Earthenware pottery decorated with coloured slip (liquid clay) and then glazed. It was the main decorative technique in the 17th and mid 18th centuries before the introduction of enamels.

Slipware is pottery that has been treated, in one way or another, with semi-liquid clay, or slip.


Slip trailed decoration reached its peak in popularity during the reign of Charles II. The Toft family produced especially fine slipware - usually large platters of red clay, which were covered in white slip and then trailed with decoration, very often featuring the royal family, mermaids and pelicans. 

Feathering and marbling were also carried out using slip, such as the owl shown below:

Ozzy the owl
a North Staffordshire slipware owl jug

on Ozzy


Slip painting was widely used in ancient Egyptian pottery, in which animal and scenic motifs are painted in white slip on a red body, and in North American Indian wares. Another form of slip decoration is the piping on of trails of slip in the manner of cake icing, so that a design is achieved in lines of colour (often white) contrasting with the body of the vessel. Further moulding of the applied slip may be carried out or small blobs of slip dropped on and then moulded or stamped with a raspberry, rosette, or other shape.

Dotted and trailed slip decoration was probably never so well executed as in 17th-century England, where the North Staffordshire potters depicted human and animal figures, stylised flowers, and fluid linear patterns. The technique demanded great dexterity and control.


slipware design
This old stoneware plate is glazed in cobalt blue with 
a fine slipware design in cream, mint, and rust. 
It measures 10 1/8" and is quite heavy and 
thicker than your typical plate.


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