Although clay slip can be applied by using all of the same techniques as a glaze, the slip trailer and commercial applicators offer a lot of great opportunities. Slip trailing is the application to a clay surface of lines of slip using a fine-pointed dispenser.
It differs from glaze trailing in several ways:. What you see is what you get. These characteristics create a decorating technique ideal for designs requiring precision, such as commemorative plates. Planning ahead lets you put slip to work for you and make the most of its qualities. Here are five simple steps that will help you get started:. The tools and materials needed for slip trailing are simple and can be purchased or even fabricated in the studio.
You can make an inexpensive slip by soaking dried scraps of your clay body in water. Screen it to remove all the lumps and grog and store it in an airtight container. For a simple trailer use a condiment dispenser available in most large kitchen departments. If your trailer is not filled, remove the tip, squeeze the bottle and insert the top of the trailer in the slip container.
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Ease off the pressure and allow the trailer to draw in the slip then replace the tip. To use the trailer, grasp the bulb or sides of the bottle, shake the slip down toward the tip, tilt the trailer to one side and gently squeeze. You can drag the tip on the clay as long as you are moving it away from the open end, so the slip is trailing out behind the applicator as you create a line.
Slip Trailing for Beginners: A Primer on a Great Ceramics Decorating Technique
If you move it the other way, the tip will dig into the clay and get clogged. Before creating a design, practice using the trailer on a slab of leather-hard clay. Get a feel for how the slip comes out and what kinds of lines you can make with it. Spend time playing with different hand motions. It takes practice to squeeze with the right pressure and move your hand at a steady pace to get a smooth line. After a number of tries, you may decide that the applicator is too big or too small for your hand.
Make one tile for each glaze you want to try, plus an unglazed tile. If you have any pinks, lavenders or purples, make sure that the glaze is zinc-free or the color will shift.
Techniques Using Slips : John Mathieson :
I test all slips on wet, leather-hard and dry clay to give me an idea of the moisture range they can tolerate, and a soft leather-hard clay worked for all the materials tested here. You need to experiment to see how your slip works with your clay. Check out this archive article for a great pottery decorating technique using stiffer slip. If I want to make larger amounts should I use something to keep the slip is suspension, or will just liquid clay do?? Just read all these comments. Wish I could see the answers to many of the questions.
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Is there a pottery forum of some sort? Questions and answers? I have used slips for decades and here are a few tips. Small amounts of vinegar will thicken the slip, stir rapidly as you add it. Chemistry pipettes make great detail slip trailers. Try not to chip the ends. John Pollox in England has a great book on slip trailing. Commercially available casting slips can be made into trailing slip by adding small amounts of epsom salts solution.
This will thicken the slip by refloculation. This thicker slip will trail nicely and retain the raised texture. Predissolve epsom salts in water and add by the drop.
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Commercial casting slips are defloculated and have less water in them than undefloculated slip. The defloculated slip will shrink less, leading to better adhesion. Commercial underglazes can be used to used to color your slip, though the cost will be higher than with stains or raw materials. We still have all plus Mason stain colors in stock if anyone needs them.
I recently saw another book called Techniques Using Slips by John Mathieson which looks very good as well. I believe it can be found on Amazon.
Design Technique Using Amaco Velvets with Slip and Slabs
For a more interesting decorative effect try adding crushed glass to the slip — when fired to glost temperatures the fine powdered glass will fuse and produce a glaze like finish. What could be a better slip than slip made from the clay body? I also use this slip for throwing pots instead of water. I believe it weakens the clay less than water. I have made my own slip by using clay trimmings.
The recurring problem I have is getting the slip at the right consistency, ie not too wet, or not wet enough. This is an excerpt of an article that was published several years ago. Once the slips are dry, cover the entire pot with wax resist and allow it to sit overnight so the wax hardens figure 1. The longer you let the wax dry, the easier it will be to draw clean lines. Use a tool with a point that gives the line quality you desire—anything from a ballpoint pen to a needle tool will work.
Another contributing factor to line quality is the moisture content of the clay. The drier the pot, the sharper the line figure 2. Be patient and wait as long as it takes for the burrs to dry. The drier the burrs are when you brush them away, the cleaner the line will be figure 3. Once the drawing is complete, use colored slips to fill in the lines figure 4. The overlying color should wipe away easily due to the layer of protective wax resist still on the pot.
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Figure 5. After bisquing the pot, use a damp sponge to clean the surface before applying glaze. This removes any dust that developed from the wax burning off in the kiln and allows for a consistent and clean coat of glaze. Apply areas of colored glaze figure 6 , allow them to dry, then apply a thin layer of clear glaze on top of the entire pot figure 7. Wipe the bottom clean, allow the glaze to dry, then fire it to temperature. Figure 6 and 7. Ben Krupka is a functional and sculptural ceramic artist and educator living and working in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. To see more of his work, visit www.
Nice piece by the way. Been wondering how to take the decoration to the next level!