8 Oct 12

Working with coloured slips

I think sometimes its commonly thought that the only way to add a colour to a pot is through glaze and coloured slips take a back seat to the dazzling colours of glazes.

A coloured slip can be applied to any leather hard pot it’s actually made from clay itself which has a smooth texture from being mixed with water. Often this slip or slurry is excess clay from during the throwing process mixed with a coloured pigment. Sometimes more complex slips can be reactive such as a rutile which when glaze fired brings out a mixture of colours and textures.

Due to their simplicity they’re usually more predictable in the firing process and more stable than glazes which you need a recipe to concoct. To seal a pot with coloured slip on it all you need is a transparent glaze which is a basic glaze with no colouring in it to reveal the slip underneath.

I’ve sometimes had mixed experiences with coloured slips; Because you have to brush them on to the pot sometimes you end up with a streaky or uneven texture, although that is part of the charm!

The main problem though is getting the consistency right and balancing the amount of pigment, some colours like blue can look very washed out rather than giving a bright cobalt colour. If you can’t tell I’ve recently been using slips again to create a set of dishes, working with them again has changed my mind about slips so maybe I should use them more often!


  1. Cheryl Mersman says:

    What is difference between a color slip and an underglaze? I am new to pottery so still learning…the pictures above look like you used an underglaze.

    • Victoria says:

      Slip is liquid clay mixed with a mineral colourant.

      Underglaze can refer to any medium, including slip, which is applied to a pot prior to glazing. You can get commercially made underglaze paints, pens and chalks but these tend to have other ingredients in them than just the combination of clay plus mineral. It is possible to apply underglaze paint or stain at almost any stage before the glaze firing, you can only add a slip to a pot at a leatherhard stage.

      At least thats my understanding of it!

Leave a Reply