A Collection of Tips | Big Ceramic Store


  1. Have you ever tried fluting a piece (carving straight lines into the sides), only to find your lines are crooked or uneven? Make a triangle out of a piece of cardboard, or use a plastic triangle used for geometry (buy in an office supply store or drugstore). Hold the bottom of the triangle against the work surface. For straight lines, brace your carving tool against the straight edge. For angled lines, run your carving tool along the angled edge. This will make sure the lines are all at the same angle.

  2. For an interesting look with a sprayer: drip wax resist on a piece and let it run down the sides. Spray the piece and fire. When the wax burns away there will be a pattern where the wax ran.

  3. To make large perfectly round shapes, use lids from an old set of cook ware. Coat the edges with oil first to keep them from sticking to the clay.

  4. For an interesting effect in an electric kiln, add between 3% and 10% rutile to any glaze. Your glaze will often get a nice mottled texture which is similar to reduction glazes. Rutile can also affect the colors in an interesting way. We also sell a product called a texturizer which contains rutile and can be brushed on to specific areas, over or under your glaze. By painting designs on with this, you will get a very subtle effect where the texture changes. Look under "additives".

  5. To make stamps for applying underglazes, cut a pattern out of an old mouse pad. Glue it onto a block of wood or wood dowel if desired. Coat the foam side with underglaze and stamp away.

  6. Another use for a mouse pad is to protect the rim of a piece when you turn it upside down to trim, attach feet, etc. Resting a piece on its rim can weaken it. Even if you don't notice a crack, one might occur during firing.

  7. Cut pieces out of adhesive backed shelf paper and use them for resist. They will stick to greenware and bisque. Using an exacto knife you can cut out lines, shapes, and intricate patterns.

  8. When pulling handles and making lids, it is often useful to make more than one of each. Then you can choose the ones that match your pot the best.

  9. Lining your ware shelves with newspaper is an easy way to keep the shelves from getting stained, and also keeps the pieces free of leftover clay particles. This is especially useful if you alternate between red and white clay.

  10. Use a spoon to burnish the bottoms of pieces when they are leather hard. The surface will be nice and smooth. You can also burnish foot rings after trimming in the same way, for a nice smooth finish. You can do the burnishing by hand, or while the piece is still on the wheel after trimming.