Tips and Tools: Balloon Slipping


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Over the last 20 years I’ve put slip onto leather-hard pots in just about every way imaginable. From forms such as small cups up to large platters and bowls, I have found various ways to get slip on my pots.

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Recently, I have been inflating a common latex balloon (1) inside my jars to keep the slip or glaze from getting into the interior while coating the exterior. I always enjoy having a bit of fun and taking risks in the studio, which is how I discovered that small- and medium-sized convex-shaped pots can be held and lifted up by holding the top of the inflated balloon, allowing me to fully apply slip without getting any on the inside of the form.

To try this in your studio, wax the foot of the pot. Blow up a balloon inside the jar (2) and hold it tightly. It’s not necessary to tie off the balloon as long as it is twisted and held securely closed (3). Next hold the pot over the slip bucket and pour slip onto the pot (4). Note: If you have enough slip in the bucket to cover the entire pot, you can try dipping it into the slip.

The balloon forms a seal in the mouth of the pot and prevents any slip from entering the interior. After the jar is slipped, tilt it and give a shake to allow excess slip to drip off the pot. Use a damp sponge to remove any material lingering on the waxed foot (5). When finished, the jar is set down on a clean ware board and the balloon is deflated and removed before the pot is left to dry (6).

This technique works great to apply slip or glaze to almost any sized pot. For a heavier form, instead of suspending the pot, place it on a banding wheel over a basin to catch the excess slip or glaze that is poured on.

the author Ron Philbeck is a full-time studio potter living in Shelby, North Carolina. To learn more, visit http://ronphilbeckpottery.com.

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