Tips for Stocking A Ceramic Glaze Pantry

 Helpful Tips for Building Your Glaze Pantry

glaze pantry

Commercial glazes are awesome and super reliable, but I also like to include glazes that I mix on my own in my work. If you feel the same but don’t know what materials you should purchase to have a well-rounded glaze pantry, today’s post is for you! In this excerpt from her book Off the Shelf: Outside the Box, Deanna Ranlett shares her advice for stocking up on raw materials, along with a pretty handy materials chart showing how common glaze materials are used at various firing temperatures. – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.


Much like cooking, there are staples to any great glaze pantry. Having a stockpile of materials on hand opens your options to hundreds of recipes you’ll be able to mix in minutes.

Ceramic Raw Materials

Learn the fundamentals of clay and glaze materials when you download this freebieCeramic Raw Materials.



 A Good Foundation

It’s important to start your glaze pantry with a good foundation of commonly used glaze ingredients. There are specific lists for each range of firing temperatures: low fire (cone 08–02), mid fire (cone 4–6), and high fire (cone 8–10). Many ingredients are shared between the ranges, but some, like frits, you will use in a higher percentage at lower temperature ranges. Others, like stains, need to be tested at mid- and high-fire temperatures before stocking up on them as potential colorants.


Think outside the box with commercial products!
There was a time when using commercial glazes, underglazes, and clays was frowned upon in the clay community. It was somehow cheating; the stuff of “Paint Your Own Pottery” shops. But not anymore! In our book, Off the Shelf | Outside the Box, Deanna Ranlett explores the nuances of commercial clays, glazes, underglazes, and more, as well as the variety of results that can be achieved with these products. If you are interested in these versatile, convenient and easy-to use products, this book is the perfect place to get started!

While it’s hard to recommend material quantities without knowing what batch sizes you’ll be mixing, I usually give the following guidelines:

Test Mixing:

If you’re mixing test batches, start with 5–10 pounds of the basics (feldspars, frits, kaolin, silica), ¼-pound bags of colorants, opacifiers, and stains, and maybe 1–2 pounds of rare ingredients. Planning ahead and buying in bulk may save you money in the long run.
glaze pantry

Large Batching:

If you’re mixing larger batches (5-gallon buckets), start with 50-pound bags of the basics, 5 pounds of Zircopax, ½–1 pound of oxides and common stains, and 5–10 pounds of less common ingredients. I’d recommend using a spreadsheet (see pdf attachment) or glaze calculation software to keep track of ingredients, amounts, and pricing.

Shopping List

Use this shopping list to help you get started at your local clay supplier. The list includes the essential materials you’ll want to start a glaze pantry and labels them as “common.” Those that are less needed but occasionally called for in recipes are noted as well followed by “occasional” or “rare”. Note: I have placed an asterisk (*) next to ingredients to buy in bulk if you’ll be mixing multiple batches or large 5-gallon buckets—although most ingredients can be purchased in various small quantities, 50-pound bags can save a significant amount of money. If it’s your first time mixing and you’re only mixing a few tests, a 5-pound bag would suffice.
glaze pantry

Once you have the foundations of your glaze lab set up, you may want to consider adding a few additional items: a drill mixer for mixing large batches of glaze in 5-gallon buckets; an immersion blender for mixing small test batches; a rack or rolling cart to keep bulk ingredients off the floor; a sturdy table for mixing; glaze software; and a vent equipped with a dust filter. Have fun experimenting and building your glaze pantry!

Deanna Ranlett owns MudFire Clayworks and Gallery (www.mudfire.com). She has been a working ceramic artist for 13 years.

**First published in 2013.
Comments
  • I didn’t se mention of a scale, I’m a fan of the classic triple beam balance but also use a digital scale for smaller batch testing.

  • Kristin A.

    Hi, it would be interesting so see the pdf spreadsheet that is mentioned in the part of “large batching”.

  • Ceallach O.

    I would say label both lids and jars, it helps to keep jars uncontaminated and mated proper-like.

    Also, for glaze testing, I like a regular blender….it was a good way to upgrade my blender and recycle. Just label all the parts as clay only. In my family, rags and other things I use for clay mysteriously appear in the house….so I label label label.

    I am also finding that when I am working in glaze kitchen, my brain is thinking kitchen and expects it to be organized that way….right down to spatulas and spoons in a jar on the counter….

  • Sorry——I read through the article again and saw an explanation for the asterisk——please ignore my previous comment!

  • Thank you so much for the glaze pantry shopping list! One question about it, though——several items are marked with asterisks, but there’s no note explaining the meaning of the asterisk. Can you provide an explanation of what the asterisk means?

  • Cathy P.

    Thank you for this post. I am excited to get started.
    You recommend a spreadsheet and say
    ‘see pdf attachment’. I don’t see the pdf here?

  • Bruce J.

    Good buckets – I use 20 & 32 gallon Brute (Rubbermaid) janitorial ones with the attachable 5-wheel dollies to move about from a slip blunger for mixing to the work station while using the glaze to under the work tables for storage. For smaller buckets, most hardware stores have sturdy ones. And don’t forget the lids!!

  • brian p.

    Sieves – if you’re going to start making your own glazes, it is essential to at least have 1-2 glaze sieves to help incorporate your materials. An 80 mesh sieve is a good start.

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