Thursday, March 12, 2009

Low Fire Clay Slip - Recipe and Technique

A few years ago I started incorporating clay slip trailing into my work and have been having lots of fun with it. Here's the recipe for you to try.

Pete Pinell's White Slip
40 OM4
40 Talc
10 Silica
10 Nepheline Syenite

+10 Frit 3124
+7 Zircopax

(You can also add a few drops of sodium silicate - a deflocculant that helps reduce viscosity and makes the slip easier to apply with a slip bottle.)

There are a variety of slip trailing bottles out there in many shapes and sizes. You'll want to experiment with a few until you find the style that you enjoy most. Some things to think about 1) the size of the tip opening can have an effect on line thickness it creates 2) how hard is the plastic? You're could be squeezing for awhile, so you want a bottle that's softer and easier to work with. 3) how much slip do you want it to hold?

Ron has a great post here on how to construct your very own slip trailer.Try drawing a practice line first to check thickness and to make sure the bottle isn't clogged. A sewing needle can be used to unclog the tip if needed.
Squeeze and draw away! It's a lot like decorating a cake. I like to wait until the clay is leather hard because the clay forms are easier to hold and work with at this stage.
A sample of slip stippling.
A group of unfired, slip decorated Minis.
A few glaze fired sample of how glazes will "break" and pool over the slip giving the surface added depth and dimension.
More glaze fired samples.
If anyone's interested, I'd be happy to share the above 2 recipes. Just let me know. Hope you're able to do something creative today!

Enjoy! I'm off to the studio!

PS - More on the materials and process I use can be found here.


Anonymous said...

What's OM4?

Pete Pinnell was one of my profs, took a couple classes with him, most notably technical ceramics (which was mostly glaze making). He's part of a very strong ceramics department at the University of Nebraska. I'd recommend it to anyone.

Judy Shreve said...

Hey Meagan - Do you only use this slip to trail? Have you ever used it - thinner as an application to the entire piece?

Meagan Chaney said...

Hi Paul - OM4 is a type of ball clay. I believe its named after where its mined'Old Mine #4'.Another ball clay could probably work as a sub in this glaze.

Judy - I have done some pieces where I brushed this slip over the entire surface. Technically it worked great, but the look wasn't what I was going for. I've been experimenting with terra sigillata more for covering large surface areas. If I find any nice results I'll be happy to share.

Thanks for asking!

Judy Shreve said...

I'm going to try & make up some terra sig this weekend. I'm using a technique from Vince Pitelka's book. Oh the adventures clay leads on . . .

ang said...

hi meagan, as i'm on a red quest at the mo what's the red glaze in 2nd to last pic, or is it only that dark over red clay?? hope your shows go well..

Meagan Chaney said...

Hey Ang, It does look a little red there, you're right. That's the same brownish-glossy glaze with red-iron oxide added that's shown in the last photo on the left. But if you still want the recipe, I'm happy to share. Good luck on your red quest. Red's are tough!

ang said...

thanks meagan, i'm using a creamy coloured clay base so that won't get me there, ta for the info..

Coral said...

i have been doing ceramics for several years and have found that a good slip trail slip is just to use the clay body you are using. i work primarily in porcelain so i just use porcelain slip about the constancy of sour cream. if you are working with redder clay and want a whiter slip a raku base works well too.

Meagan Chaney said...

Hi Coral,

Thanks for the tip! I may have to give that raku base slip a try if I start to have any major problems. Good luck to you. Porcelain - what patience!


Karen said...

Could you post the red slip recipe Megan? Thanks for the article on making the white one...

Meagan Chaney said...

Hi Karen,

The red slip I use is just made from the red clay that I use. I dry out some of the thin trimmings, the add water, mix it with a handheld mixer and sieve out some of the grog so the slip trailing bottle doesn't get clogged up. That easy. No recipe even needed. :)


Matt said...

What are the blue and green glazes in the pictures above?

Meagan Chaney said...

Hi Matt,

Thanks for asking.

The recipe for the blue glaze:
Base 4 -
65 Frit 3195
10 Gerstley Borate
15 Wollastonite
10 EPK
+ 2 Bentonite
+2 Cobalt carbonate

The green recipe is on my website. Here's a link:

It's the Bleeding Cake + 1 Chrome.

Thanks again and good luck!

Scotsmum said...

Thank you for this - what beautiful examples you show.
I was very cheered to see that slip can be made from the same clay as the item being worked on. My pottery teacher here in Edinburgh said that it was not possible to do that and it had to be made from especially fine clay with other ingredients. However, if the mix is to be blended and then sieved, then surely there can't be a problem.

Just one or two questions: is a domestic/kichen sieve (or hand-held blender) going to do the job well enough?

Have you ever tried drawing with the slip onto acetate and then quickly transferring it to the clay surface?

Many thanks in advance for your help.

Meagan Chaney said...

Hi Scotsmum,

Thanks for checking in on my blog!

I usually don't sieve ANY of my glazes or slip. (gasp!) I never mix more than 500g at a time, and a hand blender has always seemed to work just fine for me. I decided a while back that if a glaze/slip was fussy enough to need to be sieved, then I didn't want to use it! :)

And, no, I never have tried to apply the slip directly to acetate and then transfer it. Sounds like it holds some exciting possibilities though. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Cheers to you!