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How to Create Spongeware or Spatterware: Article or Project

Suitable greenware
silk or natural sponge
assorted underglazes
wax-resist emulsion
cleaning tools
suitable brushes
smooth paint palette

More Details

The technique known as Spatter Ware or Sponge Ware was developed in England early nineteenth century. It was a very popular technique for inexpensive pottery and ceramic ware. Even today, if you peruse the home interior and accent catalogs, you will see evidence of this technique in current decorating trends. The technique lends itself to most any decorating theme and though blue and brown was the most prevalent colors, modern day artists and decorators utilize a multitude of color choices.

The process is relatively simple and requires little skill. Color is applied in a web-like pattern using a sponge. Silk, or natural sponges work best as they have a coarser weave (pattern of holes). The artist can opt for all over application or selected areas. Though originally intended for use with glazed items, it can be modified for use on non-fired finishes.

For the basic technique, begin with a clean piece of greenware with little or no design. Make sure all seams and blemishes have been removed and the item has been wiped with a water-damp sponge to remove all dust particles. If you select a canister, box or other container, be sure to leave enough room around the lid to accommodate glaze application. Though most often applied over the plain background of the greenware, he artist can under glaze the item with any color of choice before sponging on any color.

Determine if you want all over application or for some areas to remain the base/background color. If you are wanting a fine, clear delineation on the detailing, apply a wax-resist emulsion to the areas you want protected. If you have a detailing or other design, paint that area first then cover with emulsion.

Select your choice of under glaze (or two complementing colors). Using a tile or ceramic palette, pour a good size puddle of under glaze color on your palette beginning with the lightest color if you are using more than one color. Mix water into the puddle to thin it to 50/50 water/paint ratio. Dampen your sponge in water and squeeze dry (newer sponges work best as they are firmer). Take the damp sponge and press it lightly into the puddle of paint. With a light pressure, apply the sponge to your greenware. Repeat the process until you have a lacy coverage over your entire piece. For best results, only press your sponge once or twice before reloading more paint. In the case of under glazes, you may see a paint impression. If it is applied too light, you may see it; however it may not sow up once fired.

After covering the piece with one coat, rinse your sponge and again squeeze dry. You will then apply your second color in the same manner, however you will not want it to be quite so heavy as your first color in order that the first color will show-up when fired.

Once you have applied all spattering/sponging, you may finish off any detailing you desire. If you have applied wax emulsion, you do not need to remove it as it will fire off.

Fire your piece with lid (if any) in place to appropriate cone/temperature. After bisque fire, apply transparent glaze both inside and outside of your piece per manufacturer instructions. When thoroughly dry, stilt and re-fire your item.

NOTE: This technique can be used over unfired MATTE glazes as well as non-fired stain finishes.


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How to Create Spongeware or Spatterware

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