Monday, January 19, 2009

How Do You ?

I am curious, how do you sign your pottery? Above is a ceramic disc with my initials impressed with a stamp and my signature. See how clear the stamp is compared to my signature. But the stamp is, well, so plain looking and not very artistic. I scribed my signature with the back of a needle too, but it doesn't show up very well. For some pieces, I'll continue to use my signature, but sometimes the piece is so small I can't fit my signature on it. Stamps are quick and easy to use, they make a clean impression in the clay, and are much more visible and clean looking on the ceramic piece than my hand drawn signature tends to be.

Do you use a mark on your pottery? The stamp shown above with my initials is an inexpensive rubber stamp I had made and I use it without ink. I'd like to settle on a bit more stylized mark and either carve it in clay or have one made up, perhaps with a square border or circle around it. I'd like to stick with one type of mark or signature for all the ceramic pieces I make. Do you stamp some of your pottery pieces and sign other pieces?

We're all pretty familiar with famous ceramic marks or artist signatures, such as those of Newcomb pottery above. Signatures or marks are a way of identifying the maker of the pottery when the ceramic pieces has left the artist's hands or studio. Here's a signature of Louis Comfort Tiffany.

I thought deciding on a mark for my pottery was going to be so simple and the more I try to make something up, the more ideas I come up with. I need help narrowing down the choices. So I thought I would see how you sign your pieces, thinking this might help me make a decision. Looks like the star symbol was used with Meissen pottery throughout history.

Look at these Japanese marks, they are art in themselves.

Below are some ideas I've come up with, please let me know what you think. Since my name is Linda Starr, I thought I would use the L and the S or a star symbol. Do you think using the star symbol is too hokey? Please keep in mind I quickly made the examples below out of block letters, but they can be changed into more stylistic or script style letters or hand drawings. For now I've left off a border around the examples.

Example 10 is left blank on purpose, because that's going to be what I decide - that is - if I can ever decide. Perhaps if I learn how you sign your pottery, I'll be able to make a decision.

Do you hand sign each piece of your pottery? Do you vary the way you sign your pieces? Do you change from year to year? Do you put a date on your pieces? I'd love to hear your thoughts. How do you sign or mark your pottery? As always, thank you for your comments.


  1. I like #10. Have you considered just L*S?

  2. I have a wee little stamp for pot bottoms, and my GR fit together beautifully, a little like your 6 here!

  3. Hi Linda I like 5-6-8
    Or should it be LE*
    We have a stamp for Whynot Pottery
    Then we both sign using our first name on some items.
    Our initials are the same- MH- and MH

  4. I really like the ones with the star in them.

    I sign all of my pots with some really neat old steal stamps and just do 'ben.' My initials are PBS, and I don't want people to think that my pots are made by a tv network :)

    Here is a post about them on my blog:

  5. hi Linda-
    I agree with Ben. I think it's cool that you can use a graphic element to symbolize your name. A star is wonderful. I like #7. I'm making a small Nautilus Shell stamp that incorporates a C and S and will mark into the pieces. I used to have a winged heart, which I loved, but it was too-too for the guys.

  6. This really has me thinking more about this, which is really good. Hmmm I usually write my first name and the year, like Amy 09. Will take a pic of that. For yours, as you can tell the responses are so varied. I like LES, #5, and #6; simple is good. Of course, this is your call in the end.

  7. Hi Linda I always sign my last name with underglaze.
    I vote for #7. I would use a star symbol since you can.

  8. Hi Cinderlish, nice to see you here. Number 10 it is, I think I am leaning towards adding the star and the L and the S because if someone has the same initials then mine can be differentiated. Thanks so much for your input.

    Hi Gary, after I printed these up I was leaning towards my number 6 as my favorite. Thanks.

    Hi Meredith, funny how both of your signatures are the same initials, kind of convenient and confusing all at the same time. E is for my middle initial if I use them in a row it looks like my name is les though - another alias, but with the star symbol it wouldn't be, thanks.

    Hi Ben, I'm going right to your post to check it out, thanks so much, the old steel stamps sound so neat.

    Hi Cindy, I like the idea of the nautilus shell, something unique is always nice and it's something a little added extra, thanks for the vote of confidence about using the star.

    Hi Amy, I was kind of thinking along your lines - simple is good, I have been thinking about this for a while and had this post in my drafts for some time, thinking and thinking and now that I am starting back to class I decided I better just get organized, decide on something and do it. I'm was thinking I'd have a log of all my pieces, then I would know when I made them, but as time goes by, I see I don't always have time for the log - best intentions and all but no time - I may think about a date too - have to see about that one.

    Hi Mary, nice to see you here. I have one of those underglaze pencils which doesn't burn out at Cone 10 and if I forget to sign I can write in with that, but for some reason seeing the impressed signatures on other pottery has always drawn me in. I am going to have to look more at other potters's signatures. Here I go again, over thinking the whole process. Another vote for a star. I am so glad I posted this because I kind of wanted to use the star and now I feel much better about it. Thanks so much.

  9. Wow, I just looked at my examples. I don't know what happened to the photo, it kind of makes my eyes hurt to look at it. I did those up in a photo editing program and it looked like a white background in the draft but not on this screen - oh well - no one has complained so far, sorry if it hurts your eyes.

  10. I like #1, 6, 3, 4 .. they'd all would work well for a chop mark.

    There are lots of philosophies of how pots should be signed or marked.. whether to date them, whether to sign, stamp, etc. I guess the key is to be persistent.

    I usually sign the bottoms of my pots with my name (or my studio name), the year, and place. It leaves little question as to who made the pot or where it came from.

    There is a prob, you are right, with pots with miniscule feet, such as a teabowl or a mini. Right now I just initial and date those. I can certainly see where a small stamp would be advantageous.

    I usually use an old dead ballpoint pen or a stylus for signing the bottoms. I find it more "flowy" for adding a signature than using a pin tool.

  11. RE my comment above, I meant to say the key is to be *consistent*, not persistent ..sheesh.

  12. Hi Linda - I just ordered at stamp ( It's a Christmas present from my husband. I am using my logo from Mountain House studios. I've been signing my name in the wet clay & just unhappy with the burrs. The guy at claystamps can create from just your ideas or original artwork.
    I like number 7 as well. I like pots signed with underglaze too - but that seems too time consuming.

  13. Hi Anne, how about persistently consistent - up to this point I haven't been consistent in signing my pots. I'll have to try the ballpoint pen. I like that you put where your pot came from. The tea bowl size is what I have been thinking of - that's where the initials, chop or mark will come in handy. I'lll have to give more thought to the datess. Thanks so much for your input.

    Hi Judy, I had heard about claystamps, but since I haven't been able to decide on one signature I have never gotten around to ordering one. The burrs have been getting to me too. On porcelain they aren't too bad but on stoneware they are worse and then if I don't sign at just the right dryness either it isn't legible after firing or it's rough. That's why I thought of the stamp - that rubber stamp I use actually makes quite a nice impression in the clay but I'll bet it will break down over time. My command over the brush strokes isn't always the best for underglaze. You have given me an idea just now. I might make some test tiles with signatures and see how they all look. Thanks so much for your ideas.

  14. I think of the choices you have I prefer 1. I know a lot of people, including myself, would use stamp like this to sign your pots on the outside of the pot, rather than the bottom. You obviously want to have your glaze over the stamp such that it won't obscure it. If you really want to use your name written out, which is hard to do unless your clay is grog-free, then you can get a brass stamp made and get a really finely detailed stamp you can use.

  15. Hi Deborah, I think I am going to make up several sizes. On some of my sculptural pieces I don't want it visible, then on some I do. I'll probably end up carving up a couple of variations and see how they work out. I think this all stemmed from my signature being rough on stoneware. I think I'll wait a while on the brass stamp. Thanks for you help.

  16. You have some wonderful possibilities, Linda. I like #7 myself.

    When is your barrel firing? :)

  17. Hi Becky, I just got more wood, eucalyptus which burns hot, got my chemicals yesterday, copper carbonate, copper oxide and red iron oxide and also picked up some Chore Boys and fertilizer. Tomorrow my husband and I are going to a nearby cabinet shop, they have set aside two barrels full of hardwood saw dust for me without any melamine in it and we will also pick up a straw bale tomorrow too. I've been waiting forever for the clay pieces I made to dry so I can bisque them. Several friends said they would bring ware over and they haven't gotten around to it, so my first firing may be a test firing with just a few of my things, probably in a week or two. I might use oen of the small barrels instead of the large one. I think once I do the first firing I may be hooked and then firings will progress more quickly after that, until the hot weather arrives. I will definitely post about it - I have been working on the organization of it all as you can see. Thanks for your support.

  18. Hey Linda, I actually have a couple of stamps; some made in class, and I also have a wooden stamp from my travels to Japan: my name in Japanese letters!

    I actually like the idea of using the star in #7 as well (as some comments suggest above :). You should really make use of your great last name! Or, you could just use a star with your signature.

  19. Hi Mel, that is really cool you have a stamp written in Japanese. I am thinking of using the star, I just have to get carving and back wards or mirror image. I may have to write it down and then photoshop it and then print it and oh jeez, whatever I need to do to just get it done.

  20. My first choice is #7! I like it for the simplicity of it and also the play on your last name. ;)

    I do like #1 if you're going for your initials.

  21. Hi Cynthia, I guess I better get busy and carve a few up. I am so glad you posted about chops too, I had forgotten all about this goal of mine. I started making pinch pots and sculptures and preparing for my barrel firing and have been really distracted by all that. So many ideas and so little time. Thx.


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