Week 3 Slip ‘n’ Surfaces

What we did this week:

Inlaid Slip

slip trailing (unsuccessful)

foot-of-the-week: over a rolling pin

lip-of-the-week: stamped  or paddled

glaze-of-the-week: josh green


We had a really good time inlaying slip and everything else was a bit of a wash.

What you need for inlaying slip is either a drawing stylus of some sort- the wooden sticks I like so much, for example. Or a shape or texture to press in. This can be anything from lace, to a cookie cutter to a wheely tool you find at the junk store (thank you so much Nina!!) The latter was SUPER fun to play with and ideal for inlaying slip.


You also need a fairly even surface (no throwing rings for example) on a leather hard pot.

Carve in or press in your design and then  paint slip into the lines in  whatever color you desire. I have already written about this in another blog entry.


Then, and this is key!!, Let your piece get almost bone dry. It can get all the way bone dry but it is very brittle then. I think if you have just a hint of moisture left in the pot, it is a little more resilient and holds up better to the scraping you will be doing.testing-the-slips-dryness

Once the surface is chalky dry you  take a metal rib and scrape off the excess slip in long even strokes. scraping-off-the-excess-slip

IF the surface is too wet, the clay will just close over your lines and your inlaid slip won’t show. It will look “blurry”.

Here is a piece Nina and I did together with that tool.finished-inlay-pattern-from-ninas-cool-tool


I then tried to do slip trailing with what I thought was pretty thick slip but it still ran way too much.  Then I tried to blot it with a newspaper and reapply the excess as a transfer. What followed was a very amusing discussion of rorschark prints. This was one of those cases where you have to learn from the teacher’s mistakes and get the principle of the thing as there is no success from which to take example.



lip-of-the-week: stamped  or paddled

If your lip is sufficiently thick, you can take a stamp or some sort of texture and go around the lip pressing into it.  It gives the lip a texture and compresses it and also, in that it has its own character, it gives it some presence which is sufficient to give a starting and ending to the vessel.



foot-of-the-week: over a rolling pin

This too was an unsuccessful demo- as much due to the shortness of the clay (poor batch of reclaim) as my ineptitude. Once you have the base of the pot established, you tap it down over a dowel or rolling pin. then turn it 90 degrees and do that again-the result being kind of an inset cross and 4 “pods” or legs. I realized after doing it on a bowl that it is so much better on a closed form as it deforms the inside bottom. It worked wonderfully on my little “cow” pitcher. tapping-on-a-braced-dowel


glaze-of-the-week: Josh Green

Although I failed to talk about this wonderful glaze, I had brought an example and certainly I can make up for that lack in my blog.

Josh Green is in some ways a super fussy glaze in that any little drip or overlap will show- it is exactly opposite of Shaner clear in that way but  it also has a great breaking quality and shows off Red Iron (in oxide or slip form) very nicely as you can see in the lid of this inlaid box. inlaid-slip-fish-box

Here I put it over iron oxide which was wiped into the “cracks” in my giant urn. photo before, tall-ewer-with-red-iron-oxide-painted-and-wiped-into-seams

after the-big-urn-glazedbig-urn-detail


What’s wonderful about Josh is that it so often looks like the patina of an old bronze for example and is really my fall back choice  for stoneware when I want to show off a texture or desire  a more matte glaze than Celadon. It is somewhat unpredictable but I find it consistently falls within a range of results, all of which are acceptable outcomes for my pots.

*Josh Blue is less transparent and just not as interesting to me as the green.


Birch work  -Slip resist with sgraffito’d details..

Because porcelain tends to slump when it is so horizontal, I use stoneware in a slump mold. (I’ve found various delightful molds at the junk store.)painted-stoneware-in-slump-molds

As soon as I put the slab in the mold, I cover the surface with white slip.


Because I am working with two different clays- stoneware in the mold and porcelain slip- there is a slightly different shrinkage and I want the two clays to bond as much as possible when they are the wettest.


After the piece gets near leather hard, I tear up a bunch of newspaper strips and wet them and the surface of the tray. Wetting them helps them to stick down to the piece. The “frondy” edges of the torn paper also tend to stick more than a cut edge.

After they are down I apply a contrasting slip- in this case blue-


and after letting it set up until it is no longer shiny but long before it dries, I pull up the strips.


Here it is with all the strips pulled up. 


you can see places where the blue slip “snuck” under the paper- I will either draw over it or carefully scrape it off the white.

After that, I go back in with a drawing stick and define at least one edge of the tree  (thanks to Stephanie M. for that suggestion)and make all those little marks that are so distinctive to birches.


This one (above)  is not even dry-certainly not fired or glazed. 

Glazing- I thought I would try a clear glaze on one

(here it is- some small  piece of the kiln stuck to it)

small-birch-tray-clear-glazeand on another, some soda ash water for a matte finish with possible orange flashing. 

long-birch-tray-shino-waterI have tried quite a few finishes on these trays. 

I’m trying to find something that enhances it by turning the carved lines brown (as opposed to the gray of the clear glaze above) but without changing the white of the birches. I’ve not been completely successful.

Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Under Celadon- glossy finish…y’know, I think I painted red iron oxide into the lines on this one and wiped it off.

birch-under-celadonUnder shino and wiped off lightly- matte finishbirch-under-shino-wiped-offunder Rutile Blue and (badly?) wiped off- matte finishbirch-under-rutile-blue-wiped-off


This next one below, took too long and I worried too much. This is shino wiped off and then clear painted on. If those two meet, they look awful together, bubbling, etc. NOTE* upper left corner, you can see where the slip did not bond to the stoneware- it can be a problem- and flaked off. Darn!

birch-shino-wiped-off-and-clear-painted-onbut of all the finishes (and this is just a little too matte) this is probably what I was shooting for.