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Slip Trailing

A technique of adding a relief pattern to a clay surface by trailing lines of slip (clay in thick paste form) using a tube or nozzle (like cake decorating). The raised lines and strokes are often colored and create a surface that is both visually appealing and tactile. Slip trailed lines are often applied to define areas of color and contours on pieces, or to highlight a painted design.

Slips are applied at the leather hard stage (where the ware is stiff enough to be handled but soft enough to bond with the slip). It is normally easiest if the slip is the same clay as the body of the piece, then they will have the same drying and firing shrinkages. If not care must be taken to choose or formulate a slip that is drying, firing and thermal expansion compatible with the body.

Online ceramic supply retailers offer a variety of tools and materials for this process. Many videos about slip trailing can be found on youtube. In fact, there are endless help pages all over the internet about this technique.

Cone 6 porcelain decorated via slip trailing

Cone 6 porcelain decorated via slip trailing

A transparent glaze appears to have been colored using green, blue and red stains. The slip is the porcelain itself. Made by Laura Vanderlinde.

Incised decoration (left) vs. slip trailed decoration (right)

Incised decoration (left) vs. slip trailed decoration (right)

Both are highlighted by Alberta Slip GA6-A glaze on these cone 6 oxidation fired mugs.

Bowls decorated with slip trailing

Bowls decorated with slip trailing

Made by Dawn Candy. Clay is Plainsman M370. Fired at cone 6.

Out Bound Links

  • (Properties) Glaze Surface Texture
  • (Glossary) Engobe

    A white or colored slip applied to clay as a coating. The term "slip" is often used interchangeably with this, but we think of slip more as a decorative, paint-on material/process. The tile industry uses the largest volumes of engobe by far, these are employed as opaque barriers between less-than-wh...

  • (Glossary) Incised decoration

    Incised decoration is carved into leather hard ware. It is often highlighted by cutting through a slip of contrasting color to the body or by glazing the ware using a glaze that changes color or crystallizes on edges of contours (where the glaze layer is thinner). Many tools are available for this.

In Bound Links

  • (Glossary) Slip

    In ceramics, this term can refer to a number of things: -A clay slurry poured into molds to be cast into shapes. The slip is deflocculated to minimize water content and fine tune viscosity. The deflocculation process involves using special chemicals that enable you to create a fluid clay-water slur...

By Tony Hansen

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