Easy tips on how to glaze clay

July 29, 2015

A glaze can make or break your clay pottery. These tips will help you with achieve glazing success for beautiful finishes.

Easy tips on how to glaze clay

Glaze basics

Glaze is a glass-like coating that is melted onto a piece of clay during firing. The glaze material is bought as a powder which is mixed with water. It is used to seal the surface of the clay as well as being a decorating tool, the use of which is limited only by your imagination.

Glaze types

  • Glazes may be shiny, satin, matte or dry. They may give a smooth surface or they may add texture to the piece.
  • For your first efforts, use commercially prepared glazes as they generally give predictable results.
  • Use a dust mask and gloves when handling glazes and do not eat or drink while preparing or applying them.
  • When mixing up a powder glaze, add water to a bucket before adding the powder.
  • Leave the powder to slake down and then stir it to reduce any dust.
  • When the glaze and water are mixed thoroughly to the consistency of runny cream, pour the mixture through a fine sieve or a piece of muslin.
  • Store glazes in airtight containers and they will last indefi­nitely. Before using a glaze, always stir it well.

How to apply a glaze

How you apply a glaze is very important for achieving a beautiful finish for your pottery. These steps will help you get a perfect glaze.

  • Before glazing, make sure the surface of the pot is clean — use a lightly dampened sponge to wipe off any dust and grease.
  • Do not allow any glaze onto the underside of your pot — if the glaze gets on the underside it will "fix" and stick to the kiln shelf during firing. Even a few tiny spots of glaze on the base can cause problems, so before glazing prepare the base by painting it with a cold wax solution. this is available at pottery suppliers.
  • Let this coating dry completely before dipping the pot into the glaze. Mix up a glaze in a bucket and dip your pot into it; you may choose to submerge all of the pot or just dip part of it.
  • The thickness of the coating of glaze depends on the thickness of the mixture and the time you leave the pot submerged.
  • It is useful to make notes of glaze timings for future reference. When glazing is complete, make sure that the base of the pot is clean by sponging off any traces of the glaze finish.
  • If you have not applied wax before glazing, wipe the glaze from the base with a sponge so that the clay surface is clean.
  • Your pot is now ready for firing!

Easy glazing

Getting a great glaze for your clay pottery is tricky but you can achieve it if you follow the right process. These tips will give you the right techniques for finishing success.

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