Slipware Pottery – what is it?

Slipware is pottery known by its primary decorating method in which slip is added before firing by dipping, painting or splashing on the leather-hard clay body surface. Slip is an aqueous clay body suspension that is a combination of clays and other minerals, such as quartz, feldspar, and mica. A range of methods, including dipping, painting, piping or splashing, the slip on a wet or leather-hard clay body surface.

Slip-painting, where the slip is treated as paint and used to create a pattern using brushes or other instruments, and slip-trailing, where the slip, typically relatively thick, is dripped, piped or trailed onto the body generally from some device such as the piping bag used to decorate cakes, are the main techniques. Barbotine is the French word for slip, and this term can be used for both methods, but usually for different time periods.

Example of a slipware jar
Example of a slipware jar

In contrast to the many styles where a simple slip is applied to the whole body, for example, most fine goods in ancient Roman pottery, such as African red slip ware, are often described as slipware only in pottery where the slip produces patterns or pictures (note: “slipware” not “slipware”). Decorative slips can be a different colour or provide other decorative qualities than the underlying clay body. The effect of painted ceramic, such as in the black-figure or red-figure pottery styles of Ancient Greek pottery, can be produced by selectively adding layers of coloured slips. In Chinese pottery, slip decoration is also an ancient technique, used over 4,000 years ago to cover whole vessels.(wikipedia)

Dish – John Wright

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