Glazing (Painting) Clay

For the second piece in a series about my new (and exciting) clay adventures, I want to share the glazing process.

After the clay is fired to “bisque” it is white and hard. At this point you can put on under-glazes and top-coat glazes. You can also apply under-coat glazes to “wet” clay that has not yet been fired in the kiln, but you cannot apply top-coat glazes to “wet” clay.

I have used under-glazes in the past, but did not experiment as extensively. The under-glazes are actually slip (liquidy clay) that is dyed with color, and applies just like paint, though dries faster. You can apply it in thin, watery coats for a water-color like effect, and more layers for more opacity – three to four layers make it completely opaque. I have been also layering with different colors, and blending, as you can see below. I am looking so forward to getting them out of the kiln because the colors change slightly, especially when the top-coat glaze (the glassy finish) is applied.

I also recently found out that the official term for carving leather-hard clay (that I mentioned in the previous post) is called “sgraffito.” Instead of just carving on the plain clay, on suggestion of my clay teacher, I painted onto the wet clay with under-glazes, and then did the sgraffito. I am very happy with how things have turned out so far – I am excited to see how the final product looks with glaze finish out of the kiln.


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