Getting the Most Out of Ceramic Glazes and Underglazes: Using Commercial Ceramic Glazes and Underglazes to Achieve Color, Depth, and Complexity

Dive into the world of ceramic glazes, underglazes, and stains in this FREE PDF!

Underglazes are basically clay-based materials with ceramic stains and metallic oxides added to create a full spectrum of color in your work. They’re the fastest, easiest, and most dependable way for you to add pizzazz to your pottery or sculptures for just an accent or an entire surface treatment. Like many other art materials, underglazes come in a wide variety of forms—liquid, dry, chalks, pens, and pencils—so no matter what your background, a ceramic surface awaits your colorful treatment.

Check out this excerpt:

A World of Color

by David L. Gamble

Test all underglazes for your studio conditions—clay body, firing, overglazes, etc. Create test tiles with samples and apply a clear overglaze to half the swatch. You’ll find the colors deepen in value with a clear glaze.

Underglazes are one of the most popular ways to add color to clay work. They’re easy to use at any age or skill level and they can be applied at both the green and bisque stage of work. Underglazes come in many forms—liquid, powder, pencil, crayon, liquid writers, bottle applicators, underglaze pads, watercolor-type pan sets and tubes. Typically, liquid underglazes contain gum or binders to help them adhere to ware and also add some green strength. If you decide to purchase dry underglaze, you may also need a mixing medium, for example, Standard Ceramics specifies mixing one part colorant and one part mixing medium. The medium adheres well and creates a harder surface than water so there is less smearing if you’re working on bisque and placing a clear glaze on top before firing.

Underglaze pencils, crayons and chalks vary depending on the manufacturer. They’re designed to be used on bisqueware because rubbing them onto a fragile greenware surface can break the greenware. Pencils produce a nice pastel or a pencil-type effect depending on how smooth the clay surface is. Many are very dry and break easily during application, and most are imported from outside the U.S. Some pencils contain waxes to help them adhere to a bisque surface, but these need a clear glaze on top to keep them from rubbing off after they’re fired. Caution: Never put underglaze pencils in an electric pencil sharpener.

Many companies offer underglazes by different brand names, but they all pretty much function the same way. Underglazes come as premixed liquids or dry, large and small quantities, and in different formats, such as crayons, pencils and pens. If you’re not sure what you’d like to do, order 2 oz. bottles and experiment before you invest in pints or gallons. Here is a partial listing of offerings, but remember that most of the companies listed here sell their products through distributors. For more information, go to the company websites or check with your local supplier.



Homemade Underglazes

by Holly Goring

Underglazes are widely available but if you’re adventurous, you may want to try to mix your own. Holly provides a basic recipe and instructions for creating your own underglazes and the special instructions required for success.

Creating the Layered Look with Commercial Glazes and Underglazes

by Nancy Gardner, with Burt Isenstein

Nancy Gardner loves commercial glazes and underglazes because the color choices are virtually unlimited. In this article she shares how she and her husband Burt layer them up to create bright and beautiful floral designs on her pottery.

Using Ceramic Underglazes

by David L. Gamble

Commercial underglazes are a great way to add color to your work using a variety of application methods. They’re formulated to have low drying shrinkage, they can be applied to bone-dry greenware or to bisque-fired surfaces. In addition to being able to change the surface color of your clay body, underglazes can also be used to change the texture of the body.

Creating Depth with Ceramic Glaze

by Lisa Bare-Culp

There are many ceramic glazes that look great all by themselves, but you can really bring your own style and voice forward when you start using techniques like pouring, carving, and layering to create depth in the ceramic glaze surface.

Low-Fire Red Glazes

by David L. Gamble

If you have ever tried to formulate a red glaze, you know how difficult it can be. But even if you buy commercial red glazes, you understand that they need a certain amount of attention and precision paid to them during application and firing. This article will help you understand and keep track of all the variables when applying and firing red ceramic glazes.

Download the free guide right now, and become a better ceramic artist tomorrow. That’s our promise to you from Ceramic Arts Network!

Best regards,

Jennifer Poellot Harnetty
Editor, Ceramic Arts Daily

PS: Remember, the artists featured on Ceramic Arts Network are among the top ceramic artists in the world today, who excel in everything from functional pottery to abstract ceramic sculpture. When you download one of our free guides, you get the best possible advice available and you become a part of our community – enjoying our artists’ stories, gaining inspiration from their work and finding confidence to try new techniques every day!

PPS: Even if you’re not brand new to clay, this guide is bound to have some tips in it that you’ve never heard before – and remember, it’s absolutely FREE, so why wouldn’t you read it today?

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