Tips for Layering Glazes


Coyote Shino (042) over Black (002) by Carol Kaleko

Want to try something new? Want to try something where you may have no idea how it will turn out? Want to try to get a beautiful, new and interesting result with some glazes you already own (but don't like that much by themselves)? If so, read on, because it's time to try layering some glazes!

Coyote has new photos showing layered Cone 6 Shino glazes. This example (on the right) is Shino (042) over Black (002). Click the picture to see more combinations.

AMACO also has some photos showing layering of some Potter's Choice glazes.

For example, this is Ancient Jasper over Deep Firebrick. Click the picture to see more combinations.

And Spectrum has something similar, with their layered bells. Check these out for inspiration.

Many people like the effects that layering makes. Often the top color will slide down the first, or the colors will intermix and get a variegated effect.

These are the most common questions we get about layering glazes.

  • No idea! When it comes to layering, you really have to test. Some combinations will be great looking, and some will not.

  • If two non-toxic glazes are involved, it is hard to imagine that the combination wouldn't also be non-toxic. Remember, a glaze being certified non-toxic really refers to the glaze in its liquid state. That means it doesn't have too much of certain chemicals (which are known to be dangerous and are tested for), so that it is safe, even to be ingested by kids. So if (for example) both glazes don't have lead or high amounts of copper, then obviously the combination will not either.

    However, when it comes to being dinnerware safe, the answer is trickier. Dinnerware producers are supposed to test their glazes for leaching to determine if they are food safe. Tip 53 Glaze Toxicity and Dinnerware Safety gave information on where and how to do that. When you buy a commercial glaze, the manufacturer has tested it, so they can state that it is dinnerware safe when fired per their instructions. When glazes are layered, they have no longer really have that "tested" status. I suspect that in most cases the layered glaze will also be safe, but it is possible for the combination to be unsafe. So, that is something to be aware of.

  • We recommended making test tiles. More information can be found in Tip 25 Glaze Tests and Test Tiles

So, if you've got a glaze you don't love, try it out in a layer. You never know, it might turn out to be your favorite!

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