With the popularity of electric kilns these days, potters are coming up with wonderful ceramic glaze layering techniques to add surface depth to their pieces. We have published a number of these layering techniques right here on this blog, from Peter Karner’s process of layering glazes to create geometric patterns, to Donna Polseno’s more pictorial layered matte glazes.
Today’s post, an excerpt from the September/October issue of Pottery Making Illustrated, features another cool ceramic glaze layering technique. In this excerpt, Melissa Mytty shares how she creates “Dots Galore” on her tumblers with layered commercial glazes and underglazes. – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.
PS. For some more variations on Melissa’s ceramic glaze layering techniques, check out the September/October 2019 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated!
For the Dots Galore pattern, start with a block of orange or blue underglaze, typically at the bottom of the piece. Apply a base glaze to the rest of the piece. Then meticulously add a red-dot glaze pattern in rows, starting from the top of the piece (1). This layer is the most important because it establishes the groundwork for all the other dots that will be layered on top. This first layer of glazed dots is also the most time consuming. After all the red base dots have been applied, go over each red dot with a white glaze, leaving a ring of the red around the outside (2). This red ring pops once the piece is fired. The white glaze allows the top dot color to be visible when the pot is finished. If you put the final color directly on the red without the white barrier, the red eats up the pigment and the colors are very muted.
After the white layer has been applied, the real fun begins because the design comes to life when the final colored dots are applied. Add the dots in rows or random patterns with purples, greens, and yellows, according to your preference (3).
For the dot application, the choice of brush is very important and the amount of glaze on the brush is critical. Use a brush that’s slightly rounded, but not totally round. The dots cannot be rushed because it takes a second for the glaze to come off the brush and for the right dot shape to form on the surface before you can move on to the next dot. Use the same brush for the red layer of dots and the white layer of dots and simply adjust the pressure applied to the brush, lessening the pressure for the white dot so it’s smaller. Switch to a smaller brush for the final glaze color. The luster brush that’s used for the final gold luster dots is the smallest brush used in this technique (4).
While glazing, you can use a heat gun to quickly dry areas so that the glaze doesn’t accidentally smudge. If you accidentally smudge an area, dry it with the heat gun and use an X-Acto knife to scrape any smudges off the pot.
Melissa Mytty is currently working as a studio artist in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, where she and her husband are raising their two young daughters. She has an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Follow her on Instagram @melissamytty and at melissamyttyshop.com or melissamytty.com.