Saturday, January 30, 2010

Pottery: Beginnings Part 2- Slip Trailing

Eventually making and selling reproduction folk pottery became not very creatively fulfilling for me. I'm sure, looking at the photos of the work, you can see why. I wanted to find a way for my electric kiln to give me the kind of interesting glazes that a gas kiln gives. That's a tall order and I naively thought I could make it work.

I really enjoyed the slip trailing technique that I learned to replicate the salt glazed crocks and jugs of the 18th and 19th centuries. Slip trailing is a technique of taking liquefied clay and adding a mineral colorant like cobalt and piping it onto the pottery. (Very similar to cake decorating, no?)

In folk pottery slip trailing was done with a simple cup that had a straw sticking out the bottom for a tip. It took great skill to get the beautiful designs you see on old pottery.

I did slip trailing with a Clairol squeeze bottle as my tool.

(Decorating my kitchen tiles with slip trailed cobalt designs. 1994)

I then started using the slip-trailing techniques in a new way.

14" platter

14" wall platter

This set of cannister jars was a commission.

9" bowl

And garden art...

I made short and tall birdbaths....

and hanging ones.

I left behind the craft show days and started doing art fairs and gallery shows.

I loved making this slip-trailed work but it didn't sell very well. I have no clue why.

Which brings up the ages old question of whether an artist/craftsperson should make work they enjoy or work they can sell. It can be very difficult to find that happy middle place of making work you love to make and work that other people love too.

Looking at these photos makes me want to get back in my studio and do some more slip-trailing. Just for fun.


  1. That display is beautiful. I believe I like slip-trailing very much.

  2. I like the pottery history summation.

    My aesthetics snobbery is showing its ugly head. I was making coffee this morning, looking for a cup that I like. I thought of the coffee cups I have at home that came from your studio, and was whining (in my head, to myself) about how I wanted one here. I kicked myself for not packing one to travel with and use for coffee consumption.
    Really, I'm not serving anyone coffee, drinking my coffee around anyone, or even in the same house (town? city?) with anyone who cares about what kind of coffee mug I'm using. I'm stupid picky. In the end, the coffee tasted the same out of a plain, white mass produced mug. But I hated looking at it.

  3. I think your work is beautiful! If you lived near me I would have bought these items!

    I agree with you Kris. While it IS just a coffee mug for only you to see, it is so nice to have a beautiful one to lift your spirits too.

    I've decided to replace all my ugly, plain, matching coffee mugs with unique and beautiful ones that cross my path.

  4. Beauty matters in every day things. Stoneware mugs also keep your coffee hot longer than factory mugs.

    There are many potters everywhere needing to sell their wares, mumuv3, so I'm sure you can find something to suit your tastes. Otherwise, I can ship anywhere!

    This year I have a goal to get some work online for sale, at Hearth and Home, Etsy or something! I just gotta.

  5. You definitely need to get them on Etsy. When I get my recently unemployed self back to Oregon, I'll shoot some good photos for you to sell with. I think it's a great idea. I bet you would sell more ikibanas and coffee mugs than you could make.

  6. Etsy would be wonderful! I'm excited thinking about it!


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