard leather such as belts, wallets, handbags, and saddles. I used to do tooling years ago and am thinking about digging out my old leather working tools and experimenting on clay. Thanks for the tip about the saran wrap. I can see where that might be very helpful. I will let everyone know how this turns out when I have something finished. At least it will be fun to see what happens.

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I forgot about Marvin Blackmore, he has been doing something like what you have in mind :

 

http://www.blackmorepottery.com/

 

I met him and saw his work at the ACE show a couple of years ago; the photos don't do the work justice - the detail, precision are mind-boggling.

This year he is at SOFA Chicago, so I'll stop by and say hi to him, I'm sure he'll remember me. wink.gif

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Yes I am quite a fan of Marilyn Levine. Her work is truly amazing. However, I have not seen any evidence of actual tooling on the clay in her work. Her leather pieces are mostly of soft leather products. What I am wondering about is whether anyone has done or is doing tooling of the kind you find on hard leather such as belts, wallets, handbags, and saddles. I used to do tooling years ago and am thinking about digging out my old leather working tools and experimenting on clay. Thanks for the tip about the saran wrap. I can see where that might be very helpful. I will let everyone know how this turns out when I have something finished. At least it will be fun to see what happens.

 

Letter Stamps were used in her work, not actual tooling stamps however the process would be the same. Examples of what I am alluding to are here:

 

http://www.marilynlevine.com/artworkframeset.html and here.

 

http://www.marilynlevine.com/artworkframeset.html

 

Hope this helps.

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