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  • Writer's pictureN L Ceramics

Faded Graffiti on a mug – Mono Printing onto clay

The locked down, locked in feeling of the world through 2020 and into 2021 can take a toll on anyone’s creativity. I’ve been busy outside of my tiny studio, doing my replacement rolls of teacher, nurse, cook, cleaner and chief of infection control so the effort to get back into making with clay has been quite a challenge these past weeks. I find that reaching into my muscle memory, rather than my creative mind, helps to wake the later up, so I made some mugs. They are easy for me to make at this stage in my clay development. They didn’t use to be, they used to be heavy, awkward things that were unsatisfying to drink from. Now they are a comfortable weight with an excellent stability, they nestle into your hand if you hold their waist, or are firmly held by the handle with plenty of room for your fingers, and they hold, what is my opinion of, a proper amount of liquid.

With these blank canvases I can experiment with many different decorating techniques, so expect some alternative designs in the near future. The first technique I tried was Mono Printing. This is the simple use of thin slip (liquid clay) painted onto newsprint paper and then used to print simple designs onto the body of a leather hard piece of clay. One colour (mono) one print. But the great thing is that they can be layered, to create a depth to a design that you don’t get with other techniques. I also like the way the slip transfers onto the clay so that it looks like faded fabric or worn out graffiti.

This video shows the process. I learnt that the newspaper needs to stay wet for the transfer of the slip to the clay, if it is too dry the slip does not want to come off, and you peel back your paper to a disappointing result. What you paint onto your newsprint paper is up to you, and what designs you draw with slip, or through the paper onto your clay body is unlimited. I kept to a simple layered design – like those graffiti walls that are overlayed with many different colours and signatures.

If you have questions, or would like to commission a set of ‘graffiti mugs’ use my contact box to drop me an email.

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