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Published Jan 9, 2023

Thick slip applicationPlates are so fun to make because of the large, mostly flat, blank canvas they provide. But rather than just slapping decoration on haphazardly, the most successful potters consider basic design principles when decorating their work.
In today's post, an excerpt from the January 2023 issue of Ceramics Monthly, Ryan Coppage explains the successful design elements used in Justin Lambert's plates. Plus Justin shares his tips and techniques for creating texture with thick slips. –Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor

Thrown, Ribbed, and Glazed Visual Cues

Throwing lines, ribbed motifs, and slip and glaze decoration are tools artists use to direct the viewer’s eye. These visual cues can be used in myriad ways, as shown in the examples below. Whether built into the form (like a wheel thrown spiral) or added at the decorating stage (like Justin Lambert’s slipped designs), these visual cues make a large impact on the design aesthetic of the finished pot and reflect the artist’s intentions for the viewer’s eye.

Justin Lambert’s lunch plate, 9 in. (23 cm) in width, unglazed porcelain blend, fired in an anagama kiln for 55 hours with black olive, laurel oak, and acacia woods, cooled in reduction, 2017.

Process: Justin Lambert’s Thick Slip Textures

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1 I use my throwing bucket slurry to make my decorating slip. I do not add anything to it or sieve it. I simply mix it up with a drill mixer attachment until all the lumps are gone. The thickness or thinness of the slip determines the line quality, and in comparison to other slip-decorating artists, my slip is usually a thinner consistency. 2–6 I apply slip using a soft rib in my right hand, while moving the wheel head manually with my left hand. I suggest that you lay out black plastic on the table, pour down some slip, and use a variety of tools to learn how you want to move the material as an exercise. Photos: Andrea Bravo Lambert.

Excerpted from The Anatomy of a Good Pot by Ryan Coppage, PhD, published by The American Ceramic Society and available at