- Ceramic Arts Daily - http://ceramicartsdaily.org -

Color Splash: How to Make Vibrant Bursts of Color on Pottery Using Ceramic Colorants and Slip

Platter with colored slip decoration by potter Lana Wilson

Impressing textures into soft clay and then playing with those textures in the glazing process is loads of fun (in my humble opinion). I often do washes of color on my textured surfaces, leaving concentrations of the glaze or colorant in the recesses. But sometimes when I wash the slip or glaze off, the color loses its vibrancy. So I loved this tip from Lana Wilson. Lana uses steel wool rather than water and a sponge and maintains the bright color of the slips she uses.


Today, Annie Chrietzberg explains Lana’s process and shares the clear glaze recipe she uses to make her work food safe. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.


Lana Wilson’s work is mostly black and white with bits of vibrant color splashed about. She says, “I have a background in painting, and this technique really appeals to the painter in me.” She was inspired by the work of Denise Smith of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Claudia Reese, a potter from Texas.


Simple Slip


To prepare the slip, Wilson takes 100 grams of small pieces of bone dry clay and adds 10-50 grams of a stain. The percentages of stains varies according to the intensity of color she is trying to achieve.


The clay Wilson uses is Half & Half from Laguna, formulated for firing at cone 5, though she fires it to cone 6. This clay body is half porcelain and half white stoneware. It’s not as white as porcelain, but it does fire white rather than yellow in oxidation, isn’t as finicky as porcelain, and works well with Wilson’s making methods. If you’re buying clay from the East Coast, she suggests a clay body called Little Loafers from Highwater Clays.

This technique comes to you from the pages of Pottery Making Illustrated.

PMI is the only ceramic art magazine in the world written entirely by potters for potters. And it shows. Experienced ceramic artists share their tips, their techniques and their information so you can avoid time-consuming mistakes and get the most out of your studio time.

Subscribe or renew your subscription today!


Easy Application


Potter Lana Wilson sponges black slip off of a platter, leaving color in the recessed texture The technique is simple. On a piece of bisqueware, first brush on black slip or one of the base colors then sponge it off, leaving slip in the crevices.
Potter Lana Wilson applies colored slip to certain areas of a textured platter Then, using colored slips dab on bits of color here and there.

Remove some of that with steel wool. “I can’t use water for this step or it will muddy the colors,” Wilson explains.

CAUTION: You must wear a respirator during this stage!

In the final step, Lana dips the piece in a clear glaze, and fires to cone 6. Through lots of experimenting, and with lots more to go, Wilson finds that ending with a dark color on top works best for her.


Mixing Colored Slips


There are two groups of colored slips. The first group Wilson uses for the base coat that she washes off, leaving color in all the recesses. The accent slips are more intense and removed with steel wool. All stains are Mason stains except for 27496 Persimmon Red, which is from Cerdec. Add the stains and bone dry clay to water and allow to sit for 30-60 minutes so it will mix easier.


Base Coat or Wash Colors  
6600 Best Black 10%
6339 Royal Blue  5-10%
6069 Dark Coral 35%
Accent Slips  
6129 Golden Ambrosia 30%
6485 Titanium Yellow  20%
6024 Orange 30%
6236 Chartreuse 50%
6027 Tangerine 15%
6211 Pea Green 50%
6288 Turquoise  50%
6242 Bermuda 10%
6069 Dark Coral   35%
6122 Cedar   25%
6304 Violet  60%
K5997 Cherry Red* 30%
27496 Persimmon Red (Cerdec)* 30%
* inclusion pigments  

Glaze Recipe


Kate the Younger Clear Glaze    Cone 6
Raw Material  
Ferro Frit 3195 70%
EPK Kaolin 8%
Wollastonite 10%
Silica 12%
Total 100%
Bentonite 2%
From Richard Burkett. Use over colored slips. Shiny, resistant to crazing, cool slowly.



NOTE: Stain-bearing slips applied to surfaces that come into contact with food need to be covered with a food-safe clear glaze. Because of the many variables involved in glazes (clay body and glaze fit, variability in chemical content, temperature variability in kilns, organic materials, etc.), we cannot guarantee food safety on the recipes we post. The best way to be certain is to have one of your finished pieces leach tested by a lab.


Glaze Testing Resources:






To learn more about Lana Wilson or see more images of her work, visit www.lanawilson.com.