Trying out new glazing techniques is always exciting because you don’t know quite where you’ll end up — even a mistake could hold a pleasant surprise! If you’d like to try something new, then one or all of these great glazing techniques may be just what you need. In Five Great Ceramic Glazing Techniques: From Crystals to Majolica (Maiolica), a Guide to Beautiful Glaze Surfaces, you’ll find five terrific articles to give you some new ideas in the studio.
These five glazing techniques are as varied as their origins. Majolica (also spelled maiolica) originates from the Mediterranean and is the techniques of applying color on top of a glaze; Lisa Bare Culp brings us up to date with contemporary commercial glazing techniques; and crystalline glazes originated in Europe and require specific glazes and firing conditions. Whether you’re looking for a fresh look or looking to see what you can do with a new glazing technique, you’ll find your answers in these four great approaches.
Here’s an excerpt:
Application Suggestions for Majolica (maiolica) Glazing
by Linda Arbuckle
Both the best and worst thing about majolica glaze is that it doesn’t move when you fire it. Having a decent base glaze coating goes a long way toward being happy with the final product. Additionally, large bumps and voids in the raw glaze will leave evidence of brush strokes on top of them and emphasize your glaze application issues.
Apply glaze in the thinnest coating that will give you opacity, and attempt an even glaze coat. Dampen pieces slightly before dipping to remove any dust and moisten the ware for better glaze pick up. Dipping is my mode of choice, although I do know potters who spray effectively. I want to have a container that will allow me to do one dip of the bisqueware. If I have a piece that will not fit in my glaze bucket, say a long, oval platter, I use a different container for dipping. Garden stores often carry metal or plastic 5-gallon oval tubs. Oil change pans can be useful. I have flexible plastic tubs from a garden store that are wider than my 5-gallon glaze buckets, and will allow me to flex the bucket for longer-than-wide shapes and to form a spout to pour my glaze back into the bucket. In a pinch, I have used cardboard boxes reinforced with duct tape or dresser drawers double-lined with heavy trash bags to hold glaze for dipping.
For errors in glazing (and there are bound to be some) 400-grit wet-dry sandpaper will sand down lumps, or they may be gently scraped down with a sharp knife. When sanding or shaving glaze, do it over a container of water to trap the dust and prevent it from circulating in your studio environment.
Clay Body, Off-Gassing, and Firing Rates
I am still experimenting with firing rates. Several years ago something in clay materials changed and caused gassing in my clay, resulting in many white gas dots in the fired majolica surface, where the base glaze might seal over, but the colorant layer is so thin that it can’t seal and leaves a white spot. Many people maintain that firing slowly is the way to go, and it seems logical that any gas release would be more gentle the slower the firing. On the other hand, I fire many pieces in a small, oval, doll-body test kiln, which cools quickly, and these generally turn out less dotted. The same shapes fired about 200°F per hour in my regular kiln may be more dotted. It’s been an infuriating problem that I continue to research. If you have dotting, try bisque firing as high as you can without making the work too dense to accept glaze. This may drive off gassy materials before glaze application and firing. Bisque at a slower rate, vent your kiln, and glaze thinner if possible. Thinner glaze is less likely to trap the gas bubbles and cause dotting.
|Advantages and Disadvantages of Majolica-type Glazes|
|The viscous glaze does not move when fired. The brushwork stays crisp, with no runny glaze to chip off shelves. Dry-footed areas
need less margin on pot bottoms or lid seats.
|The viscous glaze does not move when fired, which means any lumps, drips,
or pinholes from application remain and do not heal over or smooth out
in firing. Thick glaze may crawl.
|Because the raw glaze absorbs the color from the brush readily and does not move in the firing, the direction of brush marks, speed of the
brush, and loading of the brush show in the fired decoration, adding painterly, expressive qualities to the marks.
|Because the raw glaze absorbs the color from the brush readily and does not
move in firing, direction of brush marks, speed of the brush, andloading of the brush show in the fired decoration, and may reveal hesitancies, touch-ups, and direction of background when painting around
motifs, etc., which may distract from the aesthetic impact.
|Thick glaze blankets the piece, which may forgive small handling errors like finger smudges in the surface.||Thick glaze blankets the piece, which may cover small details in clay handling. like carving or incised decoration.|
|The kiln is a passive tool, resulting in more predictable results from firing to firing. Someone else could fire your work and achieve the same results (easier to share kilns).||The kiln is a passive tool, resulting in uniform color that may look flat
or does not describe the form. There are no gifts from the kiln gods.
|A bright palette of commercial stains gives easy access to a range of pinks, oranges, yellows, and purples that work well
with the blue, green, and rust that are available with oxides.
|The bright color may look garish, or the entire palette may look too pastel and therefore lose impact.|
|Inexpensive color, because it takes less colorant to put a thin wash on the glaze surface than to color a slip or a glaze.|
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Five Great Ceramic Glazing Techniques: From Crystals to Majolica (Maiolica), a Guide to Beautiful Glaze Surfaces includes the following
Majolica (or maiolica) is a white, opaque, glossy glaze that is very viscous to the point that it doesn’t move during firing. This allows the line quality and bright colors applied to the raw glaze surface to be maintained faithfully through the firing. Arbuckle is the authority when it comes to this glazing technique, and she will help you through both the technical aspects as well as the creative approach necessary to gain success with your work.
by Emily Donahoe
Sarah Jaeger is a fan of color. Here, we share her glazing process and a few of her glaze recipes. It all begins with the pot itself. Making a form that gives you glaze design ideas can jumpstart your creative process. Then comes the surface: from planning a design on the glazed surface of a pot to applying slip trailing designs, wax resist, and washes of color, Jaeger brings it all together in a joyful result.
If you’re looking for some different glaze techniques, here are three glaze projects you can try out. Lisa Bare Culp learned a lot from her experiments with sgraffito, layering, mixing slip with stoneware glazes and multiple firings. She uses commercial pottery glazes as an artistic tool that she shares with students, and here she demonstrates a pouring technique, a carving technique and a layering technique.
by William Schran
Crystalline glazes are among the most admired in ceramics. The fact that these crystals “grow” in the kiln seems a bit of a mystery to most, but to William Schran it was a mystery he had to figure out. Once achievable only at high-fire temperatures, Bill demonstrates how you can get elegant crystals at cone 6 using a programmable or manual electric kiln. He includes his recipes and his firing programs so you’ll achieve success.
by Sam Scott
Sam Scott was experimenting with glazing and brushwork techniques, when he discovered that if he poured glazes over select areas, he could get some cool patterns. He developed a black glaze to contrast with the white porcelain he was using and he knew he was on to something. Here he shares his poured glazing technique.
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