To me, sgafitto is a way for the enamelist to put his/her mark on a piece. It is an Italian word for “scratched” and is used as a term for the techniques through which the top surface is scratched to see the surface below. This technique provides a great way to create patterns and unique effects on an enameled surface. It comes to us from the painting and pottery world. Here is a brief history taken from Wikipedia, for a fuller history reference their web site
Sgraffito on walls has been used in Europe since classical times, it was popularized in Italy in the 15th and 16th centuries and can be found in African art. In combination with ornamental decoration these techniques formed an alternative to the prevailing painting of walls. Of late there has been an unmistakable growing interest in this old technique. The technical procedure is relatively simple, and the procedures are similar to the painting of frescoes.
In class on Friday, we will explore this technique using dry enamels in a couple of ways. We will start with either a fused based coat or bare copper. Each produces a different effect. Once they learn the techniques, I encourage my students to experiment and keep records of what they do. I think part of the fun of enameling is experimenting.