Bulb Glazing: An Alternative Glazing Technique for Pottery

 A Different Approach to Glazing Ceramics

bulb glazing

Contrary to what I thought when I was just starting out in ceramics, there are a lot of different glazing techniques for pottery. From dipping your pots, to applying glaze with a ladle, to using brushable glazes for ceramic painting techniques, there are a variety of ways to get glaze onto a pot.

In today’s post, an excerpt from the September/October 2016 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated, you’ll learn about a great one—especially if you like creating surface designs with different colors of glazes. Thomas Gelsanliter uses a bulb syringe to apply different colors to his raised-line tiles. This would also work with stamped textures! – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.

P.S. Read the rest of Thomas Gelsanliter’s article in the September/October 2016 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated to learn how he develops and transfers his sketches as well as detailed information on his mold-making and hand-pressing processes. 


Bulb Glazing

Remove the soft clay tile from the mold (1). Before applying the first glaze, generously spray the bisque-fired tile with water and wait until it’s all absorbed. This is an important step as the water-saturated bisque allows for a smoother distribution of glaze as it’s being applied. Fill a bulb syringe with a metal tip attached to the end of it with glaze. Test your glaze thickness to make sure the glaze comes out of the tip at a controllable rate and doesn’t clog the tip, then squeeze the glaze to pool it into the confined areas delineated by the raised lines (2).

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bulb glazing
Figure 1

bulb glazing
Figure 2

We use 2-ounce bulb syringes to apply glazes. They can be purchased from a pharmacy or ordered on the Internet. The metal tips are a separate piece that is attached by hand to the end of the bulb each time a new glaze is filled in the bulb. These tips, available from Axner Pottery Supply (www.axner.com), come in four sizes. The size of the tip corresponds to the number of rings inscribed around the bottom of the tip. A one-tip has one ring around the bottom and has the smallest diameter tip. A four-tip has four rings and has the largest opening, allowing more glaze to flow out more quickly when bulb glazing.

bulb glazing
Figure 3

If you mistakenly apply a glaze to the top of a line or in the wrong area, use an X-Acto knife or a needle tool to scrape off the glaze. Then use a small dense sponge or a make-up sponge to remove all the glaze from the surface.

Once the entire surface has been bulb-glazed and it has fully dried, dip the edges in glaze and wipe away any excess drips with a dense sponge (3).

**First published in 2016.
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