A-Z of Ceramics - S is for Slipware
'Slip' is clay suspended in water to form a liquid of creamy consistency. Many 'industrial' and modern ceramics are formed entirely from slip poured into plaster moulds.
Since around 1900, however, the term 'slipware' has been applied specifically to slip-decorated ware. These are pots that have been coated in slip, have applied slip decoration, or a combination of both. The clay used for the slip is usually in a contrasting colour or colours to that of the ceramic body. Slip decoration comprises a variety of techniques such as painting, trailing or 'jewelling' or inlaying into relief designs.
By applying one or sometimes two coats of slip, the potter can decorate the pot in various ways. Incision (also known as 'sgraffito') involves cutting through the slip to reveal the body beneath. Combing or feathering means dragging a serrated tool through the wet slip coats. Marbling is created by agitating the still-wet, slip coats on the object.