Fire It Up Series: Glazing Techniques
One of the great things about ceramic arts is the nearly limitless ways you can express your creativity. Pottery glaze lets you add unique colors and textures to your pieces prior to firing. It is a great way to design a piece that is crafted to your artistic style while also defining how you like your finished ceramic pieces to look.
Before you start trying any of these glazing techniques, do your research and follow instructions carefully. To get started, check out this incredible YouTube playlist from Jessica Putnam-Phillips with so much information about the glazing process and different techniques!
Dipping is the easiest way to cover pottery and is done by most at some point. This form of glazing will give the finished piece a smooth look and fine texture. You can either dip your piece into the glaze twice as a base layer before decorating, or, to achieve a more solid look, you can dip the piece more often to create a thicker layer.
Dripping or Pouring
Glaze dripping is usually associated with creating decorative detail on a piece, and glaze pouring is done by covering the whole piece with a solid color. By flowing the glaze over the piece that you plan on firing, you are working on the pouring glazing method. As you pour, the piece will absorb some of the glaze creating an even layer on the interior and exterior of the piece. With the style of dripping, you aren’t trying to cover the whole piece. Once you have a base layer of glaze, you can start to apply the dripping technique to your piece with a squeeze bottle to add decorations or other colors that wouldn’t have been there before.
This glazing technique can be used as both a base layer and for decorating. Picking the right brush size is important! Large flat brushes are great for larger pieces, and small, round-tip brushes are better for patterns or designs. You’ll want to have a good amount of glaze on your brush as you paint to avoid streaks in the glaze on your piece. You also want to take into consideration different brush stroke directions. For example, if you paint your first layer of glaze horizontally, you’ll want to paint vertically for the next layer and so on.
Spraying needs an air gun or spray gun in order to be done properly. A banding wheel is also needed to rotate the pottery while you’re spraying the glaze since you can’t move the gun around much. This glazing method is best for laying down a precise base layer that you typically can’t get with pouring, brushing or other methods. A fun way to work with this method is to spray different color layers!
If you’re looking for a fun and carefree way to apply your glaze, splattering is the option for you! Dip a stiff brush into your glaze and flick the brush onto your piece. The amount of splatters will be determined by how much glaze you apply to the bristles of your brush. For smaller splatters, apply a small amount of glaze to the brush; add more for larger effects. It might not look perfect and beautiful at first, but after firing it will give your piece wonderful texture and a look that is more abstract than a solid color glaze.
Stippling is done when shadow effects are needed or if you want your glaze to have the look of being painted on. To start, apply glaze to the tip of a soft brush and then paint your pottery however you want! It’s important to remember to only pick up a small amount of glaze each time you need more. If your brush is overloaded, it won’t give you the texture that you’re looking for as you paint.
Like stippling, sponging can benefit you if you’re looking to add texture to your piece. Sponges easily soak up your glaze so it's crucial that you work quickly if you’re going to use this method. They can be used to create various designs such as flowers, clouds and more since they can be cut into different shapes and sizes. There are also many sponge types for you to choose from to create textures as well. Fine-grained sponges help to create intricate patterns, and larger, firm sponges can cover bigger areas. Wet your sponge before applying glaze and also wash it after each use to extend its life.
Glaze trailing is drawing glaze-on-glaze or glaze-on-clay designs. Natural and abstract artwork can be done on ceramic pieces by using this method. To start, you need to have a slip trailer, which is a small squeezable bottle with an aperture tip. All you have to do is fill the tool with glaze and start creating the pattern that you want. Remember, glaze trailing lines rise as they are fired.
Wax Resist and Glazing
The main purpose of the wax resist technique is to repel glazes and underglazes, so if you apply wax resist to an area, the glaze won’t adhere to it. It’s similar to using wax Crayons when dying Easter eggs. After you apply wax resist to a piece, you can apply the glaze of your choice. Once the piece is dry, you can wipe it with a cloth or sponge to reveal the pattern that you previously created. This isn’t a forgiving method, so make sure that you know exactly where you want the wax resist to be and how you want it to look before applying.
Do you have questions about choosing the right firing methods or glazing techniques for your desired results? We’re here to help! Leave a comment below, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch with our team via social media. We’re on Facebook and Instagram!