Saturday, November 5, 2011

chop or signature?

a woman came in to the gallery today and picked out one of my salt glazed bowls and asked about the signature underneath. i told her that i was michèle and that was my signature. she then asked if i had actually signed it or was it a stamp... i told her that no, it wasn't a stamp, that i had signed the bowl. she thought the handwriting was too perfect for a signature and she only wanted to purchase "signed" pieces... i showed her other pots that just had my "M" chop on them (which is a handmade stamp)... and i proceeded to tell her that on many of my pots i prefer the stamped "M" because it becomes part of the design, but large platters & bowls get the signature (or if i forget to stamp it, it is easier to wet an area and do the signature!).
after she left i thought that i should have told her that my signature was done with my magic pencil that always writes my name perfectly...

i have a whole box of these "magic" pencils and they should last at least another 10 years. i still prefer my simple "M" chop...

one of the things that i don't do is put a date on the pottery i make... if it hangs around too long and people see that it is dated 2009... they wonder what is wrong with it and why haven't you been able to sell it yet? best to forego the whole date thing.

here is the chop that John used on his pots...

a few months after he died i thought i had lost it... i had the container that he kept it in, along with a shell he used to mark pots made with white stoneware, but his chop was gone. i was very distraught (and mad at myself) at the thought of losing it... the floor of the studio we shared in NH was stone and one day i looked down and there it was! i cried tears of joy upon finding it!!!!
i now keep both of our chops in the same container. i like knowing it is there... i think it means  more to me than many of the pots i have that he made.

how do you sign your pots and why? i am curious to know.

... and yes, the woman did buy the salt glazed bowl :-)


  1. I've used just a chop for years, but just recently started signing some of my pots under the chop.
    What an odd complaint, that your signature was too neat.

  2. I made a barn today and used words from a song my daughter wrote on it. I signed the bottom with my name and then signed her name as the song writer. I do date my barns, but learned my lesson on Christmas ornaments. I just sold some for $1 that were dated 2010. On my smaller barns I initial TB, on the larger ones I write my name and on really small stuff I use a T chop. I'm all over the place with it!

  3. I've never heard it called a chop.
    I've always used a stamp, "gz", only hand marking or painting with oxide when it got forgotten at the right time.
    I wonder what she'd say about those who put no mark on their work? Like Shoji Hamada...

  4. I try to remembe to sign everything with my name if I forget I use an iron pencil and then if I forget on bisque I use a permanent marker, like on the back of my new wall plaques, but on really small items that won't fit my signature I use a chop I had made that has an L with a actual star cradled in the L. I only dated my wall plaques and a few other pieces, the rest I don't date. I know some potters also put the State or town they live in on the back of their pots.

  5. Hey Linda - Jeff used to stamp a lot of his work with "Northwood NH"... of course we brought a lot of those pots with us to Seagrove. We have to explain to people that it says Northwood because we recently moved from there. Some people put those pots back and pick something else out... if they are in Seagrove they want pots made here.
    luckily the "Northwood" pots are almost gone!

  6. I use a chop most of the time and from time to time I will make a new chop that is just a little different. I like to collect other potters works and the chop is important to me.

  7. I sign my work 'suzi'. The style is from my label waaaay back when I designing clothes. I put an upside down '!' before my signature when I am working in porcelain. I've never used a chop. I date a prototype when I'm trying out a new form, other than that, no dates.

    The idea of a signature is too neat is, to put it mildly, strange.

  8. I have used a stamp like the JZ with GR for years but recently started using underglaze down there with my last name---it occurs to me that I was a very messy GR stamper (I am messy about most of life) but really, hereis my secret---people can read RITH on the bottom and google RITH pottery, and well, be led straight to me :)

  9. Gary, you bring up a very good point. There is a potter in NH that had a stamp made with her web address, I thought that was a neat idea.

  10. I alternate between a stamp of my initials, "md" or hand written initials, which is usually larger and has more of a flourish. It really depends on the foot of the piece and how much room I have to work with.


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