Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: bowls, classes, pottery, process

You know I usually cringe when one of my students starts off with that.
“So I saw this video on YouTube…”

I love when there are so many tips & tricks out there for potters, but frequently they’re also learning “bad” tricks along the way. So I’ve tried to steer clear of YouTube for the most part. But recently, I did do a quick search looking for new techniques to share with my students. This week is Week Eight for my class so they’re well on their way… and ready for some more surface decorating techniques.

We’ve already used colored slip to change the color “skin” of their work. But when I saw this slip trailing… err, dripping… I though that my students would love this trick. And it’s not too advanced. It appeared to be pretty easy… so of course I decided to go for it. And “teach” this technique to my students without ever practicing myself!!! And quite honestly… I think it worked out pretty well. Click here for the YouTube video of slip trailing on a bowl. You may not understand a word he says… but the video alone is pretty mesmerizing! Here’s a still shot from the video…

Basically, you cover the surface with a thick layer of slip. The add a couple spirals. Then add some “drips” that will run down through the drawn spirals. The demo pieces on the video are a bit cleaner than mine… but I’m sure he’s been doing this technique a bit longer than me. Can you say 10 minutes?!

And once I had some confidence after the bowl, we tackled a more vertical surface on a taller vase. More room for the slip to run & drip. Click here for the YouTube video of slip trailing on a vase. Again, I think the potter may be speaking Russian?… and I’m not sure if this is “his” signature style or if it is more of a traditional Ukranian style of decoration? Here’s a still shot from the video…

We did learn a few things along the way. My slips probably should have been sieved through a fine mesh screen. And I should have tried to get them all to be a better consistency… a couple of them were a bit too watery. And I think I needed to make the base layer and the horizontal spiral with thicker slip so that there was enough slip to “move” as the drips pushed down.

After we had “played” with drippy slips, I switched it up and did a much cleaner demo for my class. I took a wet-leatherhard bowl and did a carved texture pattern around the outside wising my round loop trimming tool and a smaller sgraffito loop tool. It’s a carving technique I learned from Amy Higgason of Pigeon Road Pottery. She used to be one of the Lillstreet studio artists, but now she lives up in the Wisconsin Northwoods. Luckily, she has shared her carving techniques and they still pop-up from time to time. In fact, she even did a demo for my class a few years back… click here to go to the blog post!

So now all three pieces are done, back up in my studio, and wrapped up for the night. I still need to trim the slip decorated pieces, but I need to wait until the slip is a bit dryer. All in all, I think it was a pretty successful evening. Several of my students gave it a shot & had fun with drippy slip… and I hope when they get around to trimming a few more pieces they may consider some decorative carving!!!


March 5th, 2014

This guy from YouTube has a really steady hand 🙂


March 5th, 2014

This is Traditional Bulgarian pottery (not Ukranian). The tourist videotaping it speaks Russian, but the potter is from Bulgaria. He is a Master potter in Baltchik, Bulgaria. I think you had a good first try.

Terri Romano

March 5th, 2014

Love this!!!

March 5th, 2014

If my students are trying to learn from YouTube videos I try to steer them towards the good instructors. You can learn a lot from a video, we just want them to learn good stuff like this technique.


March 5th, 2014

Thanks so much for this info. What type of bulbs or syringes did you use?

March 5th, 2014

NALA – Thanks for the update. I will now try to find out more about him. His technique is pretty impressive!!!

March 5th, 2014

ELAINE – I just used whatever little plastic squirt bottles I could round up in my studio. Although any kind should work. Many people recommended the bottles that come with hair dye kits?… I wouldn’t know. Maybe even the plastic red & yellow kethcup & mustard bottles they sell for camping? I’m sure you could find them online if you did a quick search. His looked more like a ball syringe? And then he had little tubes attached to the tips – I presume to alter the diameter of the opening to get just the right amount of slip to flow through. I think I need to keep trying…

March 5th, 2014

I need my students to learn the good techniques before they learn a bunch of crazy tricks… and even worse, a bunch of bad habits!!!


October 29th, 2014

Some really good ceramic vids on youtube are done by John Britt-under his name-and also Ceramic Arts Daily.


February 21st, 2015

Thanks for sharing! Wish it was translated but still very nice! I saw some of the bulbs at the pottery supply store…

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