Alberta Slip

Description

Low temperature, fine grained, medium plastic, dark brown burning clay that melts to form glossy rich beanpot brown slip glazes at high fire reduction (cone 10) and a glossy transparent brown glaze around cone 6 oxidation (with a 20% boron frit addition e.g. Ferro 3134). Albany Slip was long been a 'standard' within the North American pottery community. It was a silty glacial clay that melted easily at high temperatures to form a 'natural glaze'. With a little frit, feldspar, lithium carbonate, or gerstley borate, it produced a wide range of earth tone glazes in middle fire oxidation. Albany Slip responded well to coloring oxides and stains to produce deep blacks, browns and even blues and it produced a low thermal expansion (to avoid crazing). At cone 10R with only a small iron addition excellent tenmoku surfaces were possible. In the late 1980s Hamill and Gillespie Co. discontinued Albany Slip leaving thousands of users with less than ideal alternatives.

In 1988 we formulated Alberta Slip as the first widely available substitute material and published the process we used to do it. It had the same chemistry and very similar firing properties as an average sample of Albany Slip (the material was somewhat variable). Alberta Slip has been proven over many years and is used by people across North America to make many stunning glazes. Other substitutes have appeared from time to time but no others have had the success of this material.

All of these mugs are made from glazes whose major component is either Alberta Slip or Ravenscrag Slip. They are all fired at cone 10R.

For more information about Alberta Slip please visit http://albertaslip.com or this article at digitalfire.com.

Firing

Like classic Albany Slip, Alberta Slip begins melting at middle temperatures and by cone 10 it produces a glossy brown in oxidation and a tenmoku in reduction. One of the major advantages of this material is the ease with which it can be adapted to different temperatures. 20% frit produces very good melting at cone 6 and 50% melts at cone 06.

Since it is basically a clay material, it generates a significant amount of gases as it decomposes during melting. However despite this it can produce stunningly smooth and defect-free surfaces (we do not have a good explanation for this).

Glazing

There are some coarser particles in the material so always sieve your glazes through 80 mesh or finer before use (the increased effort to screen finer than 80 mesh is not generally worth the trouble).

Since Alberta Slip is a plastic clay it dries hard but has an associated shrinkage, that means you may need to calcine part of the Alberta Slip powder (see the preparation page at AlbertaSlip.com for details). It is thus an ideal base for 'slip glazes' that are used on leather-hard ware and must shrink with the piece.

Like Albany Slip, Alberta Slip has a low thermal expansion. Thus glazes will tend to be craze free. However, if you use significant lithium carbonate as a flux with this material, be advised that it can shift the already low expansion enough to produce shivering, a hazardous situation for both user and maker alike.

Our melt flow tests show that Alberta Slip displays the same characteristic blistering as Albany in fast firings, however, it does not melt quite as vigorously (although it does flow as well). In addition, Alberta slip is not as inherently fine and silty as Albany. Alberta slip will tend to gel glaze suspensions a little more than Albany did and it does not deflocculate easily.

Glaze Recipes

Since Alberta Slip is already dark glossy firing, it is an ideal base for dark shiny colors because less colorant is needed. It can be used 'as is' for high temperature glossy brown glazes and with small additions of flux (i.e. 15% frit 3134, or 20-30 feldspar or nepheline, or 5-10% Gerstley borate) it works well down to cone 6 or lower. Since the dark color is an important reason for using Alberta Slip it is best to dilute it with as little flux as possible.

Alberta Slip provides one of the best ways to create difficult-to-make black glazes. As little as 2-5% combined cobalt oxide, copper oxide, black stain, etc. can be employed to make range of excellent glossy blacks. Tom Coleman, for example, uses 30% nepheline syenite and 4.5% cobalt carbonate for a satin cone 10 black. The more fluid the glaze (i.e. more frit) the more the likelihood of crystalline effects. If minimum melter is used gunmetal black glazes can be achieved.

In the past variegated crystal green glazes were made with addition of around 5% rutile (and frit if needed). This works also with Alberta slip.

A classic cone 6 variegated brown recipe used Albany was 10 lithium carbonate, 5% tin, and 85% Albany. This works well with Alberta Slip, however like Albany, it can shiver on some bodies. You might try substituting some boron frit for some of the lithium or use a body of lower thermal expansion.

Visit the following page for information on variegating, opacifying and coloring glazes: Variegating Glazes.

For glaze recipes for Cone 10 and 6, please go to AlbertaSlip.com.

Getting a Sample: On our home page, please click on "dealers" for a listing of where Plainsman Clays can be purchased. In the US please contact The Archie Bray Foundation for a listing of Alberta Slip suppliers in your area.

Physical Properties

 Drying Shrinkage: 5.0-6.0%

Melt Flow:

 Cone 6: 3.0-4.0 cm
 Cone 8: 5.0-6.0 cm
 Cone 10: 7.0-8.0 cm

Sieve Analysis (Tyler mesh):

     +100: 0.0-0.1%
 100-150: 0.3-0.6
 150-200: 1.5-2.5
 200-325: 4.5-6.0

Chemical Analysis

The analysis of this material has changed in 2013, not because the material changed, but because we have switched to an actual assay for a calcuated analysis.

 CaO       5.9
 K2O       3.5
 MgO       3.9
 Na2O      2.2
 TiO2      0.3
 Al2O3    15.2
 P2O5      0.1
 SiO2     53.54
 Fe2O3     4.5
 LOI       9.2%

Downloads

  • Brochure for double-sided printing (uncheck the Fit to Page checkbox when printing or it will be too small)

Gallery

H450 mugs fired at cone 10R with pure Alberta Slip on the outsides, G1947U transparent (left) and pure Ravenscrag Slip on the insides. By Tony Hansen.

Safety Data Sheet

Click here for web view (format adheres to Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals - GHS)

Logo Plainsman Clays Ltd.
702 Wood Street, Medicine Hat, Alberta T1A 1E9
Phone: 403-527-8535 FAX:403-527-7508
Email: plainsman@telus.net