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When To Stamp? How To Support?

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I love using stamps (and things like leaves) to add just a touch of interest to my pieces.....but I always find myself distorting the piece and/or not getting a very good/clear impression.

 

For those of you that use stamps, at what stage do you make your impressions? How do you support the piece so it doesn't distort? Have you found certain stamp materials to work better than others? Any tips on getting a clear impression from found objects like leaves, flowers, and shells?

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are you talking about stamping thrown items?  if so, just support the inside of whatever it is with your hand or an appropriately shaped and very firm "anvil".  a round wooden ball, if it fits inside, makes a great support for stamping small items.

 

there are many utube videos of streching and thinning large jars using a mallet outside against the interior anvil.  it is one technique taught at hood college in md by Joyce Michaud.

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Yes, thrown pieces. I've seen a video or two on throwing a cylinder around a paper form, applying a stamped or rolled texture, then removing the form and stretching it to the shape you're after.

 

I just want to stamp into what I've already got shaped, though. And I feel like I'm never doing it at the right stage - cheese-hard, I end up distorting it when I try to support the spot with my fingers. Leather-hard, the stamp doesn't clearly imprint. I'm sure part of the problem is that I'm stamping a curved surface, too.

Very frustrating!

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I stamp right before or right after trimming, when the piece is leatherhard, My favorite stamps are pretty small, so I just use my fingers for support. This does leave fingerprints, but I like the fingerprints, they create some interesting glaze effects. I make most of my stamps with clay and bisque fire them. It's a good combination of "clear impression" and "no stick." I also use leaves sometimes, I place the leaf on a leatherhard pot, then roll over it with a pony roller.

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Try throwing a small rounded bowl of clay, trim it completely round and smooth. It should look almost like a ladle without the handle. Bisque it, and glaze fire it without glaze. Use this on the inside of you cylinders to support the wall while your roll/press your favorite stamp on the outside. I usually do this when the clay is cheese hard, or just before leather hard.

 

I usually don't use anything as a release agent, but have used baker's spray on large slab stamps, and that works pretty well.

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Pres mentioned ladles which made me look at my kitchen implement holders (homemade of course) and I see several candidates...wooden and manmade material serving spoons and other implements with varying degrees of curvature.  Experiment coming up!  Thanks Pres!

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Kristen Kieffer has a really great DVD that goes into a lot of detail - http://kiefferceramics.com/dvd/(I personally have this one and *love it*!!)

 

Basically, she stamps when it's what she calls "suede," which is a very soft leatherhard, and supports the back with her finger. She uses a rocking motion to get the stamp around curved edges. She makes her own stamps out of bisqued clay that she presses into a plaster mold; if it's sticky she uses a dusting of cornstarch.

 

I've used cornstarch with rubber stamps and it works nicely to keep them from sticking. But there really is a very narrow "sweet spot" for getting the stamp to impress deeply enough without distorting or cracking. I've found that some rubber stamps don't have a deep enough relief to get a good impression on a pot. You need clear lines.

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Cheese hard is basically the same as suede. Rocking motions on most stamps are important for release. However, sometimes I use a tapping motion on the inside of the pot or pressing against the stamp. Especially when the stamp is larger.

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Another trick for those of you into stamping on thrown pieces. Try throwing your cylinder first to the thickness you would make it before shaping. Use a metal rib on the outside of the cylinder to remove excess water. Use a heat gun to remove more excess exterior water, and then stamp into the piece using dry stamp. Rock to help release, don't worry about small out of round areas. When all stamped, then finish shaping your pot gently with inside fingers only on the stamped areas. I usually leave an unstamped area for a shoulder/neck accent line and a smooth neck. Works out pretty well if you are careful, might take a few attempts but is not very difficult.

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