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Laying it on Thick: Decorating with Slip Inlay on Bisqueware

Posted By Jennifer Harnetty On January 18, 2012 @ 2:51 pm In Ceramic Decorating Techniques,Daily,Features | No Comments

 

Blue and White Jar, 23 in. (58 cm) in height, porcelain with inlayed cobalt pigments.

Blue and White Jar, 23 in. (58 cm) in height, porcelain with inlayed cobalt pigments.

If you frequent Ceramic Arts Daily, you may be familiar with the term Mishima because we’ve posted several different variations on the technique in the past. Mishima is a traditional Korean surface decorating technique that involves inlaying a colored slip into incised lines on leather-hard clay.

 

I have found another variation on Mishima that I just had to share today. In this post, ceramic artist Steven Young Lee explains the Mishima variation that works best for his work. Instead of working with leather hard clay, Lee lays a thick coating of slip onto bisqueware and then scrapes it off with a metal rib. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.


Most of my work begins on the wheel with traditional forming techniques. Pieces are wheel-thrown in either one or two parts using Archie Bray grolleg porcelain or dark stoneware and are manipulated at further stages of the process. Each body of work utilizes a different surface treatment that is chosen based on conceptual or aesthetic necessity and fired to the appropriate temperature.

 

Birds of North America, 18 in. (46 cm) in height, porcelain with inlayed cobalt and decals.

Birds of North America, 18 in. (46 cm) in height, porcelain with inlayed cobalt and decals.

The blue and white pieces are made with porcelain clay and fired to cone 10 reduction. For the decoration I use an inlay technique, drawing into the surface of the leather hard clay with a set of small woodcarving knives. The timing and choice of clay is crucial to get a clean line; the porcelain provides a smooth clean surface to draw on but if the clay is too dry the edges will tear and crumble. The drawing takes about 2-3 days during which time the work is kept in a plastic tent to maintain humidity and protect the drawn lines.

 

In the traditional Korean inlay process (Mishima), the slip is added to the leather-hard piece and then scraped off when dry to reveal the inlayed colored clays. I’ve tried this method in the past but found that I would often lose some of the detail in my drawing. I now bisque-fire my pieces first, sand the edges down with sandpaper, and then fill in the carved lines with cobalt/porcelain slip. After the slip dries on the surface I can scrape off the excess with a metal rib to be reconstituted and used again. The surface is wiped clean of excess slip and then glazed with a clear glaze.

 



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White Slip Base:
Grolleg 30
EPK 15
XX Saggar 25
Neph Sy 15
Flint 15
Total: 100%

After a piece has been carved and bisque fired, inlay slip is applied and allowed to dry before it is removed with a metal rib. This allows Lee to preserve the precision of the carving.

After a piece has been carved and bisque fired, inlay slip is applied and allowed to dry before it is removed with a metal rib. This allows Lee to preserve the precision of the carving.

Inlay Slip Colorants:
Blue- Cobalt Oxide 1-2%
Black- Cobalt Oxide 4%
Manganese Dioxide 4%
Red Iron Oxide 6%
Chrome Oxide 2%

 


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