Colored clay slips and sgraffito

The colored clay slips we have in the ceramics studio are used for adding color and/or contrast to your object. The most important thing to remember when using the clay slips is that they MUST go onto your object while the object is still wet. The object can be anywhere from wet to leatherhard, but it cannot be bone dry. If your object is too dry, the clay slip will not stick and will chip off.

The slips are made from porcelain clay, so it can safely go on the bottom of the object if you want color to go all the way around the form.

Since the slips are clay, glaze can be applied over the slip (after it has been bisque fired).

Another popular way to use the slips is a through technique called “sgraffito”. Basically, sgrafitto is when you apply a colored slip and then cut or carve through it to reveal the clay underneath. This usually works best when you use a contrasting color, so that the pattern is easier to see. Remember, the color of stoneware clay changes throughout the firing process.

Brian Harper demonstrating the clay slips at IUS Ceramics

This set of test tiles shows each of the clay slips we stock in the ceramics studio. The top row is fired to cone 10 and the bottom to cone 6. Both rows have a clear glaze on the bottom half of the tiles, so you can see how the clear glaze changes the intensity of the color and the surface.

Colored clay slip test tiles at IUS Ceramics

The following images are some examples of the sgraffito technique.

Work by Jeff Guerrero
sgraffito example
Sgraffito work by @jarjourpottery
Work by Pigeon Road Pottery
sgraffito example
In progress sgraffito plate by @modhome.ceramics