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What is a slip?

Updated: Jan 25

A slip is a liquid or semi-liquid mixture of clay suspended in water.


Types of slip?


  • Decorative slip

  • Pouring or Casting slip (slip cast ceramics - manufacturing technology)

  • Engobe or Reactive Slip (a slip which has various additions such as frits and colourants that interact with the glaze layer on top)

  • Vitreous slip: a naturally occurring or man-made slip that melts into a glaze-like surface at high temperature

  • Terra Sigillata (fine particle slip which is often applied before alternative firing methodologies such as Raku, Smoke, Pit or Sagar Firing)


When do you apply a slip?


Most makers apply slip when their work is leather hard or softer but slip can be applied at any stage, even during throwing or after bisque firing.


How can a slip be applied?


A slip decorated pot may or may not be glazed depending on personal preference and intention.

You can pour, dip, brush, spray, splash, or sponge on a slip. You can also work back into a slip decorated surface to create line work, lettering, illustrative designs and distressed effects.


Teqniques to explore:


  • Sgraffito (wear dust mask)

  • Etching (wear dust mask)

  • Hakeme

  • Spray

  • Inlay

  • Slip Trailing

  • Feathering

  • Swirling

  • Combing

  • Finger-wiping

  • Stencilling

  • Stippling


A few historical and contemporary approaches/practitioners to consider:


Korean Buncheong ware

Persian slipware

Greek black- and red-figure pottery

Native American slip decorated pottery

English slipware


Julia Carter Preston - Liverpool, UK

Clive Bowen - Devon, UK

Doug Fitch and Hannah McAndrew - Dumfries, UK

Jean-Nicolas Gerard - France

Vicky Shaw - Scotland




John Mathieson - Techniques using slip

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