Creating and using bisque stamps is a unique way to make personalized impressions on ceramic ware.
Roller Bisque Stamps
1. Draw a design for the stamp on a piece of white computer paper, taking care that the end points on each side match up. When the paper is rolled up so that the ends meet, the drawing should create a continuous design. To help the ends meet exactly, I will often fold the paper into quarters lengthwise and use the half or quarter marks as starting and ending points. Below is an example of a roller stamp pattern.
2. Roll out an even, thick coil of clay, making sure that it is thick long enough to fit the pattern. Wrap the pattern around the coil, using pushpins to fasten it in place. With a wire tool, trim off the excess clay at each end. With a pen or a very dull pencil, trace your pattern. The impression from the tracing will serve as an outline for carving.
3. Using the traced outline, carve out the stamp. Many different tools may be used. I personally prefer a sharpened paintbrush end, a broken hack-saw blade, and two very old Kemper wire carving tools given to me by a friend. Keep in mind that the carved stamp will become the negative of the actual impression made in the clay. Where the stamp is carved inward is where the impression will be raised up.
4. Several smaller, less detailed stamps can be made by slicing the extra coil into round peices and then texturing the outer rims. I like to put random marks and carvings in these smaller stamps. In combination with larger stamps, they make excellent borders.
5. When the stamps are finished, allow them to dry to leather hard. Gently remove the clay from the center of the stamp to create a hollow cylinder. It is important not to leave the stamp too thick, making an explosion in your kiln, or too thin, creating a weak and brittle stamp.
6. Bisque fire the stamps. All the stamps shown are bisqued to cone 06.
Below is the finished bisque stamp and what it looks like when rolled on a slab of clay.
A great informational article on how to make skinny roller bisque stamps can be found on the web at:
How to Make Ceramic Roller Stamps by Suzi Rhae