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Published Mar 6, 2023

Since glazing is the least enjoyable part of the ceramic process for me, I am always happy to hear new tips on glazing pottery. And I thought this tip from Madeleine Coomey (one of the wonderful moderators of the Ceramic Arts Network Community Forum) was particularly brilliant! 

In this excerpt from the March 2023 issue of Ceramics Monthly, Madeleine explains how to use neodymium magnets when glazing work to avoid fingerprints and glaze drips. –Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor

To avoid annoying glaze drips and tong marks on the outside of pots, I use neodymium magnets to hold pots while dipping them in glazes. This involves using two sets of magnets: one set inside the pot and the other outside. Both flat disk and fishing magnets are useful. 

To begin, wrap a disk magnet in plastic and secure it with a twist tie to form a handle (1). This will be used inside the pot. The outside magnet can either be a fishing magnet or a disk magnet with a flat head bolt for a handle (2). (The bolt is held on with the magnetism, no need to glue it on.)

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Line the inside of the vessel with glaze. Once it is no longer wet, place the wrapped magnet inside the pot, centered at the bottom. With fragile raw glazes, drop a scrap of paper inside the pot first to prevent scraping away the liner in this area (3).

Next, place the outside magnet in line with the inner magnet,  grasp the pot, and turn it upside down (4). Now push the pot straight down into the glaze. To avoid a glaze burp inside the pot while withdrawing it, tip the pot very slightly to release the air. An alternate method is to wax the upper area of the liner glaze. The dipped glaze should be dry enough in under a minute to remove the magnets.

3 4

The number of magnets needed is determined by the weight of the pot and the thickness of the base. For an example, my disk magnets have a pull force of 22 pounds, and I use three magnets for a mug that has a bisque weight of 13 ounces. Stronger fishing magnets are useful for larger and heavier pots. There is a balance between firmly holding the pot and magnets being too strong to remove.

Neodymium magnets are extremely fragile and strong; they must be kept away from children, people with pacemakers, and electronics. Be careful not to pinch your fingers between the magnets and always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when using these products.