Pottery Video of the Week: Layering and Carving Colored Slips on a Slab-Built Vessel

Curt Benzle explains how to create interesting pattern and texture by carving a slab of layered, colored slip.

Curt Benzle explains how to create interesting pattern and texture by carving a slab of layered, colored slip.

Most potters are inclined to think of glaze and underglaze when it comes to adding color to their work. But working with colored clays is a great alternative to glazes and underglazes. With the vast palette available today in commercial stains, it is possible to come up with just about any color in the rainbow. Mixing stains into into a clay body (most effective with a light clay body) appeals to a lot of people because it opens up many opportunities for developing more precise patterning than is possible with glaze.

In today’s video, Curt Benzle demonstrates a simple way to create texture and pattern on a vessel by layering and carving colored slips. –Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

To learn more about Curt Benzle or see images of his work, please visit http://www.benzleporcelain.com/.

  • Curtis B.

    It seems that the main question has to do with “blotting”. I use cotton sheeting(polyester does not work). the older the better. It does not take a long time(maybe a couple of minutes. To speed things up use more than one layer of sheeting. I like layering slip because I can manipulate the slip–develop patterns, think and thin areas etc. I would suggest NOT using a heat gun etc as it tends to just dry the surface. Blotting pulls up all the water. If you lift the sheet and the slip comes up just put it back down for a little while longer.

    I am very glad you all liked the video. If you have any specific questions please feel free to email me at curtisbenzle@gmail.com

  • It looks like a great technique, however I would like to know if it was glazed, and with what (clear?) and see the piece after firing.

  • Nigel, that sounds like an interesting variation on this technique. Thanks.
    But I was wondering, Curt, what advantage slip layering has over laminating different colored clays, I would think it time consuming to blot and dry each slip layer vs. clay layers. Perhaps the thinness of the slip vs the clay thickness?
    Very clear explanatory video, thanks.

  • Better sound than usual for me, lol. I love this technique! I wonder why the blotting? Is it just to hurry the process along, and would a fan work as well? Doesn’t blotting the layers pick up alot of the slip? As always, I would love to see the finished product….or don’t you glaze them?

  • I want to try it on a thrown vessel and a wiggle wire

  • Barbara` B.

    I have a similar question about the blotting….paper towel, think sheeting? Generally, how long does the blotting take? How do you recycle the laminated clay? Or do you throw it away? A matching neutral clay slip for joining sections? Video worked mostly well. Some jumping around with the picture.

  • What a wealth of ideas. Lyn I love your work too. Your site inspired me-they are do-able ideas (although probably you make them look easier than they are.)

  • I am assuming that you glaze the fired pieces? Do you use colored glaze or clear glaze?

  • George H.

    I loved the video! I use slip quite a bit with sgraffito but never thought to apply it before building my objects and I usually only use one layer on top of the base clay layer. I’m wondering – does the blotting of the slip help dry the slip layer yet help prevent the entire clay layer from drying out too much? Maybe allowing it to air dry allows it to dry out too much?? Also…has anyone figured out what he was using to blot with – it looks a little thicker than a bed sheet – almost like a cloth diaper.

    Thanks…loved the video, George

  • Richard P.

    sound was good, really detailed video of an interesting ‘sgrafitto’ type effect.

    …your counter tops are [probably] laminated…formica [or other material] glued on top of a substrate[3/4″ plywood, which is another laminate]…it is combining thin layers of materials.
    you could start out with sort of thick layers, one onto of another, then roll them out to thin them to the dimension you need. lots of interesting things happen when you thin slabs of clay…; ^)

  • You don’t have to blot the slabs – try using a hair dryer or hot air paint stripper – however if using a hot air paint stripper – becareful as the heat can be too intense – a hair dryer is safer. You could also create interesting texture if you allow the air from the hair dryer to blow the wet slip into wave like patterns – you can also marble using this technique and different coloured slips.

  • G’day from Australia…love the blog and the video ideas…this has potential for alot of variety….many thanks

  • Carole S.

    I enjoy working with colored slips but haven’t done any layering. Question: Are you blotting with paper towels? That is what it looks like….just wanted to be sure.

  • Christie M.

    He says you can laminate slabs of different colors of clay. How do you laminate?

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