Glazing is my least favorite part of the ceramic process. I’ve ruined many a lovely pot by poor glaze choices or poor glaze application. Every type of glaze application has its advantages and disadvantages. Brushing glazes can allow you to get a great application, but it is more time consuming than dipping. Dipping can result in unwanted drip marks, especially when you are first learning. All of these challenges are compounded when learning how to glaze large pottery.
In this post, an excerpt from the January/February 2019 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated, Gabriel Kline shares tips for glazing large pots that will help you find success! –Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.
Tips on How to Glaze Large Pottery
Learning how to glaze large pottery requires some special techniques. For work that’s larger than any bucket you may have, there are still several ways to get an even coat of glaze. These techniques can require more than one person, so don’t be afraid to ask a friend for help.
To glaze the interior of a large vertical piece, pour several pitchers of glaze into the inside of the piece. Station an assistant next to the work with a large container to catch the excess glaze as you pour it out. Quickly, but smoothly, pick up the piece and begin to rotate it to coat the entire interior of the vessel. As you’re turning it, invert it to the point where it begins to pour out the neck. Try to make two full revolutions to coat the entire interior, then pour out all the excess glaze. The water in the glaze will begin to permeate the entire piece from the inside, so you may see discoloration from the outside. For this reason, wait until the next day, when the water has evaporated out of the bisque, to glaze the exterior of the piece. Otherwise, the saturated bisque will absorb insufficient glaze, yielding an unintended and often unsatisfactory result.
Once the interior glaze has dried, place the large piece on a banding wheel sitting inside a large plastic serving bowl. Place it either right-side up or inverted, depending on the degree of a glaze’s runniness. Inverted will work better for runny glazes, as more glaze will build up at the top of the pieces. Excessive runny glaze at the bottom of a large piece risks its loss as it’s much easier for the glaze to flow off of the piece and fuse it to the kiln shelf below. If the lip of the piece is narrower than the width of the banding wheel, you may want to place the piece on two equally thick pieces of wood so that the glaze can flow off the lip of the piece without building up too much. If pouring, spin the banding wheel slowly, pouring glaze from the top of the piece while it spins (1, 2). The glaze will run down the side of the pot and flow into the plastic bowl. Let the banding wheel make two full revolutions before pouring the glaze lower down on the piece. Continue pouring glaze down the piece until the entire exterior is coated (3). Wait until the piece has dried before removing it from the banding wheel.
While pouring glaze over large work is the quickest way to cover the surface with glaze, you can also spray the surface, or use brushes. Dipping is possible, but requires several people, containers the size of a bathtub or larger, and massive (100,000-gram) batches of glaze.
Check out the full article in Pottery Making Illustrated to learn how to glaze a large platter or bowl!