Slip and Colour Weekend Workshop!

Hello my lovelies!

So we are heading into the last week of the term…what a great start to the year!

Lots, and lots, and lots of pots have been made and we have had two weekend workshops as well.

As promised I am going to tell you what we got up to in the Slip and Colour inclusion Work Shop now.

This was exploring colour in slip and inclusions of minerals into the cay.

It was a full on weekend with the first day getting the cay sorted out to work ready for the next day.

Every one who came had previously taken home a bucket of dry white clay. Their instructions at home was to make sure that the clay was bone dry, broken into smallish pieces and then water added to the bucket until the clay was covered.  Then to leave it alone and bring it along to the Saturday work day.  This is the best way to make sure that your clay dissolves into a consistent mass ready for recycling.

Each participant had pre-ordered a bag of coloured stain.  A coloured stain is a formula of oxides that are pre-mixed and pre-fired to give an indication of the colour that they will make. They are very stable so you can use them to colour slip, clay or glaze with predicable results.

We divided the clay into 3 lots.  Put the stain into 1 lot, some different collected sands and minerals into another lot and left the last lot plain.  The stained clay was then further divided into 3 with one lot dried out into a coloured body clay, 1 lot had a cap full of jays fluid to defloculate it for printing, and the last lot had dispex in it to make it really loose and runny so that it could be painted onto a surface of a pot but not make the pot too wet.  This is called defloculating where you add an alkaline fluid which makes the clay particles repeal each other so that they whole mass becomes liquid and runny.  This way you don’t have to use lots of water to make the slip flow.

We dried out the ‘sandy’ clay, the plain clay and the coloured clay on newspaper outside in the sun until it was ready to wedge up and knead into a workable clay body.  After this there were some very tired arms!

By stacking and layering up the plain and sandy clay we created a marbled piece each for throwing and hand-building ready for the next day.  The coloured clay body was put together in layers and twists to make a coloured log of clay and then the slips were sieved and put into jars.    Everything was wrapped and stored ready for the next day.

Phew…that’s enough for the first day!

On the Sunday we set up work stations for the following exercises to try out making coloured clay objects

  • Feathering – Roll out a circle of clay, place onto a batt and cover with a very wet and runny layer of your dispex slip.  Add drops or lines of other coloured slip in patterns onto the wet layer of slip and use a needle too to draw through the drops to ‘feather’ the pattern,  Leave until all the slip sets up firm enough to place the circle into/onto a mold.
  • Marbling Hand building – carefully cut your sand marbled clay into pieces about 350gms use a cylinder to make a pattern from and roll your clay out gently to fit the pattern.  Make cylinder vessel as usual and leave to dry. Make sure you finish the edges off nicely by pressing with a piece of paper because if you sponge them later you will muddy the design up.  It won’t look like much is happening but when it comes out of the glaze kiln you will be amazed!
  • Marbling Throwing – cut your sand marbled cay into pieces about 500gms.  Throw into a simple bowl with as little moves as possible.  Use a hard edged rib tool to clean up pot to reveal design.  Leave to leather off and turn.  Try not to sponge so that you don’t muddy the pattern.  Again you won’t notice much until the pot is glazed.
  • Printing – cut a simple stencil from paper.  Use a screen, a roller or a sponge to apply the thicker coloured slip solutions.  The paper stencil will resist the colour.  Blot the clay and then peel back the paper to reveal the design.  Hand build with the printed clay as usual.
  • Nerikomi – cut your coloured log of clay into thin slices.  Carefully press the pieces into a mold,over lapping slightly, to create a patch work design.  You can also roll out a thin layer of clay, damp it down and then place your slices on top.  Carefully roll them together to create a patch work piece of clay that you can hand build from.
  • Sgraffitto – coat your pot in the dispex coloured slip.  Apply a couple of coats and leave to harden off.  Use a tool that can cut fine lines into the pot and ‘draw’ though the layers to reveal the pot beneath.  This is beast done when the pot is past hard leather hard and becoming dry.  I use a sharp end of a hole tool that removes the material as I scratch though the layer.


When we finished all the different ways of working with the slip we all crawled home exhausted for a well deserved cup of tea!

If you would like to have a go at any of these techniques please remember that all stains and oxides are poisonous and should be handles with care.  Keep all your work surfaces clean and keep your scraps shut away.  Use gloves and a mask when mixing from a dry powder in a well ventilated space.

Here are some examples of the work shop below.



Next week is our last week so I will post the pictures of all your beautiful pots flowing form the kilns and also a run down of this weekends throwing work shop…which was amazing…really it was!

See you next week.

Tatyanna a.k.a The Busy Finch 🙂

2 Replies to “Slip and Colour Weekend Workshop!”

  1. This was a great workshop. It was exciting to try out so many different techniques. With all the stirring, kneading, cutting and racing from station to station (to get as many things done as we could in the time available) it felt like the “Master Chef” kitchen! The time flew by and the results were very satisfying. Thank you Tatyanna!

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