Mixing color into clay is considered to be a relatively recent innovation, so decorating ancient pieces was often done by pressing objects into the wet surface to create a pattern. While using different colors and glazes has now been done for a few centuries, the ancient method of design impressions is still a popular way for artists to use texture instead of color to make a piece pleasing to the eye. Some artists have always used this method for making their work stand out, but others have rediscovered it recently.
The natural world often provided the best materials for ancient artists, so using leaves or sticks to make their impressions was a standard way to create beauty on many different levels. As raw materials were used to craft artifacts, some of them were pressed into service by artists looking for new ways to decorate their pieces. Rope is a good example of this idea, and it was one of the more popular ways of adding a textured design that would repeat over the surface of the piece.
Tools have often been used to create designs in many different materials, and clay is just one of the places where artists have successfully used them to make patterns. Small tools with different ends can be used to create lines or patterned impressions that will be put together to create flowers, or even entire scenes by experienced artists. While some might enhance them with colored glazes, many artists who use texture prefer to leave their works all one color.
Seeking out patterns is part of how artists connect with the natural world, and many newer ones have found it is a pleasant way to decorate their clay items. They have found that using natural materials will inspire them to create their own patterns, and the texture of their work shines out once the piece has been fired.