You’ve probably heard of oxides, but you're probably wondering how they are used.

Well you've come to the right place! Here are the top 10 ways to experiment with oxides.

  1. Brush oxides on greenware, bisque and/or glaze.
  2. Make some slip and add some oxides to create colors. To get more uniform colors mix well. To get more random, blotchy colors, don’t mix too well.
  3. Brush oxide wash over an unfired glaze, then fire. Be very careful when handling as you may smudge the oxide.
  4. Brush oxides on, then apply glaze. Best to dip or spray to avoid brushing the oxide off (and if dipping, best to put some glaze aside so oxide doesn’t contaminate your whole batch of glaze). Generally, the stronger the oxide wash, the more it will bleed through the glaze.
  5. Mix ball clay with your oxide/water. This gives a better consistency and tones down the color.
  6. Brush a couple different oxides on, overlapping in areas.
  7. Sgraffito. Brush on oxide. When dry, scratch with a sharp tool through the oxide to show the clay underneath. Cover with transparent or translucent glaze. Or do the same thing with oxide over unfired glaze.
  8. Spatter wax on the surface, and paint the oxide wash over that.
  9. Use other masking techniques, such as torn, wet newspaper, and paint an oxide wash over it.
  10. Sprinkle a variety of different oxides on a newspaper. Place leather-hard objects onto the oxide mixture (for example, a piece of tile). Or use a piece of Styrofoam or a sponge to pick up the oxide and transfer it to your piece. Keep the pattern as it lands, or smear it around. In this case if you’re once firing you can add glazes. Otherwise bisque and apply glazes; the oxides will still interact with the glazes when fired together.

Keep in mind, Oxides are strong colorants, so a little bit goes a long way. In a solution you will probably only want about 2-8% or you will end up with black.

Be sure to use a respirator or mask when handling the dry oxides and remember that using oxides like this will provide unpredictable, but sometimes beautiful results. Test and take notes!

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