Making thin lines on pottery is a challenge with a slip trailer, but there are a couple other options that can get the job done: mishima, slip inlay with wax, and maybe some others.
In today’s post, we’ll focus on slip inlay with wax. Doug Peltzman uses this technique, combined with some latex resist to create his beautiful segmented decoration. Read on to see how he does it! – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.
My decorating technique requires incised lines inlaid with a black slip. When the teapot becomes leather hard, brush wax on the entire piece.
Note: The added moisture from the wax can soften the piece, so be careful when handling.
Once the wax dries, the piece is ready to be incised with lines, patterns, or drawings. I divide my piece into equal vertical sections using a ruler and a needle tool and incise horizontal lines by using the contours of the horizontal clay rings as a guide (figure 1). Now that the piece has been broken up into sections, I start by filling in every other square with a pattern. When all of the incisions are complete, begin to inlay black slip.
Using a small brush, carefully paint slip into each line. You’ll find that because of the wax layer on the clay, the slip beads right into the incision (figure 2). The wax also helps with the clean up. Use a lightly dampened sponge to remove any excess black slip. The wax creates a barrier and doesn’t allow the sponge to remove clay or let the black slip muddy up the white porcelain.
The last step in the greenware stage is to apply texture if desired. I use the teeth of a cut-up hacksaw blade to apply texture to all of the areas that aren’t incised and inlaid.
Erin Furimsky demonstrates this technique, among MANY others, in her video Layered Surfaces!
Bisque fire the teapot to at least cone 04, to ensure the clay body isn’t too porous and doesn’t absorb too much glaze, wash the piece to remove dust and allow it to fully dry.
To mask off areas for applying multiple glazes, I use liquid latex. The latex is ammonia based, so use it in a well-ventilated area.
Tip: To prolong the life of your brushes, designate a few to use with latex only.
The latex is quite thick and fairly controllable to brush (figure 3). If you get some on the wrong area, wait for it to dry and peel it up. Once all the latex has dried, you can glaze the inside of the teapot.
To glaze the outside, plug up the spout with a small piece of clay so glaze does not flood the inside of the teapot. Hold the teapot from the foot and submerge it into the bucket of glaze. Repeat the same steps for the lid, leaving the bottom edge where it will rest on the kiln shelf unglazed.
Once the glaze has dried, apply a coat of wax over the glazed areas to ensure the second glaze coat doesn’t adhere to or mix with the first. When the wax is dry, you can peel off the latex (figure 4). Apply a second coat of a different colored glaze (figure 5).
The glaze will only stick to the areas where you removed the latex. Beads of glaze may stick to the waxed layer of glaze; just use a clean, lightly damp sponge to wipe off the excess prior to firing.
When preparing to fire porcelain, apply alumina wax to the foot and lid so they do not stick to the shelf during the firing. Fire the piece to the recommended temperature for your clay and glaze.
Doug Peltzman works as a full-time studio potter out of his home studio in the Hudson Valley area of New York. He is actively exhibiting and selling his work nationally. To see more of his work go to www.dougpeltzman.com.
**First published in 2014