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I am new to clay, both hand-building and throwing, and have been making images on pots in two ways- by painting in underglaze and by using commercially available texture mats and roller stamps.

I would like to learn to carve into the clay myself.  Can anyone recommend some good resource or resources to help me learn to do this?

I would be particularly happy for book recommendations.

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There's really not much to it. Get yourself some mini loop tools and dental picks and go for it! It'll take some practice to figure out what level of dryness you prefer your pots to be at when carving, but middle leather hard is a good place to start. For best results, use a smooth clay body like a white stoneware or porcelain- anything without grog, sand or fireclay in it.

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look for a 1970's book by charles counts titled pottery workshop.  it shows what you want to know in simple steps.  your local library can probably get a copy for you if you ask.

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Zebra tools makes neat little tools for carving. But Neil is right, you dont need them, just use what you  got and you can even make your own tools out of bent saw blades and such. 

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Thank you Neil, oldlady, and synj00.  I do have tools.

I was hoping for something on the order of the instructions one can find readily for relief carving in wood so that what one carves in is not just the equivalent of a line drawing with the lines dug in rather than drawn on.

I will start by looking for the book by Charles Counts.

Thanks, everyone.

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oh gosh Gabby there is really nothing to carving in clay.  you have to try it yourself to see which kind you like. just make little tiles and experiment. try different things from your kitchen drawer.  

there are so many layers to be discovered. try carving in clay with various level of dryness and see which ones you prefer. i am going to try using clingwrap on wet clay so i dont have to deal with burs (or i hope i dont have to deal with them). i'll use a dull point to draw  on  the clay. 

i'd read as many books as you can lay your hands on. flip through them no matter how old because you'll always find a kernel that might teach you a new technique or change your thinking. there is no one book that covers it all.  like clay inlay or buncheong. 

have you done any printing classes. woodcut or lino cut. you can apply those principles to clay too.  

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ah the indomitable Robin Hopper! You definitely wouldnt go wrong there. He has been one of my early teachers (through his books and videos)

AAAAH oldlady. Thanks for the heads up. i've notice a stylus looking tool in my daughter's nail bag.  i'll try that. 

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preeta, the REAL ball stylus design comes in many sizes.  i use them all, the smallest for signing my work and the largest to make my dragonfly body.  they are really inexpensive and last almost forever.  if you put different colors on the wood handles, you can spot the one you want quickly.

gabby, sorry, i am used to talking about "carving" when i am actually referring to your idea of a line drawing, not an actual layered removal of clay.  knowing you do not want to add clay makes me unsure of your basic idea.  somewhere in my gallery is a photo of a bowl with roses on it, they were added to the surface and then carved.

Edited by oldlady

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I know you wanted book recommendations, but I don't have any. However I have been trimming and repairing greenware for a paint-your-own-ceramics shop in exchange for their firing my work, and I've quickly learned that tricky little areas benefit from a good old X-acto knife for carving through. Regular pencil for drawing, ball-ended, loop and hook tools for carving. Seems to cause the least breakage. Also tiny sponges on sticks if you can find them, I've had to make my own because the regular ones are too big.  I too recommend leather hard clay if possible but usually end up cleaning the bone-dry stuff. 

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Thank you, Yappy.  I can catch my clay at leather hard and have an array of possible tools at hand.

I found a book on relief carving in wood. I am thinking I might draw first on separate paper what I mean to carve and color code levels of depth like people seem to do in wood carving. And a used copy of the book oldlady recommended to me is winding its way to me from a distant used bookstore.

I had hoped to get started on some tiles for experimenting, but my husband stained something wooden in his part of the basement, and I have to wait until the air no longer smells of wood stain down there.

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I have a sweet little set of carving tools about 4 inches long- various shaping chisels. I work when leather hard. To avoid flaking, spray a little water on the immediate area. Just enough to rehydrate. Carving can be tedious, but very absorbing and rewarding by the results. Enjoy.

Marcia

 

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