Thursday, February 5, 2009

Slip Slop Stain

I've been wanting to experiment with some colored slips. I decided to try mason stains, since there is such a wide range of color choices. The perfect opportunity came when a green ware, palm tree sculpture I was moving fell on the floor. It was broken beyond repair. It took me forever making all those palm fronds and propping them up with crumpled pieces of paper bag. Boo Hoo! But it'll make the best slip, right?

I broke the sculpture up into a bunch of little pieces and laid them all out to dry out. One of my classmates walked by and was staring at the ware board of clay particles with a quizzical look. So I said to him (very seriously), "How do you like my sculpture?" He said, "Very nice, Linda". I replied, "I call it free form sculpture". He said, "OK, Linda". I didn't want to keep him in suspense so I told him what I was doing. Perhaps I should have just let him wonder. I took all the pieces of clay home to set them in the sun the next day to dry.

I usually mix up my slip with a large metal tablespoon. This time I wanted my slip to be real smooth, so after I let the dry clay slake in water, I took the bowl outside and mixed it up with my hand held mixer. It came out real creamy. Notice my professional looking cardboard box table top on the gravel driveway. It's supposed to rain tomorrow so I wanted to get this mixed up today. I sure wasn't going to mix it inside, clay would have splattered everywhere.

I am calling the 'real', scientific method of measurement I'm using a slip slop stain. I make up some slip, I slop it into a container and I add some stain. It's not quite that haphazard, but it isn't weighed either. I am using a type of volumetric measurement described recently in Ceramic Arts Daily.

In the article Sumi Von Dassow recommended using 2 tablespoons of stain for 8 ounces of glaze. That's about 12 percent stain. I want to try 5 percent and 10 percent stain in my slip. One cup of slip is 48 teaspoons or 16 tablespoons. Five percent of stain would be 0.8 tablespoons or 2.4 teaspoons and ten percent of stain would be 1.6 tablespoons or 4.8 teaspoons. I read when firing Cone 10, I should need less stain than I would at Cone 6, the opposite of what I would normally think. A higher temperature makes a brighter color with less stain. I know I'm putting the stains in slip not glaze, we'll see what happens.

Surely Jane Peiser and Vince Pitelka would cringe at my slip slop stain description and methods, but we all have to start somewhere with our experiments and I am beginning here. I will be testing Sky Blue, Ivy, and Best Black, mason stains. I am adding these to my porcelain slip and I will be firing to Cone 10. I may also try the same stains on my Soldate 60 stoneware body to see how they react with that clay body. I also want to try come colored clay inlays too. Whoh! That's a whole lot of experiments.

If you have any advice or experience using stains, please share. What do you store your small batches of slip in? I've got some small plastic containers I purchased in a pack of three and some larger ones I picked up at the dollar store. If I don't run out of time and slip, I'll also try some Copper Carbonate, Copper Oxide and Red Iron Oxide combos too.

Now that I've written all about the mixtures I'll be making, I better get off my d**f - uh, garden bench - and get busy making my slip slop stain. Look for more experiments in the future with Frit 3134 and some Nickle Oxide? Comments and advice are always welcome, this mad scientist can use all the help she can get. Toodles for now.


  1. The beginning of this post made me laugh out loud. I had scraps of clay under the drying lamps at the school so they could be used for slip. One of my fellow students walked by, picked up a piece and said "What's all this?" I replied "Oh my god! You've ruined my sculpture. You're going to have to call the MOMA and tell them the show is off."

    Good luck with the colored slips. Unfortunately, I have no adivce to offer.

  2. Haha! Great minds think alike, huh?

    I have never even used slips before, much less colored. Unless you consider using slip to attach pieces. I do look forward to seeing your results though!!

  3. Linda, I have no suggestions either.... but this post reminds me that I have MUCH to learn about slips! I really like your sculpture. I can imagine those pieces glued to something, , fired with a bunch of colored slips, and then hung on a wall; it would be beautiful-- REALLY!

  4. Great story. I could just see the guy's face. But too bad you lost your palm tree!
    I have not made slips but I like all the information and that you shared exactly how you plan to make them. The slip slop method sounds good to me. I have some 16 oz brushing glaze containers that I have collected and use and reuse for little batches of glaze experiments, etc. I will be happy to see your results especially with the inlays.
    I don't know if I would ever get any slips made if I had that inviting garden bench, with the filtered sun . . .

  5. Hi Jerry, my classmate is kind of a prankster so I thought I had him going, but I don't think I did.

    Hi Ben, I went to class tonight with my slip stained mixtures and used them on those large leaf panels I posted about some time ago, we shall see. Meantime I am going to try some inlay.

    Hi Amy, I already crushed it all up into slip. I want to make another palm tree with a leaning trunk anyway. This one was too stiff.

    Hi Barbara, I mixed them up this afternoon and the green was the darkest, next the black and then the blue. I used them on some leaf panels I made last semester. Not sure how they will turn out. I will be mixing up some more slip tomorrow for the porcelain pieces I have made more trial and error.

  6. Oh Barbara, since my back isn't that great any more I plan on taking more time to enjoy the garden I have created here. I've been carrying around that bench for years from residence to residence. I really like it; it used to be black but we painted it.

  7. Sorry bout the palm tree, but you certainly turned lemons into lemonade!

  8. Thanks Patricia, I tried out my lemonade yesterday and it is in the bisque load, so I know real soon if it's tasty or not.

  9. Looks like some yummy cake batter (photo #4)!!

    I use mason stains to color slip too - here's one post

    Pretty much just like you made it.

    I have made colored slips with oxides too - but I like mason stains for their what you see is what you get. Oxides require a much smaller amount, however - which could make it less expensive. Think - cobalt carb - you would need so little to color the clay.

    I use old 32 oz. yogurt or cottage cheese containers to store my slip - word to the wise I also label the slip with the amount of stain I used/ slip so that I can recreate it again if I like it.

  10. I love your use of kitchen utensils! I find making ceramics so much like cooking. Thanks for stopping by my blog! :)

  11. Hey Cynthia, I'll have to re-read your post. Blogs are so neat that all the information is still there to reference at a later date, thanks.

    Hi Mary Anne, I was thinking using the stainless steel utensils would be more sanitary since they won't absorb ingredients and they are easy to clean too. I'll keep them just for clay now that I've used them there. I've always thought cooking was chemistry; now I see clay has more chemistry than I knew. Thanks.

  12. Well I make slip slop & add my mason stains to it. Using porcelain clay, left over procelain throwing water & the hand mixer, make a thick slop of slip. (No measuring) If you sling it, the slip slop lands in a pud and stays put. I use 1/3 slip slop to 1/4 to 1 tsp of Mason stain. (Haven't gone over this ratio yet)
    Paint on porcelain, fire to cone 10. Some colors burn out so I add another 1/4 tsp to the slip slop and continue painting.
    Looks wonderful.
    Now working on making Stoneware slip slop, can't wait to begin using it.
    Have fun & enjoy.
    billie in texas

  13. Hi Billie, welcome. I think I started out with about 1 cup of slip and 1 teaspoon of stain, worked fairly well. It truly is fun being able to paint with the slip. Check back again because I'll be working with some more stained very soon because I just got some more colors. Fun for sure.

  14. Linda, Hi there from Lilburn, GA! I've been researching how to cover my porcelain surface to look more like grey stoneware (crazy custom order)and this post has been so helpful. Thank you!

  15. Hi Allison, thanks, gray is one of the hardest colors, try some test tiles first, go glad to meet you, now I have to look up where Lilburn is, I still have my blog and I now live in Georgia in Blairsville.


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