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Underglazes are basically clay-based materials with ceramic stains and metallic oxides added to create a full spectrum of color in your work. They’re the fastest, easiest, and most dependable way for you to add pizzazz to your pottery or sculptures for just an accent or an entire surface treatment. Like many other art materials, underglazes come in a wide variety of forms—liquid, dry, chalks, pens, and pencils—so no matter what your background, a ceramic surface awaits your colorful treatment.
Here's an excerpt from the Underglaze Users Guide: How to Use Ceramic Underglazes to Add Color and Graphic Interest in Your Pottery Projects:
9 Artists Using Colorful Underglazes
by David L. Gamble
Commercial underglazes are basically clay slips containing colorants, and they’re a great way to add color to your work using a variety of application methods. And since they’re formulated to have low drying shrinkage, they can be applied to bone-dry greenware or to bisque-fired surfaces. In addition to being able to change the surface color of your clay body, underglazes can also be used to change the texture of the body.
When used to add color to surfaces, underglazes have an advantage in that they are composed mostly of clay with very little flux, so they’ll stay put and won’t run, which makes them ideal for detailed decoration. While most underglazes were originally formulated for use at low-fire temperatures, most, maintain their color in the mid-range and some even as high as cone 9 or 10.
Underglazes can be applied by brushing, pouring, dipping, and spraying—anything goes. Each application method has different requirements. If an underglaze is too thick for spraying or using as a wash, just add water to thin it down. If it’s too thin for silk screening or monoprinting, leave the container exposed to air to evaporate some of the liquid.
Underglazes work best with a clear overglaze, although other glazes of varying opacity and color may also be used. I’ve had success with whites and very light-colored glazes, but darker glazes seem to muddy or absorb the color of the underglaze. The overglaze can be anywhere from matt to glossy. You’ll find the clear deepens the value of the colors regardless of application method. If you’re sealing the surface of work that will come in contact with food, be sure to use a food-safe clear glaze that matches your underglaze’s and clay body’s firing range.
Applying an overglaze can be tricky. If you’ve applied underglazes on bisque, you’ll find that they’ll smear when brushing on a clear over- glaze because wet glaze moistens the underglaze. Use a fan brush and float the first coat on without going over the same area twice. Wait for the first coat to dry completely before brushing on a second coat.
I’ve recently used underglazes to create a watercolor effect by thinning them down and painting them onto a semi-white glaze that is layered over another colored glaze underneath. The colored glaze (sometimes gloss, sometimes matt) melts through the white and gives it a richer off-white look. The clay body is a red terra cotta that can handle a number of multiple firings if needed. I’ve been creating pieces from my travel sketches to permanently document places I’ve traveled to in a sketchbook-like manner.
To read the rest of this article and the articles below, download your free copy of the Underglaze Users Guide: How to Use Ceramic Underglazes to Add Color and Graphic Interest in Your Pottery Projects.
Underglaze Users Guide: How to Use Ceramic Underglazes to Add Color and Graphic Interest in Your Pottery Projects also includes the following great stuff:
by Rachel Donner
The key to making good sets is to make them work well together both visually and functionally. With careful planning, carrying motifs throughout an entire set can really separate the good from the bad. In this article, Rachel Donner shows how to use colorful underglazes, stencils, and mishima to make a cup and saucer set go together like a happy marriage.
Whether you want to make your own underglazes or use commercially prepared underglazes, this article will provide a valuable understanding of what underglazes are made of and how they behave. Regardless of which way you want to go with underglazes, knowing how they are made will help you know how to use them more effectively—and that means better chances for success in the studio.
Laura Kukkee: Using Underglazes for Slip Trailing and Applique Techniques
by Anderson Turner
There is no shortage of application techniques using ceramic underglazes. Laura Kukkee creates her decoration with underglazes on newspaper then transfers it to a freshly rolled clay slab. She also builds up layers of differenct colored slips and underglaze decoration on newsprint to create a very thin slab. Then she cuts the slab into pieces and uses an applique technique to apply the decorated pieces to pots. She also demonstrates silk screened and inlaid applique.
by Courtney Murphy
Despite what the name implies, Courtney Murphy discovered that underglazes don't just have to go under a glaze. After running extensive tests, she figured out that some of her underglazes worked in an overglaze technique similar to majolica. In this article she shares her process from beginning to end.
About Ceramic Arts Daily:
Ceramic Arts Daily is a free online website and newsletter written and produced for the benefit of potters and ceramic artists worldwide. The newsletter features both renowned and emerging artists, their work, techniques and artistic perspectives. Regular features include tips and techniques designed to help every artist expand their skill set and widen their artistic horizons. Ceramic Arts Daily also delivers video tips, in which potters and ceramic artists demonstrate various projects and processes. Think of them as e-workshops!
Ceramic Arts Daily is designed to be interactive, inviting your comments and fostering a community in which each person can contribute to the growth of their own and others' skills. You may be surprised at what you learn!
Ceramic artists on Ceramic Arts Daily know what ceramic art is all about - from functional pottery to abstract ceramic sculpture. This is about community. You'll be drawn in by artists' stories, inspired by their work and find confidence to try some of their techniques. With Ceramic Arts Daily, you'll learn a little bit of everything. Then you can choose the techniques you enjoy the most to create something new!
So start today by downloading our free Underglaze Users Guide: How to Use Underglazes, Slip Trailers, Ceramic Pens, and Underglaze Pencils. Then, get ready for Ceramic Arts Daily to introduce you to new artists and show you new techniques!