Tips and Tools: DIY Glaze Fountain

Coating the interiors of multiple pieces with a liner glaze? Make quick work of it using a glaze fountain.

Glaze fountains are useful for applying liner glazes on the interior of wares no matter your firing style. After wanting a glaze fountain for a long time, but not being able to justify the cost of buying one, I made one instead. It took one day, cost $70, and used easily accessible parts.

I use a slip-casting process with colored porcelain slip to create patterns and textures on the exterior of my wares, and I glaze only the interior. Glazing hundreds of vessels using this glaze fountain has saved me countless hours of work.

Gathering Supplies

I went to a local waterfall supply company (who knew that’s a thing?) to ask about water pumps after the glaze fountain idea had been in mind for a while. After we tested flow pressures of the small pumps, I walked out with one that I would use as the main component of the fountain for a cost of $40.

The pump itself is a fixed 396-gallon-per-hour submersible water pump with a vertical output. I have not found the exact version that I purchased at the waterfall store online, but there are comparable pumps available from amazon.com, and some that can be set for variable pumping speeds.

The other components of my fountain are a foot-switch pedal, a
16-inch piece of PVC pipe, a five-gallon bucket, and a strip of aluminum flashing (14 inches×4 feet) used to make a cone-shaped splash guard that fits into the bucket. The foot-switch pedal is available on Amazon, and the other three items can found at any hardware store.

1 Main components of the glaze fountain, showing the water pump with PVC pipe attached and plugged into the foot-switch pedal.

2 Glaze fountain in use, applying liner glaze to the interior of a layered and carved pint cup.

Assembly

Water pumps are designed to run continuously when plugged in, which is the reason for the foot pedal on/off switch. The pump is plugged into the pedal, so that it will only run the fountain when you push the pedal. The diameter of the PVC pipe depends on the size of the pump output opening, so fit it at the hardware store after you have the pump. Make sure the pump you purchase has a vertical output, so the PVC pipe can be attached to create the vertical fountain.

Once set up and plugged in, the pump and PVC tube can be submerged in the bucket of glaze and pressed firmly into place, secured to the bottom by the built-in suction cups. Then fit the aluminum flashing splash guard into the bucket. My splash guard is taped into an open cone. While I used flashing that was already available in my studio, an alternative would be a plastic bowl with the bottom cut out that sits into the rim of the bucket and extends enough for a splash guard. The open shape of the cone or bowl directs excess glaze back into the bucket when in use.

3 Dark rainbow tumblers, 3 1/4 in. (8 cm) in diameter each, colored porcelain, 2018.

We are all set! With your pot held over the PVC tube, press the pedal to turn on the fountain, rotate the piece if needed to coat the entire interior of your pot, and viola, you have a quick way to apply interior glaze.

I make sure to clean the pump very well after a glazing session by submerging it in clean water and turning it on to run water through it before storage. I have been using my glaze fountain for the last year and a half, and it is still running strong!

the author Sean Forest Roberts is the owner of Forest Ceramic Company on Orcas Island, Washington. With a degree in chemistry, and mostly self-taught in ceramics, his studio experiments over the last six years have led to the current process he uses for creating marbled and carved designs in colored slip-cast porcelain. To learn more, visit www.forestceramic.com or find him on Instagram and Facebook @forestceramicco.

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