Tag Archives: sgraffito design

The Sgraffito Fantastico

Sylvian Meschia céramiques - blue surface glaze with sgraffito incision to reveal white colour underneath

Sylvian Meschia céramiques

Vessel by lessgreedcompany Sgraffito black on white background design

Sgraffito Vessel by lessgreedcompany, Etsy

Sgraf-trio tumblers - geometric patterned surface decoration

Sgraf-trio tumblers – Demon Potters

‘My sgraffito pots use one of the darkest black slips I have found. I enjoy the challenge of getting the pots to just the right dryness – not too dry so that the cuts are clean but not so wet that the slip is marked by the handling. My designs originate from sources as diverse as an African drum to a stand of bamboo (but not a printed circuit board, as my brother suggested!)’

Italian sgraffito stoneware vase - incised face of a woman on the surface

Italian sgraffito stoneware vase

Stacy Stanhope - what are ewe- sgraffito sheep in a field

Stacy Stanhope – ‘ what are ewe ‘

Sylvian Meschia scraffito vessel- abstract figures and geometric motifs

Sylvian Meschia sgraffito vessel


Scratching and carving clay


The word “sgraffito” is Italian, its meaning being to “scratch, write or to mark “.  Sgraffito is the technique of scratching an image through a coloured slip to reveal the body beneath. Sgraffito Pottery was once considered to be the vessels of kings. From the Byzantine emperors to the Russian czars, Sgraffito has been the earthenware for the “blue-bloods” of Europe’s finest houses. Although the technique is relatively simple , the process is time consuming and painstaking.

Sgraffito Dancing Vase – Jane Cartwright


During the 16th century renaissance  in Italy,  Sgraffito was utilised in wall art,  pottery decoration and canvas paintings. Sgraffito on walls has been used in Europe since classical times and its origins go back to Africa and Japan. It came to Europe through the Middle East. Because the Muslims were forbidden to eat from any metal wares, they had developed the decorative side of pottery to high degree. This also included the use of a sgraffito decoration. Both the North African potters and Spanish potters were imported into Italy to share their skills and techniques.  During the Reconquista of Spain, Spanish Muslim potters fled to North Africa, and to Italy and Byzantium, where their knowledge merged with the techniques of local potters to create new and exciting styles of pottery for Renaissance patrons of art. The Muslim, or Moorish, artistic styles of Spain are  described as Hispano-Moresque.

Moroccan-lustreware bowl

Hispano Moresque Brasero (Deep Dish) from Valencia, Spain 1400 CE

This bowl is 18″ in diameter and was thrown from a terra cotta clay. A white slip was then applied and designs carved using the sgraffito technique, the brown and white part of this design being the sgraffito portion. Then  overglazes of cobalt and lusters were applied to complete the design.


Sgrafitto reached its height of perfection in the 17th century at the potteries of Beauvais in France. Its use for ornamental decoration was eventually superseded by the use of the slip trailer, although in the south-west of England, the tradition of sgraffito continued well into the 19th century in the potteries of North Devon. The popular harvest Jugs quite often featured sgraffito in their rich decorative styles.

One of the reasons the Italian potters used sgraffito was that they wanted a nice white surface to decorate, just like porcelain, but the only white clay they had wasn’t strong enough to produce ceramics. So they made their plates and bowls from the readily available red clay, and coated it with white slip (liquid clay) to get the prized white surface to decorate. Sgraffito was a logical extension to this practice.

Sgraffito lizard motif with geometric patterns on a n Olla pot -by Martin Olivas Quintana

Small Sgraffito Pot Lizard Design   –  Mata Ortiz Pottery – Martin Olivas Quintana



turquoise pot with geometric patterned surface

Topham porcelain sgraffito vessel



Plate with Bbrnt orange plant motif on olive green background

Sgraffito Plate – Westmoore


ceramic vessel Cream white sgraffito design on dark clay - Crystal Nolfo Brown

White sgraffito design on dark clay – Crystal Nolfo Brown


Orange, brown, white and olive green surface geometric patterns - Insomnia Pottery

Vase by Insomnia



Contemporary pale blue tumbler by Ryan Mckenzie

Large Tumbler – Ryan Mckerley



late Renaissance palace Ramirez de Montalvo wall relief art

Sgraffito decoration on the façade of the late Renaissance palace Ramirez de Montalvo, which was built around 1568.

Mid-Century lamp base by Louis Hudson

Ceramic LampBase – Louis Hudson



Ovoid vessel with geometric sgraffito decoration by Leonal Lope Jr

Mata Ortiz Pottery, sgraffito ovoid pot – Leonel Lopez Jr



Pot with sgraffito surface design by Janet Kittenger

Hand carved stoneware vase – Janet Kitenger

 This vase wasn’t created using a sgraffito technique.  The vase was wheel thrown and then hand carved followed by glazing. The design is a original and has a unique flowing geometric wave all around. Iron oxide was applied for depth. Clear glaze was applied to some parts of the carving for highlight. The inside and rims are Kiwi glaze which fires as a blue green and turquoise-ish.

Twin handled vessell with sgraffito surface by Jim-and-Shirl-Parmentier

Jim and Shirl Parmentier



sgraffito-bunny scratched from a black glaze surface revealing white underneath

Ceramic Vase Bunny Rabbit Lepus Design – Hand Built Pottery by Calan Ree



Tapered square bottle with wavy surface decoration - Bruno Kark

Faceted Bottle – Bruno Kark




vase with sgraffito leaves and patterns - by Deb Le Air

Debra LeAir Vase



vase with sgraffito leave patterns in grey and black

Vase with sgraffito leaf surface



Peacock Grevillia Vase, 2012. Janet De Boos

‘Peacock Grevillia Vase’, 2012. Janet De Boos

Thrown porcelaineous stoneware, black underglaze, terra sigillata, sgraffito, clear glaze, overglaze decals.



Ovoid vessel with surface incisions by Ivone Shirahata

Ceramic vessel –  Ivone Shirahata

 Plate with sgraffito fish decoration by Carl Cooper, Australia

Carl Cooper – Bemboka Gallery

Dish with sgraffito fish.




Dawn Catherine Llanera.sgraffito crayon drawing of a Geisha girl

This is an illustration achieved using multiple layers of crayons with a sgraffito appplication on top by Dawn Catherine Llanera.



sgraffito demo by HIllary Kane

Hillary Kane demonstrating sgraffito decoration – flickr



deep surface texturing on ceramic vessel - The Mud Room

” I added texture to the walls by rolling the clay onto a car floor mat and I cut the darts with bevels on each edge to make a better surface for joining. “

( from The Mud Room )



Large Art Nouveau sgraffito wall mural - Cauchie House,Brussels

Art Nouveau sgraffito wall mural – Cauchie House,Brussels



Turquoise vessel with incisions and strong textures

Incised turquoise vessel

Tim Christensen sgraffito jar in bl;ack and white

‘UFO Invasion’ – Tim Christensen

Sgraffito porcelain



Tim Christensen lidded jar with sgraffito decoration of Chickadee birds

‘Chickadee Flock’ – Tim Christensen

( Gleeson Fine Art Gallery )


Raku Carved Vase - Anne Webb - spiral incisions on black surface

Raku Carved Vase – Anne Webb

This raku vase has been formed on the potter’s wheel, skillfully carved with a free-form spiral design, glazed, then fired using an American variation of the Japanese technique of raku.

Contemporary vessel with wavy surface incisions - Alan Wallwork

Vase with incised patterning   – Alan Wallwork , 1970




Sgraffito ceramic sculptural teapot by Chris Wiess‘On The Bridge’ – Chris Theiss 1989

Slab and coil built earthenware with sgraffito.



R.Geering Pottery - plate with bird and fish motifs

 Fishwife and Bird Sgraffito Plate

( R.Geering Pottery )


Mata Ortiz pottery by Leonel Lopez sgraffito nativity

 Leonel Lopez sgraffito nativity

Mata Ortiz pottery


Ernabella Ceramics,--Carlene Thompson---Tjulpu Putitja-I,-2016,-stoneware with sgraffito,-H-51

Ernabella Ceramics,–Carlene Thompson—‘Tjulpu Putitja I’, 2016,

stoneware with sgraffito, H 51cm

Ernabella Ceramics



Amazing Buffalo Shield---signed by Norman Lansing-UTE-Native American Indian-hand carved seed-SGRAFFITO---MaysFineAntiques

Amazing Buffalo Shield—signed by Norman Lansing-UTE Native American Indian hand carved seed SGRAFFITO




Ernabella Ceramics,---Tjimpuna Williams---Ngayuku Walka-IV, 2014, -stoneware with sgraffito

Tjimpuna Williams—‘Ngayuku Walka IV’, 2014,  stoneware with sgraffito

Ernabella Ceramics






R.Geering sgraffito decorated jar- Cape Cod Girl

‘Cape Cod Girl’  lidded storage jar – R.Geering

A lidded storage jar with a bird finial. The mermaid, whale, moon and fish pattern in sgraffito into a traditional red clay body is a contemporary design inspired by the old whaling song “Cape Cod Girls”.


BeckyStrickland-sgraffito lidded jar and small creamer in blue and white

Becky Strickland Sgraffito Salt Fired Cream and Sugar Set Cup (  MudFire Gallery )


Turquoise lidded jar with sgraffito wavy surface design by Paul Jeselskis

Paul Jeselskis

Caroline Airy heavy surface texture bottles in green and brown

Textured stoneware bottles – English potter Caroline Airey



Curtis Benzyl contemporary ceramic bowl - brown, green, white wavy stripes

Bowl – Curtis Benzle  1975


Benzle’s work is made with colored vitreous translucent porcelain. Much of the nonfigural imagery of his bowls is constructed from repeat patterning. Creating complexity out of essential simplicity is at the core of all his work.

( Met Museum )

Carrie Doman ceramic pitcher with bark like surface

Carrie Doman Jug – exploring natures textures through clay.

Debra LeAir sgraffito ceramic panel abstract design

Debra LeAir sgraffito ceramic panel

Off the Wheel Pottery twin handled vase in black and white sgraffito

Off the Wheel Pottery

Sylvian Meschia sgraffito vase with black, white and brown motifs

Sylvian Meschia




Ron-Melo black on whit sgraffito lidded jar with base

Ron Mello




Rebecca A. Grant Ceramics: Sgraffito Flower Mug

Rebecca A. Grant Ceramics: Sgraffito Flower Mug



Rachel Wolf,-Sgraffito-Baluster Vase with Picassoesque Face

Baluster sgraffito vase –  Rachel Wolf




Rachel-DePauw-sgraffito-art-nouveau-pottery Turquoise and white with sgraffito panel teapot

Rachel De Pauw




Elaine-Hind pastel coloured vase with incies and carved decoration

Elaine Hind vase



Eduardo-Perez-Rodriguez bird motif olla

Eduardo Perez Rodriguez Mata ortiz pot


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Sources Cited :- http://www.joannturner.ca/sgraffito.html