Glazing large work requires some special techniques. For work that’s larger than any bucket you may have, there are still several ways to get an even coat of glaze. These techniques can require more than one person, so don’t be afraid to ask a friend for help.
To glaze the interior of a large vertical piece, pour several pitchers of glaze into the inside of the piece. Station an assistant next to the work with a large container to catch the excess glaze as you pour it out. Quickly, but smoothly, pick up the piece and begin to rotate it to coat the entire interior of the vessel. As you’re turning it, invert it to the point where it begins to pour out the neck. Try to make two full revolutions to coat the entire interior, then pour out all the excess glaze. The water in the glaze will begin to permeate the entire piece from the inside, so you may see discoloration from the outside. For this reason, wait until the next day, when the water has evaporated out of the bisque, to glaze the exterior of the piece. Otherwise, the saturated bisque will absorb insufficient glaze, yielding an unintended and often unsatisfactory result.
1–3 For very large work, you’ll either need to spray or pour your glaze.
Once the interior glaze has dried, place the large piece on a banding wheel sitting inside a large plastic serving bowl. Place it either right-side up or inverted, depending on the degree of a glaze’s runniness. Inverted will work better for runny glazes, as more glaze will build up at the top of the pieces. Excessive runny glaze at the bottom of a large piece risks its loss as it’s much easier for the glaze to flow off of the piece and fuse it to the kiln shelf below. If the lip of the piece is narrower than the width of the banding wheel, you may want to place the piece on two equally thick pieces of wood so that the glaze can flow off the lip of the piece without building up too much. If pouring, spin the banding wheel slowly, pouring glaze from the top of the piece while it spins (1, 2). The glaze will run down the side of the pot and flow into the plastic bowl. Let the banding wheel make two full revolutions before pouring the glaze lower down on the piece. Continue pouring glaze down the piece until the entire exterior is coated (3). Wait until the piece has dried before removing it from the banding wheel.
While pouring glaze over large work is the quickest way to cover the surface with glaze, you can also spray the surface, or use brushes. Dipping is possible, but requires several people, containers the size of a bathtub or larger, and massive (100,000-gram) batches of glaze.
4–6 If you want to dip larger pieces, make sure you have a large enough container for glaze and have a clear plan for how you will execute the dip.
Large horizontal pieces, such as platters or wide-rimmed bowls, present a different set of challenges. The inside of the piece is generally the focus with low, wide forms, and they are rarely amenable to the pouring technique described above: too much glaze will pool up in the interior of the piece, causing bubbling in the glaze when fired. Although you will need a large batch of glaze to fill it, a large plastic serving bowl or kiddie pool filled with glaze can make for straightforward, easy dipping. Make sure to utilize the first-side-in, first-side-out method to ensure an even coat (4–6). You may also choose to brush or spray glaze onto large horizontal forms.
This article has been excerpted from the January/February 2019 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated.
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