Tuesday, April 12, 2011

slip and leaf technique

the japanese maple in front of the gallery has leaves now which means i need to get busy making plates with maple leaf impressions.  they were very popular last year and i don't have any left in the gallery.  i figured while i was making them i would take some pictures and share the technique i use.  it isn't anything i invented but everyone touches clay in their own way...

after the plates are thrown and are still in a semi-soft state, i lay the leaves on to the plates and impress them into the clay with a pony roller

i apply a white slip over the leaves and up to the rim with a soft brush... i then roll a small nylon piece of rope up and down, around the rim for some texture.  i have a rope wrapped and glued around a dowel that was purchased, but for this application the dowel ends get in the way and muck up the rim.  for some things simple is best!

we keep an recycled kitty litter bucket full of slip that we mix up... here is the recipe written right on the lid so that it is always handy.  feel free to give it a try... we fire to ^10.  this slip looks great in salt and soda.

i use this handy dandy kitchen mixer to stir it before using... as you can see it is on it's last leg and held together with duct tape.  i hope i can find another at a yard sale! we use a larger mixer on an electric drill for 5+ gal buckets of glazes.

once the slip has set up i can peel the leaves up, usually quite easily if i slip a needle tool under the stem.

i let the slip set up, for a few hours or overnight (covered in plastic) and then setting the plate and bat back on the wheel and carve and accent ring using a small dolan carving tool.

when the plates are leather hard i will finish trimming them.  when they are completely dry and ready to bisque i will go over them lightly with a green scotch scrubby and remove any unwanted high or bumpy points in the slip.

here is an example of a plate that was fired with wood and salt

this one was reduction fired to ^10 in our gas kiln

we will be participating in a wood/salt firing with our friend Prissy Newell in Carthage at the end of the month... i am hoping this new round of plates and platters will make it into that kiln.


  1. Your plates look great, I've also used leaves as resist in my work, but for my the slip I use mason stain in just clay slip. So your slip recipe is a slip glaze of sorts, right? I found stems of some leaves I've used go too deep into the clay and leave a rough mark even if I sand them.

  2. Linda - it's not considered a glaze, this is the base recipe and you add 10% chrome for green, 1% cobalt for blue etc...
    i have some blue slip that john mixed with the clay body we used in NH and it is just the clay with cobalt. it works well but i would test it before using on some of the clays we use now.
    sometimes the stem do imbed quite deep into the clay but i have good luck with those little green scrubbies prior to the bisque firing. worn ones, cut to a small size work well for detail areas.

  3. Those are gorgeous. Now I'm checking all the trees in my yard to see which one will have the best leaves. :)


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