Kaz (kazaera) wrote in little_details,

Amateur pottery decorating

Setting: Fantasy world with pseudo-medieval technology (in particular, Tamriel from the Elder Scrolls series of video games)

Question: I have a group of people who, on a rainy day, decide to decorate their supply of plain pottery mugs with various... inscriptions. They may have been drunk at the time. My questions are:

- How can they do this? Keeping in mind they're all total amateurs, it can't be a process that requires too long because they're just doing it out of boredom, they're doing it to already finished mugs that were not made with this in mind, and this is pseudo-medieval land. They also have no specialised supplies, but they are mages.

- On which note: is it possible to decorate any kind of finished pottery using localised heat (a la pokerwork?) I thought it would be a cool application for a fire spell, but Google isn't turning up anything and thinking about it it doesn't seem quite logical. Maybe if the glaze was faulty? Or maybe they could use certain kinds of acids (they have a dedicated alchemist, so I could say they had some lying around)?

What sort of clay the mugs are from and how they were created is relatively flexible - I was originally thinking of ash glazes, then unglazed or only glazed on the inner part terracotta. They should be cheap enough in pseudo-medieval fantasy-land that the mages in question feel free to play around with them, but if necessary I can handwave an explanation.

Already looked: Checked the "decorating and glazing" section of the "Pottery" page on Wikipedia and clicked through to get more detail on the techniques, none of which seemed right. Tried various Google searches using keywords like "(finished) pottery decoration", "terracotta decoration", "pottery pokerwork", "decorating ceramic using acids". The closest I got was various articles about how to decorate ceramics as a hobby, but those use modern materials where I'm not sure my mages could approximate them (at least not without a lot of effort). The pokerwork search turned up nothing relevant, making me suspect it's impossible but I'd like that confirmed, and a lot of the more general ones are about the person creating the pottery decorating.

ETA: Thanks, I think I have enough ideas to work with - fire spells to do pokerwork on leather tankards and paints of some sort on unglazed or only glazed on the inside pottery. However, if anyone has more suggestions I'm definitely open to them!
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