Water etching is a thing?

If you have been following my posts over the past few months, you may have noticed that I am firmly pursuing a long delayed dream: become a potter, in one shape or another. I still have a dayjob while I slowly but surely get the hang of things (give me a couple of years!) In the meantime, I am getting organised:

. As I cannot leave the house and there are no potters in my immediate neighbourhood, I am studying hard, learning from videos by the most respected members of the pottery community who have been generous enough to share their knowledge and experience gathered over decades of hard work. I was trying out different types of clay to find out which one I like the best and made similar items with each clay: a pinch pot, a slab pot, a cookie and whatever else I happened to think about at that time. I have narrowed it down to 2 types. Ashraf Hanna Raku body and Stoneware millenium white. Both are smooth white clays. The first one has a wide firing range so I could use it with the Raku technique as well as fire higher for other purposes. The second one is just what I needed for building quirky pots - I seem to be pulled in that direction! BUT... I like to finish things nicely, so when I assembled my first works for a photo shoot, I noticed quite a few uneven spots I did not like. Out came the sponge!

For the pieces above, that sort of worked and I got lovely edges on everything. But then I tried the sponge on this piece and .. oh well... It WAS smooth with some rough edges but turned into a heavily textured and unpleasant to touch piece... totally opposite from what I had in mind.

Around that time, I decided it was a good idea to join the Scottish Potters Association and learn from the best. During my first evening chat with a wonderful bunch of lady potters, I happened to mention my disappointment with what happened to my piece. Due to this being a grogged clay, my sponging removed the finer particles of they clay, leaving the grog exposed. I should have used a rib instead. I learned quickly! It appeared I had done some unintended "water etching". "Water etching? Is that a thing? "On purpose" water etching is a technique whereby you add a pattern on leather hard or bone dry clay with a resist such as wax or latex, and then gently sponge the surrounding clay away. The remaining pattern is raised and can be decorated further after bisque firing. I quite liked the idea so tried it out on these pieces and painted the recessed areas with underglazes.

I am very curious to see how they look when fired... 12 days to go now! Are you counting down with me?


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