The Big Glazing Day.



It’s now time to get all my clay tumours glazed and coloured. Easter break is over and there’s 2 weeks until our work has to be finished, and 4 weeks until the 6th of May. Prior to this moment I had tested all my colours and made sure I have got them just how I want them, so there’s nothing left to do now other than get my tumours glazed.

I got down to the glazing studio nice and early on the Tuesday and found my space (which I consequently spent the next 4 days living in). With my objects, they all have individual details that I wish to be glazed a different colour to the main colour of the body of my object. I have been working closely with Matt these days as well, just making sure i’m getting thing correct and trying not to panic too much.

There’s two ways to protect clay from getting glazed; wax or latex resist. Wax resist is used to keep areas from getting any glazing on them, and the only way to remove wax glazing is to burn it off in the kiln. This resist is good and mostly used for the underneath of a piece of work to keep the glaze from coming into contact with the surface of the kiln shelf, as this can ruin the shelves. However, latex resist, is used for much more intricate purposes. With all 6 of my ceramic tumours, they have individual details therefore the latex resist is the best suited for my works.

The first process of the day was to first of all dust off my pieces using the air gun, and then apply the latex. The above photo’s are the first 3 of my pieces with the latex applied. As you can see on the detailed areas of my pieces, they are darker in colour compared to the rest of the surface. The latex was easy to apply, dried fast and didn’t need many layers. However the smell wasn’t something to be desired.

I have booked myself in for TWO of the Toploader kilns. As I have 6 pieces, all 6 will not fit in one kiln. Another thing, is that 2 of pieces are in Bisque firing until Thursday morning, therefore I wont be able to glaze them until they are out. So my plan for this week is as follows:

  • Tuesday: Apply glaze to THREE clay pieces.
  • Wednesday: Finish off applying glaze and load first kiln and set it to turn on at midnight. Begin to glaze next clay piece.
  • Thursday: Watch kiln 1 throughout the day and turn off when finished. Glaze other THREE clay pieces. Load second kiln, set to turn on at midnight.
  • Friday: Unload first kiln and (hopefully) be happy with results. Watch second kiln throughout the day and turn off when finished.
  • Saturday: Go into uni to unload second kiln, and pray for good results.



Applying the latex was quite a long job, but once this task was out the way I could begin to glaze my objects. To apply the base glaze, which will be giving me the main colour for the body of the object, I used the spray booths. I chose to use this method of glazing as it is efficient in achieving an even spread glaze. The areas that have latex applied will not be affected by this application of glaze.



When applying the glaze, the extractor fan must be switched on, also the chemical wash which is a water system which catches all of the excess glaze coming from the gub, and washes it away. A mask must be worn during this process. Using props to hold the piece up, it must be placed in the center of the wheel. Play around with the gun and find a spray mode that is most suited to the effect you want to achieve. Before pouring your glaze into the gun, make sure it has been cleaned out correctly by the previous user in order to avoid spraying a different glaze on your work and effecting the final outcome by contamination. This is done by putting the gun in a bucket of water and spraying so that the water flows through the inside of the gun (remember to use your finger to cover the hole in the gun!).

Once all that is done and checked correctly, glazing can begin! Before doing so, colour schemes needed to be decided.As I am mostly sticking to 3 colours, and 6 pieces, I would like to be conscious of how these colours are used; equally spread across all pieces and used in the most effective way. Below are the colour schemes for each clay piece. The colour that follows the image of the piece will be the base colour, then followed by the final image which will be the colour of the detailed areas.


These are the colours schemes that I have decided on. I decided to have 3 main body glazes using the yellows, and 3 using the variations of blues and greens. The detailed areas will then be glazed with the opposite colour in order for them to stand out. The first 3 of the colour scheme list above, are the first 3 to be going in the kilns.

When it came to actually glazing my objects, I wasn’t surprised at how long and tiring the days were. Due to having to apply the latex first, this meant that it made the process quite a lot longer than usual. Then came the spray booth. This is the quickest part of the glazing process. When spraying, it’s usually best to make sure at least 3-4 layers of glaze is equally applied over each object. When spraying the gun, the other hand is used to spin the table as you spray, ensuring the even coating(and also keeping track of where you have previously sprayed of course!). Leave each layer of glaze to dry for about 40-60 seconds before applying another layer. Once this part was complete, clean up that spray booth ready for the next person and return back to the desk in order to begin applying glaze to the detail areas. Now this was the tricky part. After the last layer of the spray glaze had dried, I began to use a sharp tool with its end as thin as a pin to pick off the latex. With the detailed areas, I had to use a small brush to apply the glaze. Much like the spray glaze technique, you have to make sure you apply a good few layers of the glaze. This gets a little tricky here as when going to paint the detailed areas, such as the balls on a few of my works, you have to remember where you have already been.. if in doubt, just add some anyway!! I didn’t have too much trouble with this part of the process, mostly just being extremely cautious when applying the glaze, being sure not to get any onto the base glaze. The lucky thing with glazing is that it is all water based, so god forbid anything terrible were to happen or if I wanted to remove something I had glaze, I can simply wipe it off with a wet sponge. In some cases where I had gotten just a small drop of the other glaze onto the base, I would just use the sharp tool to scratch it off the surface, as it turns to powder once it has dried. Once all of the tumours are glazed, its extremely hard to imagine how these pieces are going to come out once they are fired, as the glaze dries a completely different colour. These are my pieces once I had applied the glazes:



The colours here are rather pasty and neutral, however when they are taken out of the kiln then will be completely different colours. So the next step now is to wait for the kilns to finish and pray that everything comes out okay.

I found this process rather tiring and exhausting. This process required a lot of detail and concentration, and my body definitely felt the brunt after this week, however I definitely feel this process was the best for the work I am creating, and the effect that I am wanting my work to have. In a tutorial with Amelia we spoke of the different ways to colour my final pieces (gently reminding myself that I am an illustrator not a ceramicist), however I have truly thought that glazing was the best way to colour my pieces from the get-go with this clay work. This is due to value- when there are items around the house that are glazed, there is a certain face value that comes with that. It makes them delicate and they are usually handled with comfort and care. There is a risk of smashing glazed pottery and to prevent this from happening, certain precautions are taken such a picking up an item gently, moving slowly, and being cautious not to drop or bash the item, and this is exactly how I wanted my clay tumours to be treated.


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