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How to Choose and Apply Glazes for Pottery

Glazes are glassy coatings that add color, texture, and protection to pottery. They can also enhance the shape and design of the ceramic piece. Glazes are applied to pottery after it has been bisque fired, which means it has been heated to a low temperature to remove moisture and harden the clay. There are different types of glazes for pottery, depending on the firing temperature, the clay body, and the desired effect.

Types of Glazes for Pottery

Glazes are classified by their firing temperature range, which is measured by pyrometric cones. These are small cones made of ceramic material that bend when they reach a certain temperature. The most common firing ranges for pottery glazes are low-fire (cone 05-06), mid-range (cone 5-6), and high-fire (cone 10).

Low-fire glazes are suitable for earthenware clay, which is porous and low in vitrification (the process of becoming glass-like). Low-fire glazes are easy to apply and come in a wide variety of colors and finishes. However, they are less durable and more prone to crazing (fine cracks in the glaze) than higher-fired glazes.

Mid-range glazes are suitable for stoneware clay, which is denser and more vitrified than earthenware. Mid-range glazes are more durable and resistant to crazing than low-fire glazes. They also offer a range of colors and effects, such as matte, glossy, translucent, opaque, crystalline, and speckled.

High-fire glazes are suitable for porcelain clay, which is the most vitrified and non-porous clay. High-fire glazes are the most durable and stable of all glazes. They tend to have more subtle and natural colors and textures, such as celadon, tenmoku, shino, and ash.

How to Apply Glazes for Pottery

There are different methods of applying glazes for pottery, depending on the type of glaze, the shape and size of the piece, and the desired effect. Some of the most common methods are:

Dipping: This involves dipping the piece into a bucket or container of liquid glaze. This method is fast and easy, but it requires a lot of glaze and can result in uneven thickness or drips.

Brushing: This involves using a brush to apply the glaze on the piece. This method allows more control and precision, but it can be time-consuming and leave brush marks.

Pouring: This involves pouring the glaze over the piece or into a hollow piece. This method is good for covering large areas or creating interesting patterns, but it can be messy and wasteful.

Spraying: This involves using a spray gun or an airbrush to spray the glaze on the piece. This method is good for creating smooth and even coats or gradients of color, but it requires special equipment and ventilation.

No matter what method you choose, you should always follow these steps:

Wear gloves, goggles, mask, and apron to protect yourself from dust and chemicals.

Clean your piece with a damp sponge or cloth to remove any dust or dirt.

Stir or shake your glaze well before using it.

Apply a thin coat of wax resist or liquid latex to any areas that you don't want to be glazed, such as the bottom or the rim.

Apply your glaze according to your chosen method. Make sure to cover all areas evenly and avoid overlapping or pooling.

Let your piece dry completely before firing it in a kiln according to the instructions on your glaze label. ec8f644aee


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