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  • jencburke

Coloring Slip

In this post we will talk about how to test adding pigments to your slip for colored clay!

Recommended Supplies

- slip

- mason stains

- plastic cups

- small scale

- pitcher

- strainer

- sharpie

- needle tool

- plastic spoons or stir sticks

- non stick surface for clay samples


Step 1: Decide how much slip you are going to use to create your samples.

This process works whether you make your slip in studio or buy it premade. I always recommend doing samples before committing to a whole batch. This is because the pigments may not fire to the ideal color and requires multiple tests to create desired color. I recommend testing with 100g of slip per each color sample. This amount makes it easy to get the correct ratios and any smaller amount would be hard to measure other ingredients.

Step 2: Pick your Pigments

I like to go to my local clay supply store to get my mason stains. All the ones I have used before come in powder form. You can also ask your local store for tips and recommendation of brands. If there isn’t a local store there are plenty of online options. We will be testing with three different amounts of pigments added to the slip to see different shades of the pigments once fired.

Step 3: Deciding Test Ratios

We will be testing colors with 3 different amounts of pigments added to slip for each color you may be testing. I typically test 5, 10, and 15 percent. However, if Im working with a particularly strong color (such as red or black) I may test 3, 5, and 8 percent. This allows you to see how much pigment needs to be added to reach desired color or sometimes to discover fun new shades of your stains.

Here is a table of the ratios I use of slip, stain, and water for each test amount.
















Step 4: Labeling cups and Prep

You will need 3 test cups for each color. One for the slip, Stain, and water. I like to label my cups and lay them all out to help me keep track of things. Especially when testing multiple colors at once. Also, it is important to strain slip before mixing or using. I like to strain my slip over a pitcher to make it easy for pouring exact measurements.

Step 5: Measure!

Measure out the slip, stain, and water according to your chosen ratios each in their own individual cup and set to the side.

Step 6: Mix Water and Stain

Take your cup of measured pigment and add it to the water cup. Try to get as much stain out of the cup and leave as little residue as possible. Use plastic spoon or stir stick to mix together water and stain very thoroughly. I prefer plastic spoons vs wood stir sticks because these mixtures leave zero residue on plastic spoons. The wood may absorb some of the water and pigment.

Step 7: Pour water/stain Mixture into Slip

Take the combined water and stain mixture and pour into the cup of slip and mix very thoroughly. You now have colored slip that is ready to pour samples!

Step 8: Pouring samples

I pour little dollops onto a plaster surface or the back of one of my molds. This provides a flat, non-stick, and mobile surface while samples are drying. The plaster also allows for the slip samples to dry and come off surface naturally. When solid enough to hold, I use the needle to to carve 5g, 10g, and 15g and the stain number to keep track of them after firing.

You now have colored slip samples that are ready to be fired!


Bonus Step: Make use of leftover slip

I like to use the leftovers of all my newly colored slips and pour them into one of my molds I have handy. Pour a little bit of each color into mold until it is full to get a fun marbled piece!

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