Rene Murray’s Slab Inlay Technique: A Fun and Spontaneous Ceramic Decorating Technique

Rene Murray rolls a white clay into a red clay to begin her slab inlay technique.

In today’s video, Rene Murray, a presenter at the upcoming Potters Council Surface + Form Conference, demonstrates her twist on inlaying contrasting clay bodies into one another for graphical surface decoration. One of the things I really liked in Rene’s video was the idea of laying down a picture plain of color before laying down imagery. I just really loved the irregular edges of the plain of color and how it set off the picture. I also loved her spontaneity – something I struggle with in the studio. Hope you like it too! – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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Rene Murray will be a presenter at the
Potters Council Surface + Form conference.

Register before December 27, 2010 and save $50!


To learn more about Rene Murray or see more images of her work, please visit


For another twist on slip inlay, check out Handbuilding with Mitch Lyons in the Ceramic Arts Daily Bookstore.

  • I am so excited to see this woman’s work. I love the simplicity of her patterns. They are great…awesome. I love her work and the buildings she makes…see them toward the end of the video…wow!!!!

  • Excellent video!! I thought I was going to give myself some time off this week. But after watching this, I am totally amped to go back out to the studio and get busy. (how many more shopping days do I have?)

    Rene: beautiful work – thank you so much for sharing your expertise.

  • Fantastic, really loved this. Do you have a glaze recipe for oxidation shino type?

  • Frankly, I pass over most of the videos, but I am sure glad I watched this one. Incredibly inspiring … I will be using this technique soon.

  • Love this technique! Does anyone have a suggestion about different ways to make platters or trays. I am getting alot of warping. HELP! In this video I would have loved to see the foot on her tray.

  • Rene,
    Your video is definitely inspiring. I can’t make it to your show but if you have a book or video I will buy right away.
    Handbuilding is my thing and normally there is not a lot to see on the ceramicsart.daily publications (which I watch every day) and your video was not only simplistic but creative and rich, things that I never thought about.
    Rene, please let me know about your book………..It is so exciting.

  • A really fun video – I forwarded it to two of my friends and want to run right out to my very messy studio and give it a try (much more fun than cleaning up the studio which I meant to do).

  • loved this video. I am inspired once again by these videos.

    Please keep them coming. Did not know that you could combine 2 different clays with different firing temps.

  • Wonderful work and your explanations are so clear. I cannot wait to try this.

  • I enjoyed the simplicity of your designs very much. Now to trust myself to try it in my own style. Thank you. I enjoyed it very much and so glad to see a woman ceramicist!

  • Thank you Rene for sharing your techniques and your beautiful work with us! Loved this video and inspired to try this myself. Merry Christmas everyone. Jan from Australia

  • great video..I too did not know you could fire 2 different clays with different firing temps. Do you fire to the higher temp clay?

  • I love this technique. Can’t wait to try it out. Thanks, Rene!

  • This is video was well presented and easy to understand. Rene explains the technique in a clear and precise manner making the steps easy to follow. The result is a great piece of work that has inspired me to see what I can do using this technique.

  • Thank you Rene for your explanations : so clear, very pedagogic, I am in a hurry to try and I ‘ll show you the result !
    Francoise from Paris

  • Very nice, thank you . i may try it with my shop.

  • Adorei este video, como eu trabalho somente com placas de argila, achei muito criativo, vou tentar esta tecnica.
    Cris Couto – Brasil

  • You Murrays are terrific! I would love to have one of your pieces. They are such light hearted and happy pieces!
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas and techniques.

  • Hey Pat, Angelina & other fellow potters,

    Rene IS NOT using two clays that fire at different temperatures. She said she was using porcelain and a stoneware that had red iron oxide added to it for color.

    Just thought I’d mention it…

  • I never ceased to be amazed at the wonderful and varied ways we can use “Mother Earth” This visit to your site has been a delight, encourages one to move beyond the square, again.


  • Chief-Clay Inlayer!

    You are a top-notch teacher. I agree with previous comments that you have presented a very easy to follow video using simple language. All steps were extremely delineated. You clearly stopped between steps and reminded the viewer frequently “wash your hands.” I am definitely going to try this technique.

    Again, loved your video and you excel as a teacher.


  • I haven’t been able to see any of the videos here. Very frustrating. I had to go to u-tube to see her work.

  • Dear René,
    Thank you very much for your explanation. It’s always amazing to see the creativity of people with a mass of clay.
    The video inspired me a lot.
    It is a pleasure to follow your work.
    Viviane from Belgium

  • I can’t wait to show my students this technique……..they’ll be impressed!

  • What clay bodies do you use to assure compatable thermal expansion ratios?

  • Merci Renée MURAY pour cette technique, j’ai regardé mais n’a pas tout compris en ce qui concerne :
    est ce du sable en dessous de l’argile?
    l’émaillage est fait avec quel émail?
    , (car je ne parle pas américain), donc pour regarder c’est bien, mais je ne comprends pas votre langue, dommage, je vais essayer cette technique avec de l’argile faience blanche et rouge, mais je pense que je peux aussi employer cette technique avec du grés noir et blanc ?
    A votre disposition
    merci encore
    salutations les meilleures Eliane

  • Bonjour Éliane,
    Sous l’argile, c’est une poudre d’argile a basse température,cuite, émiettée.
    Pour l’émail, elle a démontré une cuite oxydée et l’autre réduite.
    Monique, Canada

  • René:

    Great creative works. Have tried this technique in the past, but have had trouble with the clay cracking when drying to greenware. The clay supplier said that it has to do with how much water is in the clay mix. If one clay has more water in it, it will dry at a slower rate causing one or both of the clays to crack, also said that the shrinkage for both clays have to be the same.

    My question is how do you keep this from happing.

    Best Regards,

  • To Ann, to avoid warpage, top and bottom of platter needs to dry equally. Place on a wire rack to dry so air flows on top and bottom. If you are working on surface of your pot for extended time, make sure bottom is on absorbent surface to equal the evaporation taking place on top.

  • Very good video. Love the way you explain everything so clearly…..

    Sharon Zachary

  • I love this technique as Rene demonstrates it…and her whimsical artform appeals to me very much… well done video thanks

  • Rene, AWESOME! Loved your technique….can’t wait to try it out. You made it look so very simple. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Thanks Rene. I had never watched one of these videos before…glad I did! Really great technique that can have many applications. Similar to some of the others, I’m wondering about the shrinkage percentage…do the clays have to shrink at the same rate? Also, I’ve never seen grog used in this manner, kind of like flour when working with dough. What happens to it…do you dust it off or leave it on for texture?

  • Loved the video and got lots of new ideas from it. Can you please share your cone 6 glaze the barium one?

  • Nice demo Rene. Not only are you clear, informative, and interesting, you are very pleasant to watch and to listen to 🙂 Question: Do you ever have problems with the small coils drying out so much so that they do not bond with the clay beneath? If so, do you have recommendations for dealing with that? Thank you!

  • Absolutely loved your technique – the simplicity is wonderful, thank you.


  • your beautiful work and your generosity are inspiring
    thank you very much for sharing your experience
    I thought different clays couldn’t be mixed, they may shrink differently and separate, how do you avoid this?

  • Great video. I am so inspired by it. Thanks so much for sharing this technique. PJ

  • It s a very informative video and I love your artistic technique.Do you have any suggestions for a glaze tranparent matt cone 02 and cone 04.



  • I love your technique, and am inspired to try my own version. Thanks so much!

  • Excellent video! Well done. I wonder if this technique would work with raku glazes.

  • Hi Rane, Wow… It is Beautiful work, thank you for sharing…..

  • Very interesting technique. Congratulations.

  • Beautiful! Can’t wait to try it, and appreciate seeing all the finished work so we can see how it turns out. Thanks!

  • I have tried a similar process with good results provided the slabs that were inlayed were finished with flat walls. Any finished form that required curving the slab walls was problematic. The inlayed clay pulled away from the base clay. I imagine this had to do with the clay compatability/shrinkage rates of the two clay bodies used. Was wondering if anyone has a suggestion as to which clay bodies I can purchase for better results.


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