Rubber stamps aren't just for use with paper, and customer Lindsey M. Dillon proves just that. Her beautiful stamped ceramics show us the masterpieces we can create if we just stretch our imagination.
Lindsey M. Dillon's Stunning Stamped Ceramics
We chatted with Dillon about her start in pottery, and how and why she uses custom stamps, and the inspiration she grabs from geek culture.
Tell a little bit about yourself!
My name is Lindsey M. Dillon, and I’m an award-winning Sacramento-based ceramic artist with a love of texture, a passion for the imaginary, and an appreciation for the power of story. I started my journey with clay 11 years ago, and I have been practicing it professionally for the last five years. I graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in Art in one hand and a determination to make ceramics my career in the other. As I learned the business side of the arts and continued making the figurative creature sculptures that helped me earn me my degree, I began making my geekware mugs. I wanted to make everyday items that reminded people of the narratives, characters, and ideas that have become a part of so many of our lives. Whether it’s referencing a storyline or character from a show, or suggesting that you could stumble through some trees and end up in another world, I like bringing a bit of the imaginary into our reality.
What do you use custom stamps for?
Almost all of the designs on my mugs are made with rubber stamps – I have a hefty wooden box filled with them. In addition to the Stat Mug series, I have about 20 Dungeons and Dragons race and class stamps, with more in the works. Beyond D&D, I’ve also designed stamps inspired by Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, the Studio Ghibli Films, H.R. Giger’s Alien, the Elder Scrolls video games, anime, and general geek/nerd culture references. I even have a few stamps inspired by Gothic architecture and Spiritualism (like a Ouija board planchette) that I break out in preparation for Halloween.
I use stamps in a few other ways too. If you look on the bottom of any of my mugs, you’ll see my logo – a little ball of clay pressed with a small stamp to look like a wax seal. If you meet me at an event, you’ll carry your new mug home in a hand-stamped bag. If you order from my Etsy, your thank you note will have my name and logo stamped on the front. You can imagine why I need a box to hold them all!
Why did you decide to use a rubber stamp, as compared to other tools?
I experimented a lot with other methods before I started using rubber stamps. I made my own stencils, hand-painted on designs, carved into plaster, and even tried to carve my own rubber stamps with basic printmaking tools. But ultimately, I needed something that was sturdy enough to survive life in a ceramics studio, produced indented lines that clearly showed the design in clay, and allowed me to easily and consistently reproduce an image. Finally figuring out how well rubber stamps work with clay—and having an affordable and efficient way to have my own designs made—has made a huge difference in my business.
What is the process for using a rubber stamp with pottery?
For me, using a stamp with ceramics starts with Photoshop. I spend a few hours developing and tweaking the design, and then order it through Rubberstamps.com. When it’s time for me to use the stamp on a mug, I roll out a thin slab of clay using a roller and two rulers as guides for thickness. Then, I put the stamp rubber-side-up, and place the clay slab over the top, allowing some extra clay to fall to the sides. Using a smaller wooden roller, I press the clay into the stamp, applying enough pressure to press all of the design into the clay, but not so much pressure that I make the slab too thin. Then, I scratch the slab of clay, which will help it attach securely to the mug later on. After carefully pulling the slab of clay off the stamp, I cut out the design with a small knife or a large circular cookie cutter. (Using clay that’s not too moist helps prevent ripping when it’s a large designs, or when the design has a lot of tiny details.) Then, I mark out where the stamped slab of clay will be attached to the mug, scratch that area, apply a little bit of “slip” (watered down clay that acts like glue), and oh-so-carefully press the stamped slab of clay onto the mug. Then, I spend a couple minutes refining the edges, and I set out the mug to slowly dry, repairing any cracks that may show up along the way. At last, when it’s bone dry, the mug is ready to go into the kiln for the first of two firings.
Where can people follow you and/or order their very own mug?!
Keep making things, and may the world provide you with endless inspiration.
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