Making Slip!

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I made a bunch of slip the other day. I usually don’t make this much, at one time. I normally just make enough for what I need, but I have some plans for this slip. I can’t tell you yet, though! It’s a surprise.

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When I roll out a slab, I like to use up as much clay as I can. The little pieces I can’t use gets recycled into plastic freezer bags, some for wedging later, and some for slip. When I’m ready to make some slip, I break up the clay into little pieces, it takes less time that way. I put it in a plastic container, then I add water, and a secret ingredient I’ll tell you about in a little bit. Then I let it sit for a little while. When the clay starts to break down, I put it in a mixing bowl, so I can stir it.

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Every once in a while I give it a stir, until I think it’s ready to be strained. When it’s ready, I strain it into a clean bowl. I use a spoon to swish it around, because of the little lumps of clay still in the slip. If the lumps are too large, I just take them out and put it in a bowl for later.

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And here it is, one batch done…two more to go! Doesn’t it look yummy!

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Here’s a close-up view!

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Then I put it in a clean container!

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The secret ingredient I was telling you about before…is distilled white vinegar. When I first started making pottery I only used water in my slip. But then a few years later I met a potter who used white vinegar. At first, I thought it was kind of strange, and kind of smelly too. He told me that it made the clay beak down faster, and made the slip more sticky. So, I was curious! But, I didn’t try it right away, then one day I did! He was right! It breaks down the clay faster, so it takes less time to make slip, and it is stickier. So it’s great when you need to attach handles or anything else. I’ve been using it for 20 years now, and it works great. I don’t have any measurements for how much vinegar to add, I just wing it. I use mostly water, and eye-ball the amount of vinegar.

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Three batches…all done! I made them with different thickness, one is on the thin side, for attaching things like handles, the other one is little thicker, and the last one is even thicker. Now I just have to put the lids on.

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And now, it’s time to clean up!

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69 thoughts on “Making Slip!

    • No, I’ve never heard of that. I don’t think that’s a good idea! The one thing you don’t want to do is make too much dust. That’s very dangerous. My first pottery teacher drilled clay safety into our heads, and I’m really thankful that he did. I try and make as little dust as possible. I never sand pottery, I always use a sponge. When I clean up, I wet everything first.

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      • I do leave my clay scraps to dry out completely before I make slip or reclaim them. I find they soften and break down much faster and with fewer lumps. I keep dust to a minimum too. Trimmings from throwing are already small so I just put them in an open container to dry out. Trimmings from handbuilding, I break up into small pieces while they are wet, then let them dry out, then pour water over them and let them sit. When they have softened sufficiently, stir it up and add water as needed to get the consistency you want. I’ve never added vinegar but I have heard of people doing it. I think I’ll give it a try. thanks.

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  2. I tried it and it’s magic! I even used it to repair a greenware piece and it was amazingly easy! Wow thanks, I’ve been doing pottery for 20 years and this the best tip 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I just let my clay get dry (fattening it makes it easier) stick it in a ziplock bag and use a rolling pin to crush it up. I then pour it into my container and add water and wha-la! No dust, and no waiting.

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  4. Thanks, I am always looking for new ways to improve production.
    I have been mixing Magic Water in my slip. It doesn’t get sticky but it seem to hold handles well.
    I also keep Magic Water in a separate container.
    Cheers to pottery.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. You can use vinegar to make your glazes gel almost instantly so to eliminate drips and to help them suspend better. It doesn’t take all that much to make a difference; maybe a capful or two. Look up Tony Hanson on YouTube and look for his video on gel-ing a glaze. Great stuff.

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    • A pottery teacher told me about it in 1995, but he never gave me any measurements. I just eye ball it. I pour it right from the bottle…a little at a time and stir. Just add a little at a time, you don’t want to put too much. When the slip is sticky, it should work fine. That’s why vinegar works so well, it makes the slip sticky. Thanks for commenting Mel. Hope this is helpful! 🙂

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    • Yeah, it might. I’ve never had that problem, even when I lived in Florida. But, I don’t make large batches so, that might be why. I use vinegar because it makes the slip really sticky and I find that it works so much better. Thanks Karen! I hope it helps you. 🙂

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  6. Melinda, I was reading your take on making slip and it looks good. I use a different and much faster technique…..just buy the clay in dry form and then add water to a blender…….then keep adding and mixing the clay dust until you achieve the right consistency. There are no lumps in this slip and it can easily be used in cake decorator tips on the pottery. I tried several things before landing on this. It saves me tons of time and I leave it in the blender to be remixed on demand.
    Hope this helps you in some way…..Keith Carpenter – Beans Ferry Pottery.net

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    • Translated into English – I liked your idea … I want to know if this magic glue can I prepare it with paste …, I hope your answer … thanks!

      Thank you! I’m not really sure what you mean by magic glue prepared with paste? Can you explain?

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I’m so glad to hear that you’ve been using vinegar in your slip. I had the great pleasure of taking a ceramics class at the University of Minnesota with Margaret Bohls as my instructor (several years ago). She encouraged her students to use vinegar when hand building and it really is a good addition to slip. Thanks so much for the tips!

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    • It depends on where you live, if you live in a dry climate or a humid one, how often you use it, and how much you make. When I notice that my slip is getting a little dry, I just add some water. If it needs a little more vinegar…I add that too.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve never experienced that before, and I lived in Florida where everything tends to get moldy. Do you make large batches of slip? I make small batches so, it’s not that old. Maybe that’s why I’ve never had that problem before. I don’t know of a way to prevent it, other than making smaller batches, so it’s not sitting around to long…getting moldy. I hope this helps! Thanks for commenting.

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    • Bleach works to kill the mold, but bleach isn’t a long term solution. Laguna clay offered an additive that inhibited the growth of organics (aka mold) in a damp slurry. I believe the name is Proxel. I can’t find it online to verify, but i’ll check my cabinet once i get back to work.

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  8. Everyone who describes how to make slip fails to answer this burning question: why use bone-dry clay to make slip? why not start with moist clay? That seems a lot less trouble.

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    • I never use bone dry clay. I always use wet clay to make slip. I save all of my little scraps of clay, put them in a gallon size plastic bag, and when I have enough clay, I make slip. Every once in a while, I spray water in the plastic bag so the clay doesn’t get dry. Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Bone dry clay will ‘slake’ down into slip faster than slightly wet clay, exspecailly if you take a rolling pin to the dry clay to break it up into small bits.

      Slaking: when clay is dry the water will dislodge the particles of clay from one another; the effect looks like the clay is dissolving. (dissolving is a different process, thus emphasis on the ‘looks’) While the water in the slightly damp clay will hold the clay particles together via hydrogen bonding. The process of rewetting the damp clay takes longer because the water has to be absorbed in between the clay particles rather than pushing them apart. The resulting slip will be the same regardless of the method, speed is the difference, assuming you have bone dry clay readily available.

      Epson salt is better than vinager simply because of the smell, both are effective flocculants.

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      • Bone dry clay is very dangerous! Breathing it in can and will cause cancer. Are you kidding me! You’re telling people to take a rolling pin to the dry clay to break it up into small bits. Obviously you know nothing about clay safety. I don’t care if it takes longer…it’s safer. You never create clay dust, never sand clay, never sweep the floor. You always wet down the surfaces that you work on with a sponge, wash the floor with a wet mop and wash your tools. SAFTEY FIRST!!! I learned this from my college ceramics teacher.

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    • If the clay is bone dry it actually just dissolves right away to a mush after you add water. If it is moist it will stay lumpy, and I guess you would have to blend it- a step that is not necessary if you just use the bone dry clay. You are right ,this is not the way you’d think it would work.

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      • Bone dry clay is very dangerous! Breathing it in can and will cause cancer. I don’t care if it takes longer to make slip or if it has lumps…it’s safer. You never create clay dust, never sand clay, never sweep the floor. You always wet down the surfaces that you work on with a sponge, wash the floor with a wet mop and wash your tools. SAFTEY FIRST!!! I learned this from my college ceramics teacher and continue to practice clay safety…always!

        Liked by 1 person

    • I read about an experiment suggested by a ceramics instructor (it was Simon Leach, I believe) to observe slaking. Taking approximately equal parts of damp clay and bone dry clay, he added water. After waiting a day or two, the damp clay was completely in tact. The bone dry clay has dissolved completely and only needed to be stirred to blend the water leaving an even slip.

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      • When I was in college, majoring in fine arts ceramics in Houston, Texas. My ceramics professor stressed to our class how dangerous clay dust can be. He taught us about clay safety. Never make dust, never sand clay, never sweep your workshop, use a wet mop. Always keep everything clean, wash your wheel with water and a sponge, wash your work area with a wet sponge, wash your tools. Keep everything clean and NEVER MAKE DUST! I do not use bone dry clay. It’s not safe to breath in clay dust.

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