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Slip Trailing

A technique used by potters to decorate ware. Neutral and colored slips, clay in thick paste form, are trailed onto the ware (in raised lines and strokes) to create tactile designs.

Details

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.

Related Information

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)

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

Bowls decorated with slip trailing

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

Links

Properties Glaze Surface Texture
Glossary Ceramic Slip
The term Slip can have various meanings in traditional ceramics.
Glossary Engobe
Engobes are high-clay slurries that are applied to leather hard or dry ceramics and fire opaque. They are used for functional or decorative purposes.
Glossary Incised decoration
A type of decoration done on pottery. Designs are carved into the surface of the leather hard ware and often covered by a thickness sensitive glaze.

By Tony Hansen


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