Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Now that I'm not in a rush to get things ready for a show maybe I can go back and talk a little about the process that went into some of the pieces.  Most of what I made for the show were forms I've never tried before.  Some of the surface treatments were new for me also.  Hey, why not up the stress level by experimenting?  One of the materials I tried out with very little testing was a couple of variations on a slip that is wonderfully versatile.  It can be applied to greenware, bisque, and even over glaze. It does not rub off easily, so handling the piece after applying the slip will not result in smears.  It can be applied like paint so that it is opaque, or thinned to use as a wash. Maybe you clay people out there already know all about it, but if not, and if you're interested, here is the recipe-

George's Black Drawing Slip

Kaolin (EPK) 64.2
Gerstley Borate 13.4
Black Mason (#6600) 22.3

I use it at cone 6, but the recipe states it can be use at 04-6.  Like I said, very versatile, and I've used it for a few years.  When I wanted to try the animal heads and was mulling over how I was going to get the colors I wanted I figured why not use the same recipe with other Mason Stains?

It's not difficult to come up with browns.  Iron oxide is a very common material to the potter.  Mix it with water for a wash, throw into your clay slip, use it in an engobe, but to come up with the shades of golden browns I wanted without a lot of  time-consuming tests was another story.  Paint was briefly considered as an option.  But, I sometimes sell knob hangers which I suggest can be used to hang pendants, scarves...etc.  I was thinking of suggesting that the animal heads could be used, like the knob hangers, to display favorite necklaces, in which case a fired-on pigment would offer durability that paint could not match.

I mixed up two batches subbing 20 grams of 6107 (dark golden brown) in place of the black in one, and 20 grams 6190 (deep brown), likewise in place of black, for the other.  I thought that I could probably use a little less than the black since getting a black may require more density.  I did some mixing and overlapping with these slips, and added more water where I wanted a lighter pigment.  I also used some of my usuals- white slip applied when the pieces were in the greenware state, and some iron oxide wash rubbed into texture after they were bisqued.  I will say that unless the Drawing Slip is watered down it will overpower the Fe wash.  Though the Drawing Slip may be used on  greenware as well as bisque, I only used it after the pieces were bisque fired as the bisque allows for better absorption.

Well, that's about it.  These heads were left unglazed.  My other pieces in the show were glazed.  I mostly used glazes I already had but ventured into some new layering combinations I will not go into here, since I'm getting a bit lengthy as it is.

One more thing...The piece shown here was sold the night of the opening to a very nice couple who were buying it as a gift.  They described to me how it would go with the recipient's  home.  They were happy, and it's going to someone who will appreciate it. Nice to hear.


  1. I’ll put that recipe in my database, thanks.
    I like animal sculpture left unglazed, it looks more natural to me. Yours are very nice.

    1. I forgot to mention that I clipped that recipe from a Clay Times some years ago. I failed to get the author's name or I'd give credit. Thanks for the compliment on the critters.


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