Making your clay slip is a great way to save money and control the ingredients that go into it. You can make it as thin or thick as you like and add any color or other additives.
Our article will look in more detail at how to make clay slip. As well, we will explore some techniques that are popular for decorating with clay slips.
What is Clay Slip?
Clay slip is a mixture of clay and water, about the same consistency as heavy cream. It can be used in different ways to decorate ceramic pieces, such as tiles and pots.
Generally speaking, you can use it like other kinds of paint for artwork on pottery or ceramics. But because casting slips are made using clay, you can also use them to create designs that imitate the look of glazed pottery or other bead and slip decorating techniques.
Step by Step Instructions on How to Make Clay Slip?
Making clay slip is not too difficult, but it does require some steps and patience to get good results. Read on for a step-by-step guide to making your slip.
Prepare Your Clay
You can use almost any kind of clay you have on hand, from the cheapest school mold clay to higher-quality regular clay sold for pottery work. But it is a good idea to sift out any sticks or stones in the clay before mixing it with water.
Prepare Your Water or Slip Base
There are many different recipes for slip bases, some of which are made with glue, aloe Vera gel, glycerin, or other ingredients. You can experiment with your recipe for a slip base or try one of the pre-made solutions on the market.
Combine The Two and Mix Thoroughly
Generally speaking, it is best to let your clay and slip base sit overnight to ensure that the two are thoroughly combined. The more you mix, the finer the consistency of your slip will be.
Add Color if You Wish
If you would like to add color to your slip, you can do so before or after it is mixed together. Keep in mind that different colors may have other effects on the slip, depending on what base ingredients are used to make them.
The Icing Test for Clay Slips
One easy way to check if your clay slip is ready for use is with what is called the “icing test.” Take a small portion of the slip and place it on a piece of paper towel.
Allow it to dry overnight, and then check if there is any residue on the paper when you come back to it. If your slip contains sugar, there should be some residue from the sugar.
Other Additives for Clay Slips
It is possible to add different ingredients to your slip to make it behave differently, such as bubbles, which will make it lighter, easier to work with on pottery, and easier to decorate with. You can also add powders like cornstarch or kaolin clay, which will help the slip dry with a smoother finish.
Now you know the basics of making and using clay slips. Try experimenting with different clays and slip bases to see what works best for you and your pottery or ceramic work.
How to Add Color to Your Slip?
You can use many different techniques to add color to your slip, but here we will focus on just a few of the easiest ones:
Pouring is easy and can create pretty results for making slips. Just mix up the vinegar with your dry clay slip as you would normally do, and then carefully pour it into another container so it can be ready for use elsewhere.
You can spray your slip onto wet or dry pottery to apply the color. This technique is pretty easy because it only requires a spray bottle, which you probably use clay slips.
This method for adding color to slips is almost like what you would see in glaze pottery, where the color is applied to wet pottery. To do this, you dip your decorated piece of pottery in the slip you are using.
These are just some different ways to add color and other ingredients to your clay slips. You can use them to create interesting effects on your pottery or ceramic work.
Tips for Using a Clay Slip Successfully
You can use clay slips successfully by following these tips:
Use A Good Recipe
If your recipe is terrible, your slip may not turn out as you want it to. If you use the wrong types of clays and additives, then your slip could crack or behave incorrectly during firing. For example, don’t use kaolin clay in place of ball clay to create a good storage slip with high shrinkage.
Add Enough Water Initially
A common slip-making mistake that new potters make is not adding little water to the slip before firing it. The more water you add during your testing process, the less water you will have to add after your slip has been fired.
Test Your Recipe Before Applying It
If you are working with a new slip recipe, test a small amount of clay and dry the pieces. This way, if you make a mistake while using a new recipe, you’re not wasting all the materials in a larger batch of pieces.
Store Your Clay Slip in an Airtight Container
It would help if you always stored your clay slips in airtight containers or jars free of cracks, chips, or abrasions. This is because any dust particles that may get into your jar with the slip can settle onto the surface and dry out your slip when left exposed.
Avoid Using Too Much of Your Slip
You don’t want to use too much of your slip because it could cause problems with adhesion. If you are having trouble removing pieces after they’ve been fired, this is usually an indication that either there isn’t enough or too much slip on the surface. If this happens, then just scrape off any excess slip or wash the pieces under running water.
Store Your Slips in A Cool Place
Storing your clay slips in a cool place is always best to preserve their quality and prevent them from drying out while you work on other projects. Some potters even like to store their clay slips in the refrigerator to extend their shelf life.
Use Your Slip in A Well-Ventilated Area
Mixing clay slips can release harmful fumes, so working in a well-ventilated area is always best. If you don’t have access to one, then wear a respirator to protect yourself from breathing in any of the particles that may be floating in the air.
Improve Airflow in Enclosed Areas
To improve airflow, open any windows before you start mixing your slips and remove any obstructions from the room. If you need to work in a smaller area, try plugging in a space heater to keep the air circulating throughout the workspace.
Using these tips can help you create a better slip for your pottery and other projects, so try applying a few of them to see which work best for your needs.
Popular Techniques for Decorating with Slips
Using various techniques to decorate pottery and ceramics with clay slips is possible.
Decorating with Thicker Slips
One effortless way of adding color and texture to your slip-decorated pottery is by applying a thick slip-on layer on one side and then simply wiping it off. You can create exciting designs by using a thicker layer of slip on the top and then wiping it off to create a design on the side.
This technique creates a water-like effect that can be used in many ways. There are several ways to do this project, but they all involve using clear slips and dipping your pottery into the slip until you get the desired design.
Freezing and Thawing
You can freeze your slip to create a unique effect on your pottery. This technique creates a marbled or swirled look that is interesting and good for adding an artistic touch to clay work. Freezing your slip-decorated pottery before firing it will create this beautiful and interesting effect.
Embossing and Stamping Slip Designs
You can also create unique and pretty designs on your pottery by decorating it with clay slips that have been embossed or stamped onto the surface with another material. These materials could be leaves, paper, flowers, or any other object you may want to apply as a design.
Now you know the basics of how to make clay slips. Have fun trying out these techniques and many more when you do your next pottery or ceramic project.
Making a good clay slip can be challenging, but by using these tips, you should be able to create one that’s just right for you. From avoiding too much water or not enough water during the process to ensuring airflow is ample wherever you’re working, there are plenty of ways you can ensure your slips turn out well. Just keep in mind that every recipe will need some tweaking until it works just right for your project and environment.