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Engobes can be defined as liquid clay slips of varying compositions which are applied to the surface of a clay object, e.g. a pot. The purpose of the engobe can be as different as the varied forms it comes in: to give color to a piece; to improve the surface texture; to provide a ground to do further decoration on; to add textures.
Engobes can be applied to wet clay surfaces, leather-hard ware, greenware and even bisqued wares. In each case the engobe's shrinkage rate should match that of the clay underneath, otherwise cracking (when the engobe shrinks more than the clay underneath) or shivering (when the clay underneath shrinks more than the engobe on top) can occur. While there are some basic engobe recipes around, The Potter's Complete Book of Clay and Glazes by James Chappel has a range of engobe recipes for diferent grades of moisture content and firing ranges from cone 10 up to cone 11