Glazing Techniques in Ceramics


Glazing is the finishing touch in creating beautiful pottery. Picking the right technique ensures a pretty product. There are three basic ways to glaze finished bisque-fired pottery.


Under-glaze is a low-fire glaze that can be painted underneath a coating of transparent glaze. Under-glazes are more permanent and adhere to the clay and the transparent coating. Under-glazes may need to be thinned with water to get a smooth painting consistency, and colors may be mixed to create other shades and colors. Using under-glazes on bisque-fired clay is just like painting with watercolors or oils on a canvas. Thin under-glazes to a consistency for painting onto your pottery item. Using a pencil, sketch your design onto bisque-fired clay. Paint the design with brushes. Areas left without paint will be the color of the clay when finished. If you don't like the look of the under-glaze paint, you can wash it off with water. When you are finished painting, apply a coat of transparent glaze by brush, sponge or by dipping dry pottery. When the pottery is dry, it is ready to be fired.


Dipping bisque-fired pottery is the easiest way to apply glaze. The objects can be dipped into glaze, creating a smooth finished glaze. Be sure to use a bucket that can accommodate the entire pottery piece so it gets coated evenly. Fill a bucket with the glaze you want. Make sure bisque ware is free of any bits of dust by brushing it with a damp cloth. Use tongs positioned as close to the top of the pottery piece as possible and dip the entire piece of pottery into the glaze. Press the pottery straight down into the glaze. This may cause splashing. Hold it in the glaze for 3 seconds. Remove it and allow excess glaze to drip off. Reposition the tongs so they are as close to the bottom of the pottery piece as possible. Dip the pottery into the glaze again, but the opposite way, especially if you're glazing a rounded object such as a bowl or mug. For example, if the piece was pushed bottom down for the first dunking, position it so it is open-face down. Remove the pottery from the glaze and let excess glaze drip off. When the pottery is dry, it is ready to be fired.


Brush glazing is a good option to add detail to a ceramic piece. Brush glazing is also used if there isn't enough glaze for dipping. Select the color of glaze desired and use a soft-bristled brush to apply a thin coat of glaze with even strokes. If you want to create areas of color or detail, apply paint in sections or paint on a design. Black outlines can be added to define areas if desired. Apply three coats of glaze to ensure solid, even glaze color. When you've finished painting, the pottery is ready to fire.

Keywords: Pottery and Ceramics, Glazing, Techniques

About this Author

Sarah Lipoff has been writing since 2008. She has been published through BabyZone, Parents, Funderstanding and Lipoff has worked as a K-12 art teacher, museum educator and preschool teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Science in K-12 art education from St. Cloud State University.

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