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In Italian, “sgraffito” translates as “to scratch.” Ceramicists and sculptors use sgraffito tools to create intriguing effects by scratching through different colorful layers of material, such as clays, slips, glazes, and plaster, to reveal a lower layer. The contrast within the layers is striking. Ceramicists scratch through slips and glazes on leather-hard clay. Sgraffito tools are also used to incise layers of plaster for decorative stucco walls and fresco paintings. Ribbon-loop tools incise through the layers using wire loops; styluses have thin wire loops that cut more precisely than ribbon loops; others are needles that scratch precise lines. Spatulas and scoopers create nuanced marks and help shape wet forms. Paint brushes and rubber shapers are used to remove unwanted material.
1. Kemper Tools WLS Double Ended Wire Loop Sgraffito
Incise smooth lines with intricate variations using Kemper’s wire-loop sgraffito tool. Well designed, this sturdy tool features sharp high-strength steel wire loops at each end of a beautiful hardwood handle. The loops carve delicate lines in polymer clays and leather-hard clay without debris or burrs. Vary the pressure on the tool to vary line width and depth. This tool is an excellent option for carving delicate lines and forms in wet clay and wax. Cleanup is a breeze.
2. Jack Richeson Wire Loop Sgraffito
Precise lines—and lines with smooth variations—are easy to create in a single stroke with Jack Richeson’s sgraffito wire loop. This tool features small stainless-steel wire loops at each end of a premium wooden handle, designed for hours of incising lines in ceramic vessels and plaster walls. This tool may also be used for carving, cutting, and adding details into wet clay. The lines created with the wire loop sgraffito are smooth; these lines don’t have the rough or flaky edges created by styluses and needles.
3. SE 12-Piece Stainless Steel Wax Carvers Set
Variety is the spice of life! Artists and students need a wide variety of art tools as they experiment with different sculptural media. Featuring 12 double-ended tools that, in total, provide 24 different carving options, this premium, stainless steel wax carving set is great for busy classrooms and studios. The tools are approximately six inches long, and the handles include grips for securely holding while making detailed marks. The tips vary and include thin, needlelike hooks, needles, scoops, and spatulas. The tools are versatile and excellent for use with sgraffito techniques, carving, and modeling. Some of the tools are too sharp for young children; educators should supervise beginners.
4. HTS Stainless Steel Hollow Tip Carver Wax & Clay Sculpting Tool Set
If you love loop sgraffito tools and want a full range of loop shapes, this set is the one for you. Featuring four double-ended tools, the tips have eight open shapes, including loops, triangles, rectangles, and teardrops. The variety allows artists to make a full range of sgraffito and carving lines smoothly and cleanly, including thick lines and shapes. Made from 100% stainless steel, the durable tools clean up easily and may be heated for additional sculptural techniques for wax. The knurled handles are easy to grip, even with wet hands.
5. Xiem Studio Tools Ultimate Tools for Clay Artists
Ceramic artists need a full range of sgraffito tools, and Xiem’s set is an excellent, versatile set. It includes seven double-ended tools, totaling 14 of the most precise and useful options. The handcrafted tools are made from premium stainless steel and feature rubber handles for a secure grip. The tools offer a wide range of tips, including needles, spatulas, and scoops, for a variety of intricate sgraffito marks within clay and plaster. They are also exceptional at carving, modeling, and cutting fine details in wet clay, polymer clays, wax, and soft, sculptural materials. They are precise, creating remarkable refined, small details.