Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Making Ceramic Pottery: Glazing

Do you live near Princeton, New Jersey? Come visit me at the Crafter's Marketplace on November 19 & 20, 2011. Find great handcrafted gifts for someone special.


A glaze is a special kind of glass which is chemically formulated to adhere onto the surface of the clay when fired. Most functional pieces of pottery are glazed to make them water resistant, durable, and easy to clean. Glazes can be found in all kinds of colors and opaque or translucent.  Many potters mix their own glazes using time-tested recipes or experiment with chemical combinations to make new colors or textures. Since this isn’t a full time adventure for me, I buy ready to use, commercially available glazes.

My stash of glazes.
Glaze can be applied in many ways including dipping (dunking your pot into a vat of glaze), brushing (just like painting), pouring (the glaze over the pot), or spraying (using an airbrush-like device).  Layering glazes one on top of another can produce an infinite number of color combinations and effects.

This is my glaze board. The tiles are called test tiles because they allow me to see what the glazes look like on the clay I use. Each tile set is a pair, one in brown clay and the other in white clay - a glaze can look very different depending on what clay it’s applied to. I also apply one glaze on the top half of each tile and another glaze on the bottom half with an overlap of about an inch in the middle. This lets me see what glazes look like when layered.

 Next time: Finishing your pottery, the final firing.

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