Slip it, Glaze it, Make it Pretty!

I’m back with part three of my hand ceramics series! Now that we have talked about materials, techniques and the process of making things from clay, we need to look at how to decorate our designs. We will be using different textures and colours to bring our ideas to life.

Quick vocabulary refresh:

  • Slip: Used to add colour to semi-dry clay, using causing a matte look.
  • Glaze: Used to create a colourful glossy effect and make our ceramics food safe.


A good way to enhance the richness of your designs is to add layers of coloured slip. In the image below you can see the initial colour of my work. It appears to be a light teal almost blue colour. However, once it had dried, it became completely sky blue. I added more layers letting each coat dry before adding another. Once I finished the design with a clear glaze, the final product had a deep light blue appearance.

surface decoration – Marble Effects

One design technique I absolutely adored learning was creating marble decoration. I started with a grey glaze, just as a foundation to build upon. Once it dried, I coated my pinch pot in blue slip, making sure to let the layers semi-dry before adding another. I was now ready to make marble magic happen! Once you have selected your colours, start pouring the glaze directly onto your work, no need for a brush! Feel free to pick up your design and encourage the swirls and marbles to appear. Once you are happy for the results, you can leave it to dry, voila!


I think adding different textures takes our ceramic projects to the next level! Nets, woven or ridged materials, leaves and nails are just a few of the things we can use to add more dimension to our work. To do something similar to the pictures below, you should gently press the vase, plate or whatever you are making into the material you are using for the impression. This will need to be done whilst the clay is still wet, depending on how deep you want the impression to be. If you are artistically gifted, you could also freehand a design using different sized and shaped sculpting tools. Take a look at my trial attempt in the third picture below. You can use all sides of the tools to add texture. The dots were created using the bottom of my shaping tool. The type and depth of texture created also depends on the amount of pressure used.

Top tip! Use small slabs with different coloured glazes and fired to help you remember what the final colour will actually be!

So there we have it! A few ways to add some design and colour to your ceramic creations! Don’t be afraid to experiment and push the boundaries with your work.

3 fitting words for this post; experimental, artistic, explore

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