A CMC article and process for producing the article to have a layer on its surface that protects a reinforcement material within the article from damage. The method entails providing a body containing a ceramic reinforcement material in a matrix material that contains a precursor of a ceramic matrix material. A fraction of the reinforcement material is present and possibly exposed at a surface of the body. The body surface is then provided with a surface layer formed of a slurry containing a particulate material but lacking the reinforcement material of the body. The body and surface layer are heated to form the article by converting the precursor within the body to form the ceramic matrix material in which the reinforcement material is contained, and by converting the surface layer to form the protective layer that covers any fraction of the reinforcement material exposed at the body surface.