When the clay is still wet, I use my initial paper drawing to lay over the tile; using a stylist to gently push the lines into the surface of the clay slab. After the drawing has been traced, I cover it liberally with a white slip. The lines are recreated in the drawings through a sgraffito process, with the paper pattern as reference, into bone dry clay. Sgraffito means to scratch into the clay; it comes from the Italian word graffiare – to draw. Quite often, I lose the faint depressions left from the stylist under the slip and end up completely re-drawing parts of the image. My drawing tool of choice is a print maker’s dry point tool. I suppose you could use just about anything that will dig into the surface, but I like the weight and feel of the spiral shaped tool.
After the bisque firing, black slip is applied to cover the entire tile. Then, I go about finding the drawing again. Much like a print maker inks a plate, I begin to rub off the black slip with a wet sponge to rediscover the image; directing the dark slip into lines and shadows.