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My Best Tips on Glazing...and Life


My Best Tips on Glazing...and Life

Potters often ask me “How do you glaze like that?”. I usually respond with something silly and mildly helpful at best because I never really knew how to explain. It’s deeply intuitive….but that being said, I think I know the answer now.Beyond learning tested techniques and proper application, here is the first - and most important - tip I can offer. It applies to any creative endeavor, including (and especially) living a creative life. Here it is: 



My creative journey is not compatible with playing it safe, or not wanting to be wasteful, not wanting to embarrass myself, not wanting to make something ugly. All of those things I have been known to struggle with but true creativity takes a great deal of courage.

I don't share specifics about my glaze combos since most are Sublime Pottery signature combos that have become synonymous with my studio...and this is the same reason that I don’t ask other potters to share their glazes with me.

For example: I spent a grueling year tracking down the perfect turquoise. Had I just asked someone, I would have saved time and money but I would have also bypassed all of the new tricks I learned and the combos that resulted from the search. That being said, I can share the following information that you might find even more helpful in developing a style of your own:

START SIMPLE AND GET GOOD AT ONE COMBO...or a small handful. Then make small additions and let it grow organically. To start out, pick a single glaze line. I use around 12 different commercial brands now but I started with Potter's Choice and it is still my primary glaze line.

Almost all of their glazes have a detailed section of what the glaze looks like layered with other Potter's Choice glazes. It is still my go-to source of information and inspiration.

Below is the basic method that I started with and slowly developed my current style from. I will be using Potter’s Choice glazes as examples, since that is what I started with:

I separate the glazes into three categories: base layer, 'dress' layer and drip layer, Here are some great glaze suggestions to start with:

BASE LAYER (stable, non moving glazes).
Textured Amber Brown
Obsidian or any other Celadon glaze (different Amaco line)

“DRESS” LAYER (dynamic and reactive with the base layer)
Smokey Merlot
Blue Rutile

DRIP LAYER: (these are RUNNY)
Ancient Jasper
Albany Slip Brown

Try mixing and matching one from each category. You can look at the layering info of these glazes to get an idea of what they might do and gather inspiration. Just follow the link, click on a glaze and scroll down until you see the layering examples: https://www.amaco.com/t/glazes-and-underglazes/high-fire/potters-choice
Note: there are a handful of newer glazes that don’t yet have the layering info posted.  For more examples, click on "layering" under the "Resources" tab in the menu.

After exploring different combinations and you find a few you really like, spend time perfecting them.
- Experiment with applying the glazes in different patterns (Cosmic Cavern and Molten Beauty combos are the same three glazes applied in two different ways)
- Experiment with different glaze thicknesses or number of coats applied
- Try glazing on different shaped forms
- Experiment with firing on different kiln shelves or at different temperatures. Glazes can do wildly different things with small temperature changes

Be careful to not make too many changes at once or you might not be able to take note of which change had what effect. It may take months, but once you have something you really like, branch out from that foundation. Add another glaze, try a new base glaze or (my favorite) explore the idea of blending two combos into one new combo. Occasionally, go wild and be bold and make a lot of changes....but take crazy good notes, if you want to be able to do it again! ADDED: For good measure, always keep good notes.

To add to the idea of FOLLOWING YOUR CURIOSITY, if you hear a little voice that whispers: “I wonder what would happen if I………..?” write it down and give it a try! It’s okay to layer glazes that you aren’t seeing layering examples for. It’s okay to mix glaze brands. It’s even okay to apply the glazes with unusual tools (I tried swirling glazes onto cling wrap and wrapping that over a base layer). It’s following these curiosities that slowly develops into your own unique style.

FINALLY, accidents will happen. Results will not meet the expected outcome. Occasionally, accidents will thrust your style in a completely new direction. Unmet expectations can create something novel. Welcome the accidents and mistakes. Take a breath before throwing a mistake in the bin. Amazing things are there if you just dig a little.

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