Decorating with thick slip is one of the most relaxing things I do in the studio. Making all those tiny dots or squiggles can be quite hypnotic. I use a white and a brown trailing slip, one each made from the clay bodies that I use in the studio, which are Miller Clay's B-mix 10, and their #700. I used to mix clay from my own recipe; I stopped, but that is a whole 'nother post. Today I mixed up brown trailing slip. Every studio should have a blender. I got mine at the Salvation Army for $4, (after hubby fried my old one, also a thrift store find.) I also use a palette knife, just in case I have to stick something in the blender to work the clay mass loose. Even if the appliance is unplugged, those blades are sharp! I fill the blender about halfway up with slurry from my recycle bucket, then hit "liquefy" on the settings. I'll have to add water a couple of times, trying to get to a cake-batter consistency.After pouring it into a plastic tub, I thump the container on the tabletop maybe about twenty times, to get the air bubbles to rise up and pop. This is an important step; if you skip it you will be slipping along, making tiny little dots, when your bottle will suddenly make a flatulent noise and spit out a messy splatter of slip, and you'll have to sponge it all off and start over again. My brown slip trailing bottle has two tips. (I use seperate bottles for the white slip.) The broad tip is great for fluid lines; the pointy tip makes dots. And here's another 'tip' for you: you can star making those fluid lines off the side when you are decorating a platter, so that the "starting blob" is left on the tabletop not on the platter. I get inspired to do slip work looking at Steven Hill's platters, like this one.
Lori Keenan Watts (aka me) is a potter, gardener, and avid reader from Augusta, Maine. Though I started my university education in surface design for fabric, clay quickly grabbed me by the heart and redirected my creative impulses. I have been a potter for over 25 years -- hard to believe. The most valuable years of my ceramic education were spent in graduate study at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, under the tutalage of Dan Anderson and Paul Dresang.
My aesthetic is guided by my love of the material itself. What fascinates me and makes a pot compelling for me is the clay-ness of clay: the squooshiness that becomes the adamantine solidity. I also like patterns, unexpected proportions, and when the flame comes along and dissolves part of my careful decorating efforts! I am obstinate about this aesthetic, to a point which might be called pig-headed, but hey, if you don't like what you make, why bother?
My happy little family also includes my husband, musician and photographer (and author of the book Alewife) Doug Watts; five cats; and a turtle, all foundlings and rescues of one stripe or another.