Engraving Clay

Has anyone ever engraved clay, like before it is fired in a kiln? My thoughts are to engrave some patterns into it before assembling the flat pieces and then firing it. Not sure if this is possible, just want to see if anyone else has experimented with this.


Huh. This isn’t ringing any bells. Of course there’s a lot of precedent with doing it after the fact, with ceramic tiles and such.

A lot of the time lasering amorphous mineral surfaces ends up with melting/glassing or slagging of the surface, without any real penetration. This makes sense, because there’s not a lot of organic material to vaporize and remove, so in effect you superheat the small parts of the matrix (sandstone, soapstone), and get really strange effects.

As for clay, the moisture content adds an interesting dimension. I can’t guess what it might do, but I suspect it won’t hurt anything to try it. If no one chimes in, you should go be the first!

Here’s some previous clay posts, just by doing a simple “clay” search:


This one is particularly relevant:


I don’t think I’ve seen it mentioned it before and you can be the first! I had a friend give me some raw clay to experiment with but I got distracted and didn’t use it for a long while and it’s dried out. :-/ If you try it let us know how it goes.

Funny you should mention that! I have been wanting to try that since ordering my Glowforge. However what I was thinking was that once the clay reaches 800F it becomes metasilicate and will no longer soften in water so if the engraved clay was soaked, then everything that did not reach metasilicate would soften and wash away, leaving what could be an amazing bit of delicate work that could then be glazed and fired. There are a number of Issues I can imagine, but only testing would tell. I would, however, flatten the clay between two sheets of light paper as the operation could toss loose bit away with the fan and the paper would hold on to those parts that were not hit with the laser.


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