Learning some new skills with Kathryn
October 07, 2023

Monoprint and underglaze transfer workshop with Kathryn Borg. Kathryn very kindly showed me some new decorating techniques using coloured slips and underglazes. First we created an underglaze transfer using paper (it needs to be thin paper like newspaper/rice paper). We used black underglaze in a squeezy applicator bottle, sketched an image on the paper then traced around with the underglaze. Here are some images of the process:


Then we rolled out a slab of wet clay and smoothed out the surface so we could apply our image. Placing the underglazed side against the clay we then gently patted it down on to the clay surface, using a damp sponge to carefully wet the paper (don’t use too much water). Then we used a kidney to slowly and gently push the underglazed paper onto the clay. Once smoothed down you can slowly peel the paper away to check the underglaze has transferred onto the clay. If not just put the paper back down and go over it again with the kidney. (apologise for my blurry action shot photos)


Next we did monoprinting, this process builds up layers of coloured slips to create an image, working in reverse. The first layer we used the same process as above with underglaze and then covered it up with layers of different coloured slip. The first layer will actually end up being the front of the image once on the clay. You can see in the middle photo most of the black lines are now filled over and cant be seen, the 3rd photo is the final print applied to the clay where you can see the lines again but flipped the opposite way around. If you were to use text or numbers you would need to write then on backwards so that on the final print the come out the right way. Hope this makes sense.


Playing around with different coloured slips to transfer a patterned surface onto the clay body.  I chose blue, yellow and terracotta (some colours/glazes don’t show true until they are kiln fired) in a stripped pattern. I had extra slip still on the paper shown in image 3 (below) so was able to play around and alternate the direction of the strips as seen in image 4.



Kathryn also showed me how to use screen prints on top of the clay to build up extra layers of image/pattern. Here the screen is applied and smoothed down so it adheres to the clay, then she applied thick slip gently on top. Once peeled away you can see the fine details of the image on the clay (image 3). You can also use underglazes through the screen however they are a lot more runny so they are best applied with a sponge sparingly otherwise it will bleed under the stencil and blur the image.



I really enjoyed discovering these techniques and having a play around. Its something I definitely what to explore further within my practice as it has allowed me to be free and explore colour more.

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