Sunday, June 14, 2009

12 Basics for Better Glazing

Glazing is such a critical part of the whole ceramic process, but all too often it's the part where potters lose steam.

We have agonized at; wedging, centering, pulling, cutting, trimming, smoothing, waiting, firing, and finally are ready to finish it off with a glaze. I see a lot of people in the studio not leaving enough time to do it right, take the time. Glazing like throwing has a definite technique - and then it has room for interpretation and creativity. Nothing worse than turning over a pot and seeing a sloppy glaze job.

It always takes longer to glaze that you plan. Here are some very basic tips to help make your final journey easier and hopefully make for better glaze jobs:
  1. Unless you are glazing something to fit into an existing palate of colors you have already used, take time to decide what to go with. Look at other people's work, ask teachers
  2. Before you glaze - inspect your pot- checking for any burrs or edges that need smoothing. Use one of the sanding tools for a light touch up. It's much easier to it now than when they are fired with glaze.
  3. Remove any dust- a damp clean sponge does the job. If you "wash" the pot, you must allow a long time for it to fully dry, as glaze will not adhere to the pot very well.
  4. If you are a waxer - apply resist and select the right brush to do so. The wrong brush can cover more than you want.
  5. Select your glazes carefully. Does it run? Is it Matt or glossy, is there a test piece I can look at? Ask a teacher, we have experience and want to share it.
  6. Check your glaze to see if it needs better mixing or needs to be sent through the sieve. Nothing worse than dipping a pot only to find out that the glaze has chunks, and it's now all over your pot.
  7. Take the time to pour the glaze into a bowl or container that will allow you to glaze your piece easily.
  8. Things take longer to dry before you can second dip. Be patient! You will not only ruin your piece if its still wet before the next dip, but you will contaminate the glaze for others.
  9. When cleaning the bottoms, use a sponge that has been rinsed in cold water if you have used a wax resist. A very hot sponge will spread the wax, and you can end up wiping it elsewhere.
  10. Clean up the area, wash your tongs, brushes and bowls.
  11. The phrase I hear often is "Oh, I thought I would remember what colors I used..." Write it down in a notebook - A over B, 2x dip, light dip, painted on etc. Be descriptive about what you did. If you love it , you will want to replicate it.
  12. Lastly, leave a note for an instructor if there are any uncertainties or concerns about the piece.
I ran into the studio Sunday afternoon to glaze with my ten year old (budding clay maven). She has decided to move up to hi fire clay vs. the kids stuff. She wanted to learn how to use the glazes in buckets and dip her pots. That's what prompted me to blog this:)

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