Hi Nadine,

An ordinary brush for oil or watercolor painting will do.
There may be a misunderstanding about shellac consistency. If too thick it will not penetrate into the clay, if too thin, it will crumble away while washing. Unfortunately I have only a vague idea what % I use as the bottle goes now for ages. I aim for 20 % shellac flakes in ethanol (denaturated).

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Here a picture where multiple layers of shellac have been used

I use pure shellac from the can,  and I used exactly the kind of brushes you mentioned.  I will have to keep trying other brushes,  I have many of them since I used to paint.

I love the layered look.

The reason I show this example made by layered shellac is to show that you can add new layers of shellac on areas that already have been etched. So, the step from here to 'repair' shellac resists is easily done .

Hi Nadine,

I found the original paper about spraying water for etching.

Here it is (I hope)


I just came in from the studio after repairing the balloon pot.  I will let it sit until tomorrow and re-wet and remove again.

Thanks for the PDF file,  it was very well written.  When I can spend some $ I want to try a smoother clay such as B mix. My clay has grog which I do love for throwing. 

Beautiful design. I never thought about such a strategy.  I will have to give it a try soon.

Daniel Spruyt said:

Here a picture where multiple layers of shellac have been used

I have used a similar technique using shellac as a mask and wiping with a wet sponge. The results are similar but the sponging tends to loosen the shellac. I'll have to get more courage and try the water spray method... your pieces look geat!

I used the sponge technique as well as now the spray technique. I must say that I take care to avoid soaking the pot.  I proceed by etching small areas at the time then I dry the pot with an heat gun before continuing to etch.

Depending the clay used it can start to soften quicker or slower.

I notice that you US guys are buying ready made shellac solution. Here (in good old Europe) I bought dry shellac flakes, dissolved them in ethanol, let stand overnight, and checked the viscosity (on sight) = it should be like a good quality varnish or lacquer. I wonder if that's the culprit?

Robert Coyle said:

I have used a similar technique using shellac as a mask and wiping with a wet sponge. The results are similar but the sponging tends to loosen the shellac. I'll have to get more courage and try the water spray method... your pieces look geat!


The European hardware stores must have shellac ready made in the paint department.  That is where I get mine.  I also know that as long as the shellac line is heavy in shellac that it doesn't lift.  The very thin (not the width of the mark,  the viscosity of application) will easily lift and wash away.  I like the sponging because one touches the clay and feels the relief happen. 

Could you describe the series of steps used to get this effect

I buy the ready made solution in the hardware store... too thin. I leave the lid off for a day or two to let the alcohol evaporate. This gives a nice heavy viscous solution. Like very heavy varnish. Like Danial said... you want it thick. I may have not gotten it thick enough.

You can buy dry shellac from sites on the Internet and then dissolve it in alcohol to get the thickness you want. I have not done this.

Another thought I had was using silk screen lacquer which is a little more expensive but will take more of a beating when sponging. Never tried it though. Also never tried molten wax which some people use.

My application was a little different. I made 8"x8" tiles and painted manganese slip on the leather hard MR-5 tile. I let them dry and then painted them with the shellac leaving unpainted the areas I wanted to sponge. I was making a wall panel of South West petroglyphs. The areas undercut by the sponging( through the slip and well into the stoneware clay) ,looked very much like the way rock art looks on basalt rock carving out here in New Mexico.

Next time I will try spraying water and then selectively using the heat gun to dry. Thanks for the tip Daniel.

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