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Mat Slip Decoration
Obtaining satin-mat surfaces using slips

Have you ever seen satin-mat ceramic surfaces and wondered how it is done? Easy -- by decorating with color slips made from the same clay body! Using slips made from the same body as your ceramic pieces is quite easy, but there are a few things to consider. The technique is outlned below.

The first quesion is how to make the base slip from your usual throwing or building body, i.e. the uncolored slip. If you are mixing up your clay body from dry ingredients, then you can skip the first part. A fine white earthenware, stoneware or porcelain is most suitable to this technique, although coarser clays can also be used. Dark clays are not really suitable unless you are thinking of aplying a lighter colored slip on top, in which case you will have to try out a different clay body.

Slip decorated mug by Elise Helland-HansenIf you are making up the slip from a wet clay, you need to roll out some of that clay into slabs and then dry them. Once dry, crush the slabs (the thinner they are the easier this will be to do), e.g. using a hammer or rolling pin or both. Sieve the powder through a medium fine mesh (wear a mask when doing this). This procedure will also remove any grog, if your clay was a coarse one. Next, add a small amount (like a drop or two) of sodium silicate to about a cup of warm water in a container. Slowly add slip powder to your water, stirring all the time. Some lumps may form, but don't worry about this. Keep adding powder until you have a lquid roughly the consistancy of cream. Finally, mix the slip using a drill mixer attachment or other blender of some sort. Now you can strain the liquid through a fine mesh into it's final container. The slip may thicken slightly on standing -- this is due to the sodium silicate, which adds fluidity to the slip while reducung the amount of necessary water. So if the slip thickens in the strainer it's not abnormal and you can help the flow through with a spoon or ladle.

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