Getting Weird with Mud

Getting Weird with Mud



When we say slipware, we’re not talking about lingerie. We’re talking about the mind blowing way different clays come together. We love to get dirty, especially with mud. Slip is a clay mixed with water or, if you’re a purist, saliva.


We particularly like slipware that is earthenware decorated with slip. Abstract existentialism. Experimental Archeology. Having fun trying to replicate textures, colors and designs of slipware. There’s an aspect of digging for the perfect mud and exploring the mysteries of how different clays come together to shape our lives. If you think about it, ceramics are a major part of our everyday. From tiles, to teapots, plates to vases and on. Slipware is able to be a fulcrum of function and form.


Slipware an ancient art that is associated with a certain vernacular, mostly due to its kiln firing. It’s hard to fire a kiln to 1,800 F to 2,400 F in a city. That’s why most slipware is associated with the countryside. Some countrysides happen to have excellent mud to process into clay, some do not.   It’s a complex science to making clay and the history of slipware is rich with different textures, colors and meanings. Slipware is a global art that travels and takes influences from different regions, especially nowadays in the global community of slipware. It’s a generous community, not burdened by secrets, just experiments.



We’ve found ourselves particularly drawn to Andrew McGarva and Dylan Bowen, which is why we feature them at the Guild. Tension is something we embrace and see as dialogue/growth and that is always something that must be monitored when dealing with clay and slip. The viscosity of slip needs special attention because it will stiffen the moment it comes into contact with the leather-hard clay. When working with slip it is a careful balance of pure freedom and precise control.


What’s really hot about slipware is how its origins stem from function, i.e. where/how are we going to store our fish or carry our water?! To, shall we present our food on this gorgeous platter? Slipware a way of honoring our primordial traditions and getting weird with mud.

- by Nicole Nelch




Further reading:

Country Pottery: Traditional Earthenware of Britain by Andrew McGarva

Living In The Country Growing Weird: A Deep Rural Adventure by Dennis Parks

Mary Wondrausch On Slipware by Mary Wondrausch



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