Specialty Glazes, Using Surforms, and Glazing Tips | Big Ceramic Store


Today's newsletter contains a variety of tips. First I will point out some of the exciting glazes that are available, in case you want to try something new. Next are some tips on using a Surform, and finally some glazing tips.


Many people are not aware how many different specialty glazes have been created in the past few years. I would like to point out a few of my favorites.

Low Fire:

Want to simulate stoneware glazes in low fire? The Spectrum Low Stone and Amaco Stone Texture Glazes do just that. The Amaco Stone Texture glaze series flows a little in the firing, settling in the crevices and towards the bottom of a vertical surface. Therefore, when applied over a textured surface they will produce antique-like variations or a weathered and worn out look on the higher relief areas of the piece.

Prefer the look of granite? Try Duncan River Rock (shiny), or Stonewashed (Matt finish)

Crystals and Crackles are sure to dazzle. These glazes are one color, with small chips of other colors imbedded. Spread the small chips over your glaze, and you will get dazzling results. Duncan Crystaltone, Duncan Crystals, and Amaco Crystaltex all provide these results. Or, you can buy glaze crystals and add them to any color glaze.

Other favorites are Amaco Alligator which are variegated, Duncan Art and Courtyard Art which give different but interesting effects in each firing, and also a variety of crackle glazes.

Mid-Fire: Cone 5/6

The Amaco Sahara High Fire and Spectrum Stoneware lines of glazes contains a number of colors designated as "textured". These give variegated results, often a different color where thicker, or alternating glossy and matt areas. HF41 is a popular green that is darker where thicker, such as in carvings or at the bottom of a bowl. Other transparent glazes will give the same effect.

Laguna has added a new batch of colors which are satin finish, rather than a high gloss. These are MS125-MS134. They also have introduced a new line called "Mystic" glaxes. These radical glazes redefine 'break-up" at Cone 5. The mottled and shimmering colors create an exciting, almost "dancing effect" whether on functional or art ware. These are WC100-WC114. All the Laguna glazes come in pints and dry form.

Start your glaze browsing here


If you work in clay, I guarantee that once you try a Surform you will never give it up! I recently saw a whole 2 day workshop was being taught on using a surform.

Similar to a rasp, and Surform has many uses from texturing clay to forming and trimming. For example, if you try hand trimming slabs, or rounding off the sharp edges on the bottoms of pots, it is easy to accidentally cut too deep. In seconds you can ruin a piece. But with the Surform, you just lightly shave off a little at a time, until your piece has the perfect shape and size. If I had to keep only 6 tools, the Surform would be one of those.

View the Surform


Square containers: Many people mix glazes in 3.5 or 5 gallon buckets. But really, the shape is not great. How many times have you tried to glaze a piece that wouldn't fit inside the bucket? A much better idea is the rectangular plastic/rubber containers you buy at Target, Walmart, or any home improvement store. You can glaze larger pieces, and you have a wider opening to work in.

Pouring Glaze: You can also place sticks across your rectangular tubs, place your piece on the sticks, and pour glaze over the piece. This can be done with a bucket also of course, but works much better with the wider openings of the rectangular tubs. I often use a ladle to do the pouring, or a mug I don't like much!

(The only disadvantage I can see is that the Talisman sieves fit nicely over a 5 gallon bucket. So it is useful to use a bucket when sieving, then transfer the glaze to a tub.)

Fluorescent Light Grates: And something that works even better than sitting your piece on sticks is to go to the hardware store and buy the fluorescent light covers that look like grates (a grid of 1" squares.) These easily support your piece (it won't get bumped off the sticks), and still has plenty of holes for the glaze to run through.

Dipping Drips: I have found when dipping that you can get an irritating drip at the end, no matter how long you wait and try to shake off the piece. To solve this, simply blot that last glop of glaze lightly with a damp sponge before it dries.

Glazing on the Wheel: And here's another glazing tip I was grateful to learn! Center your piece on the potters wheel. Fill a squeeze container with glaze. This could be a bulb syringe (used for cleaning wax out of ears), or a plastic squeeze bottle such as catsup or mustard comes in. With a wide brush in one hand (wet first with glaze), and the squeeze bottle in the other hand, turn the wheel on low speed. Put your brush on the piece, and squeeze from the bottle onto (or just in front of) the bristles as you go. This keeps the brush full of glaze, and you don't have brush marks from stopping, reloading the brush, and starting again. Move the brush down the pot, back up again, etc, until you have the desired glaze thickness. Voila! It is fast too!

Hope you enjoyed our tips!

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