Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
rayaldridge

Signature Stamps

Recommended Posts

I have to confess that over the last forty or so years, most of my pots have been marked either with my signature or initials scratched into the base of the pot.  But lately I've noticed that a nice clean stamped mark is much better looking, at least to my eyes.  Recently I designed a stamp for future pots that has a slightly stylized adaptation of my initials, and I like it better.

 

How do other potters feel about this issue?  My excuse for the scratched signature is basically laziness and not paying enough attention to that detail, but I'm sure other folks have different thoughts on the matter, and I'd love to hear them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I recently heard of this website: http://www.claystamps.com

I'm not sure how the cost compares to the other ones you mentioned. But I have seen coupon codes for this one every once in a while..

 

I like the idea of creating my own stamp but am unsure of design at the moment. Since I'm just a hobby potter, that's just fine. I have recently started adding slip to the bottom of my pots (different color clay from the one that threw with) after trimming and scratching a design through the slip once it's dry.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My stamps are just carved out of porcelain and bisqued.  I'm too cheap to pay someone to make something I can easily make for myself.  Plus, it seems as if a machined stamp might not be appropriate to a handmade pot.

 

A lot of good potters do use a scribed signature, and it can look pretty nice if you possess good penmanship. A lot of other porcelain potters use a colored slip and scribe through it, and that really does stand out. I guess I see the stamp as an addition to the surface decoration.  You do have to be careful if you're using thick opaque glazes that could obscure the stamp if they cover it, but in that case, you can put the stamp on a bare foot or inside the foot ring.

 

My pot making career has been very episodic.  I started over 40 years ago, but I've taken several lengthy time-outs.  When I come back from one of these, as I recently did, I find that I tend to up my game, and pay attention to stuff I might have neglected to pay attention to in the past.  The stamped signature is one of those details that I must not have considered important in the past, but... time to pay attention.  You only get so many years in life.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest JBaymore

The problem with "potters marks" is that unless a person knows "the code"....... they cannot easily identify the maker, should they wish to.  From a marketing point of view, does not "help the cause".

 

Ditto for initials.  (Is that stylized "JB" a John Baymore or a John Britt?)  In the case of initials then they are then depending on stylistic aspects (if they even know them) to narrow it down.

 

I've used a number of approaches over the years.  You can date work a bit based on the signature. Some people even do this change deliberately and with some structure. (If you find any pots labeled "OEW" ....  particularly raku ones...... that is me....... and you have some old and somewhat rare "Otis Earthworks" pieces from the very early 70s when I was in Otis, MA.) 

 

Now I use my signature on all but very tiny forms.  Engraved with a rounded point tool. 

 

(Please folks... don't sign with a needle tool!!!! Nasty quality of line and sharp after it is fired.)

 

best,

 

.......................john

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Those are good points John.

 

I haven't ever been able to make a signature look good with any tool. I have tried wipeout tools with rubber ends. I have tried trimming tiny loop tools, needle tools, pencils, everything.

 

What is a rounded point tool? I have googled it, and looked through numerous clay sites and I can't find anything labeled rounded point tool. I am sure it is something stupidly simple that I am missing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a stylus.  look at michaels or something similar in the scrapbook section.  people use these to emboss paper through shapes like stencils made of copper.  the small one is great for signing names.  the bigger ones are handy for making various textures.  they are also sold through clay suppliers.

 

last week i tried to read the scrawl someone did on the bottom of a really nice vase.  someone else picked it up when i put it down and asked if i had figured it out.  neither of us could read more than the second word, "creek".  she bought it.  i found 5 other pieces badly signed.

 

 

 WHY not take an extra 30 seconds and do something legible????? :angry:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have said it before here that when I sign a lot of my work, especially bigger pieces I will use a piece of shopping bag plastic on the pot and sign it with a pencil or other tip like John Baymore suggests. This is usually on larger pieces. When doing mugs smaller bowls, etc I use a pencil like wooden rib that I have rounded the point on with a little sandpaper after heating it lightly over a flame. That seems to harden the point a bit, and after being dipped in hot paraffin it will slide over the surface quite well. I do like to use an Old English lead letter stamp with the letter R to finish things out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got two lovely pewter handled stamps (that I designed) from the folks at  http://www.4clay.com/ just a while ago. The company owner was very accommodating and made sure I was satisfied with the final product/image. They are easy to use and the letters are nice and clean. One is a small 1/4" L oval with LeeU centered and the other is a 11/4" circle that has my e-mail and web address around the edge. I have not yet fired anything but they look great on the greenware.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John, you make some excellent points.  But I'm never going to be a famous potter; that ship has sailed, which leaves me free to be primarily concerned with the total effect of the object.  Even if it makes the author of the work less apparent, to me the beauty and visual integrity of the object are more important than any other considerations.  I have to say that I like the stamped sigs I've used recently a lot better than the ones I used to scribble on my pots.

 

In practical terms, no one will ever mistake my work for Robert Arneson's.  So if I sign a pot with my stamped initials, I'm probably good.

 

In theoretical terms, I think a potter should strive to make his or her work so thoroughly their own that the pots they produce can't be mistaken for those of any other potter.  I realize that some of us, and me in particular, are so far from that ideal that it remains a purely theoretical goal... but most days it strikes me as a valuable one.

 

My favorite English potter is Richard Batterham, who works in the tradition pioneered by Leach.  I think he does it better than anyone else.  He also doesn't sign his work at all.  That might be frustrating to collectors, but I don't think it's hurt him too badly.

 

Ah well.  I should know better than to wade into matters of aesthetic choice, where I am certainly out of my depth almost immediately, like a Munchkin in the Marianna Trench.  The last time I devoted any substantial effort to proselytizing in that direction, I wrote a crabby essay for Ceramics Monthly (October 1990) which was not well received by those who thought I was chiding them. 

 

One of these days I'll learn my lesson.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think your right that we should strive for a style that is our own and be recognized for that, but putting our makers mark doesn't take away from that in any way. Some people really value having something signed over something unsigned. Even if your not famous or never plan to be, people like knowing who gave them the pot or who made it, at least I know I do. It allows you to track the history of the pot as it is handed down through generations, passed on, sold, etc. 

 

But this is just my opinion, I dont think any of us can be wrong in any way. My dad tells me constantly that I should sign my full name and not put JR. But the fact is I dont sell anything yet, so I just put JR, when I get around to selling my pots I will sign my full name for sure, because I will be so proud of my work at that time that I want people to want to look me up and find more pots by me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I feel that signing a work of art does have more value than just stamping it as it becomes a more personal representation of something created by someone. I see many people turn pieces over to look for a signature. All of my pottery is signed by me and always needs a little clean up but that's just another small step in finishing a piece. I have considered getting an initial stamp to add to my signature but I guess I'm just too lazy to design and order something.

 

- Paul

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll bring in another thought that I have also posted before. I was taught in art in HS, in Colleges, and then I taught in both. I was required to sign my work, and required my students to do the same. I believe that putting my name on something I have done is my stamp of worth. Not just for myself, but for future generations. My grandfather had a room full of family artifacts. I have a showcase in the homestead LLC that has much of it. Many of the pieces like the castle in a bottle, carved wooden chains and pliers, or even the small drawings and pictures do not have any names on them. I don't remember who made them, and in the future others that know will be gone. Same goes with my pots. Even if I do not sell a thing, they will continue on. Some may be around for many generations, and no one will know that a Rice made them, or even who the Rice was.  They will never make it to the Smithsonian, but someone will have a shelf, or a case with one or two of my pots or even a wall with my drawings, etchings or watercolors. I owe it to them and myself to sign my pieces.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the signatures should be readable, if not for the present day, for generations to come.  I use a fine needle

tool made from a blow gun dart to sign my name, date, cone fired to, and the lbs. of clay used to make the

vessels.  If there is a question of what it is, I write that down also, i.e. "French butter Bell" as opposed to

a "British Butter Keeper".  When the items are bone dry, they are all smoothed over with a Scotch-brite scouring

pad and when bisqued, stain with iron oxide, to bring out the signature.  (I don't like trying to find out a signature by

squinting and holding the vessel just right in the light to see who made it.)  Nor do I like seeing a signature that

takes up the entire bottom...its tells me that the signature is more important than the vessel. (IMHO) ;>)

But, For those who wish to use stamps, I think there should be a transition period where the vessel is signed

and stamped, and later just stamped.  Otherwise, there will be a new kid on the block that suddenly appears

making, glazing and stamping the same stuff Jane Doe has been making for the last 15 years.

If I'm buying, and see two identical cups and one is stamped and one signed, I'm going with the signed cup.  On

the other hand, if I have made 2 identical cups and plan to make a trade with another crafter and one cup is

signed and the other isn't, I'll use the unsigned cup to trade with.

Signing and dating pottery is more personal.

See ya.

Alabama

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll bring in another thought that I have also posted before. I was taught in art in HS, in Colleges, and then I taught in both. I was required to sign my work, and required my students to do the same. I believe that putting my name on something I have done is my stamp of worth. Not just for myself, but for future generations. My grandfather had a room full of family artifacts. I have a showcase in the homestead LLC that has much of it. Many of the pieces like the castle in a bottle, carved wooden chains and pliers, or even the small drawings and pictures do not have any names on them. I don't remember who made them, and in the future others that know will be gone. Same goes with my pots. Even if I do not sell a thing, they will continue on. Some may be around for many generations, and no one will know that a Rice made them, or even who the Rice was.  They will never make it to the Smithsonian, but someone will have a shelf, or a case with one or two of my pots or even a wall with my drawings, etchings or watercolors. I owe it to them and myself to sign my pieces.

 

This is how I feel about it. I want my great great grandkids to go, oh hey is that a pot GGgrandpa made?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All great and valid points in favor of a signature.  I used to feel the same way myself, but that was at least partly because I once hoped my work would end up being collectable.

 

I'd already decided to go with a stamp when I saw the collection of yunomi I mentioned in another thread,

 

http://www.myteabowls.com/Pages/PottersSearch.aspx

 

but looking through the hundreds of potters in that collection, I was struck by the number of great potters who used stamps rather than signatures.  For example, this was the approach used by Bernard Leach, who was in a sense my original teacher.  I'd just returned from Vietnam in 1971 when I found his book in the Las Vegas library, and I was immediately smitten with the lust to make pots.  Bernard Leach, it must be said, was a calligrapher of undoubted talent, but chose the stamp instead of a signature.  My guess is that he was in some way imitating the anonymous folk potters of China and Korea.  And it may have been his enormous influence on the craft that caused so many of his contemporaries (and esthetic descendants) to use the stamp, too.

 

Anyway, looking at all those teabowls by potters I admire was the precipitating reason I posted this thread.  Thanks, everyone, for a very interesting discussion!  Next time I take some photos, I'll post pics of my stamp.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My stamp is an old metal type set letter B that I came across at an antique store.  The font reminded me of one (Cheltenham) that I was a bit fond of when I worked on a student newspaper in a prior life.  Probably of more significance to me than the folks who buy my pottery.  For a time, I stopped marking or signing my pottery; and customers noticed.  Now, when they see the B, they know it is a "signed" piece. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Pres; your stamp/signature is more than just an identifying mark. The quality or the lack thereof tells the viewer about your work ethics and attention to detail. My signature (i use a rubber tipped "paint clean out tool") has never been extremely legible, but its mine, and I only use it on larger pots for three reasons; 1. a small foot ring doesnt give me enough room to comfortably write,  2. I want my larger works to have a level of distinction from my smaller functional pots, and 3. I make thousands of small pots a year, 20 seconds a pot adds up 8,000 times later.  On my smaller pots I use a very clean and distinct stamp that was made by jetstamps. There are plenty of foundries/fabricators which will make you a nice stamp if your willing to pay $100+ (if you plan to use for the rest of your life its not that expensive). My stamp is a combination of my initials which I designed into something I liked and fit the style of my work. If your stamp changes, or you use other stamps to signify other qualities be sure to give an identification code to your patrons like this one: http://hewittpottery.com/identifying-stamps-from-hewitt-pottery/. I once bought a woodfired mug from a thrift store, and it just so happened that his initials were also S.H. Its bound to happen that there will be another maker with your intials and your specific design is the only way someone will know the difference.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't ever sold pottery or my art. I have sold jewelry that I made. I couldn't sign that but it was importatant for me to give the buyer a list of all materials involved.

I think everything should be signed. I think we are too removed from what it takes to make everything around us. There was a point where modernity was not having a makers mark.

I like signatures , makers marks. I love the idea of having the cone, maybe what glaze. A mark is different than a signature. So a signature can only be used by the person signing. A makers mark can belong to the studio- so if a student is helping or an apprentice, a makers mark can be stamped by them as well. I don't think I could sign something that a helper helped me with , but I would not have a problem stamping my mark into it.

I think putting as much info as possible like also date and place is neat too. Unless it would seem weird selling last years inventory, at a show 600 miles away. That might be off putting, or not.

I saw some oxide pens . I think I am going to buy a bright orange one to write info on the bottom.I love bright orange. Of course I won't need to worry about signing yet, but having a visual diary of the progression of my working time stamped w info onthe bottom will come in handy . Jolie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always picture my pottery ending up on Antiques Road Show (which of course will still be on whatever passes for TV in 200 years) and the expert talking about the mark I made like they do. If I make the signature too easy to read I could be putting a future antique expert out of a job and I wouldn't want to do that!

 

Currently I carve my initials a bit stylized and the year somewhere on the piece. I may get a stamp of my signed initials made at some point, I can't decide yet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Adding to the stamp ideas.

Super sculpty has worked well for me.

I find it to be a quick way to make texture stamps and it would probably be easy to make a signature stamp.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.