Category Archives: glaze

Trouble With Fall

Trouble with fall is… it’s dark. It’s dark all the time. The day feels like it ends before it really had a chance to be a day. It’s just depressing. This year in Chicago we didn’t have much time to enjoy fall colors. Our fall colors were gray and bleak. Funny how in Hawaii gray is dramatic, whereas here it’s just bleak. Maybe it’s the lack of palm trees.

Anyway, I can’t complain for a whole post, can I. Perhaps to compensate for the lack of beautiful happy fall I updated my collection of fall-themed glaze colors.  I am not totally sure what I’m going to do with them yet (maybe I’ll have it figured by next fall ha-ha) but here they are:

Photo Nov 03, 5 29 52 PM Photo Nov 03, 5 29 59 PM Photo Nov 03, 5 30 07 PM

Left to right: Indian Summer, Autumn, and Burnt sugar.

I also noticed something cool about Fireluster. I put it on one of my soap dishes expecting a rusty color, and noticed that where it’s really thick it looks more glassy and like a deep beautiful red…

Photo Nov 07, 8 01 07 AM

So that’s all I’ve got for you today. Just gotta keep fighting through the rest of fall and winter.

What do you do in the fall to stay motivated when it gets dark and gloomy?

Orchid Pot Update

Sometimes (usually) it takes me a while to take a project from idea to completion. Partly that’s because the whole process takes a while and partly it’s because I get new ideas all the time and it’s so easy to get distracted.  This post is about a project that I actually took from sketch to completion!  It’s about my orchid pots.

You can see the sketches in my previous post, here. And here, in this post, are the completed pots. I did 2 colors inside: Tearose and Caribbean Blue, 2 colors outside: black and white, and 2 designs: flowers and curly clouds. Here they are on their own with flattering lighting and with orchids in them:

I ran into a several challenges with these pots…

  1. Translucent colors + black opaques turned green and it doesn’t look great. I don’t mean in general. In general that’s a very nice effect. But in this case, it looks like poor execution.
  2. Carving the clouds was very tricky and the overhanging parts kept breaking off. Each pot has at least one cloud piece that fell off. By comparison, the flowers held up very well. Also with the flowers I painted part of the outside with the accent color and I like how that looks.
  3. S-cracks on the large pots. This one’s a little baffling because I think they were properly constructed. I asked 3 or 4 people for a second opinion and they said, “maybe you dried them too fast?” Yeah, maybe. The S-cracks for your second opinion:
    IMG_1950[1] IMG_1949[1]

Overall it was a fun project. A great iteration 1 for pots that I can make for people in the future. So I’ll keep working on making these guys not crack and possibly switch to making them out of slab instead of wheel-thrown.

If you think you know what’s up with the S-cracks, please, PLEASE let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!

Maui Vacation Inspiration

In a departure from the usual pottery posts, today’s post is about my trip to Maui. I was there all last week, golfing, taking in the sites, eating, staying warm, eating… (no, eating is not listed twice by mistake.)

Well, ok, this is still going to be about pottery. Being away from home and work for several days diverted my attention from the everyday worries and current projects. With no opportunity to make anything ceramic I’ve been looking around and taking note of all the things that I can draw inspiration from. Here are a couple for your viewing pleasure:

Lava Rocks and Tide Pools

What fascinates me about these is that they are almost monochromatic and primarily interesting for the textures of the rock/sea urchin. I could reproduce a similar color palette with a varying intensities of iron oxide (very fitting b/c I bet there’s a good amount of iron oxide in that lava rock), a black underglaze for more intense shading, and a neutral colored glaze. Maybe throw in a little blue for an accent… can’t you see this turning into a lava-inspired soap dish?

Flowers and Leaves

These are a low-hanging fruit, as they say. The number of shapes and colors in nature is vast and there’s no lack of inspiration to be collected. I don’t see myself making fuchsia anything any time soon, but the shapes are definitely very unique and cool. Also,  I like the way the colors of the flowers switch from the outside color of the flower to yellow on the inside (on all the flowers). I will be going back to these pictures next time I make a pot with different colors on the inside vs. the outside. The other leaf/bark pics will be good reference for texture and color designs.


The first 2 days of the trip it was cloudy and gray, but it still managed to be beautiful. It was a very calm, peaceful kind of beauty. I am thinking, “what glazes could I use to re-create this mood?” Perhaps Peacock, Seafoam Green, Holiday green, and black underglaze for contrast. Hopefully moody Maui colors don’t come across as straight-up depressing in Chicago winter.


Glaze Blacklist & Whitelist

I’ve got quite a stash of glazes now and used most of them on at least a couple of pieces. Several have turned out to be very unstable and I am blacklisting them. Here they are, for public shaming:


  1. Duncan Crackle Celadon. I already publicly shamed it in a previous post, but seriously, this glaze is a mess! Never again. Remember this fisaco? That’s the Crackle Celadon. Photo Aug 30, 2 43 56 PM
  2. Duncan Envision Emerald Green. It’s not as bad as the Celadon, but I won’t be taking my chances with it again. I may mix it into another stable glaze or use it and coat it with clear, but will not order more. Even though the color is beautiful, the bubbles re not worth it. Photo Aug 30, 2 44 24 PM
  3. Duncan Envision Nordic Light White.  This one is tricky because it wasn’t immediately apparent how problematic it was. Now I get pitting very consistently, and even worse, it makes the glazes around it in the kiln pit. Both of these cups had Nordic White inside:Mug #6 Mug #4

Graylist (“meh” describes how I feel about these)

  1. Mirror Blue. this one doesn’t bubble or pit like the offenders above, but it is really runny. I will look for another blue.
    mirror blue and royal purple tester
    In fact, I don’t care for that purple inside the test cup either. I’ll include it in the MEH list, especially because when mixed with white it looks blue.
  2. Orange Slice. Orange slice isn’t a bad glaze, actually I don’t know. I did one test cup and lost all interest, it’s so bland. It’s more of an orange creamsicle than an orange slice. Photo Aug 30, 2 46 08 PM


  1. Duncan Envision Clear. Where the Nordic Light fails, clear delivers. This one turned out great even next to the crazy pitting white. You can really see how nice the surface is on this piece:  Photo Oct 05, 12 33 14 PM Underglaze painted mug
  2. Amaco Seafoam. This color is amazing. It’s a nice calm but moody aquamarine. It has behaved pretty well for me, and it gets a little white-ish sheen where it’s thicker, which I think is beautiful. It holds boundaries well when used for painting. In the candle holder it’s in the center and on the other dish, it’s looks blue when painted over white.   Photo Oct 13, 6 56 59 PM (1) Candle holder
  3. Mayco Burnished steel. I love its subdued sparkle and how it turns into a deep green when overlapping with translucent colors. It’s also very pleasant to the touch.  The right flower pot is Burnished Steel. The right one is Antique Pewter, which is also nice but a lot shinier.Photo Oct 13, 6 55 05 PM Burnished Steel and Blueberry Mug
  4. Mayco Copper Adventurine. For all its instability, I still love it. It makes the nicest accents with blues and greens and when mixed with clear gives a great caramel color. Photo Sep 02, 7 53 28 PM Photo Aug 30, 2 46 55 PM
  5. Duncan Envision Blueberry Spice. Its very delicate purplish color with speckles reminds me or ice cream and tiny quail eggs. Blueberry spice is also fairly stable and plays well with other colors.
    Burnished Steel and Blueberry Mug Cream thing

Wax Resist

One of the more underrated techniques for decorating pottery is use of wax resist. In all the classes I’ve taken, hardly anyone uses it and it’s damn shame. The reason this technique is so great is that you have a lot of control over the decoration of your pot and you can create some very intricate/delicate patterns.

On greenware wax resist is used to create a textured pattern. You paint it on bone dry clay, let it dry and then wash away the clay around your pattern. The result will be a slightly raised pattern.

Photo Aug 18, 9 14 32 PM

You can draw the design in pencil first, then cover in wax resist. Its relatively easy to apply with a thin brush and dries quickly.
Pro tip 1: when wiping away clay around the wax resist, wash the clay out of your sponge constantly. Otherwise you’ll just spread around a bunch of slip instead of removing it.
Pro tip 2: squeeze a lot of water our of the sponge when wiping away clay. With too much water you will wash away the clay from underneath the wax resist and your pattern will disappear.

Photo Sep 02, 7 52 06 PM

This is the result. You can see the design pop out of the piece. This works very well with translucent glazes. I haven’t tried opaque ones, but maybe it’ll look cool too. give it a try, let me know how it goes.

On bisqueware you can use wax resist to define borders between colors or control overlap.

Photo Aug 30, 2 45 51 PM

Example 1: glaze against unglazed wax-resisted surface: The text was written in wax resist and after the glaze was applied, i wiped down the cup. You can see the borders of the glaze came out really sharp.

Example 2A: Glaze 1 ia applied and partially wax-resisted those are the darker areas of red)

Example 2a: Glaze 1 is applied and partially wax-resisted (those are the darker areas of red after the wax resist dried)

Example 2: wax resist applied to define where glazes should and should not layer

Example 2b: wax resist applied to define where glazes should and should not layer. A second layer of glaze is applied on the whole piece. 
Pro tip 3: make sure that wax resist is completely dry before you paint over it. Otherwise you will not get a clean separation like you see in this pic.

Example 2B: you can see where the sparkly copper glaze wasnt covered by the green.

Example 2c: you can see where the sparkly copper glaze wasn’t covered by the green vs. where it was.

I hope that I’ve just inspired you to try wax resist.

If something I’ve explained above doesn’t make sense or didn’t work, please let me know in the comments!

Painting with Glaze

After a particularly long day in the studio I sometimes get questionable ideas. This is one of them. It’s questionable for a couple of reasons.

  1. I didn’t account for the fact that glaze runs
  2. I did 3 pieces at once with no testers

You’re probably thinking, “what the hell are you talking about?” I’m talking about using glaze like it’s paint. I decorated 3 pieces by painting an intricate pattern on them in glaze.

I wouldn’t say they look awful, but you can definitely see where the edges are all blurred. It matters also which glazes are next to each other. For example, I used Mirror blue on the bottom 2 pieces and that washed out pretty badly. The green didn’t have as much trouble.

Exhibit 1

Decorative Tea Cup
Decorative Tea Cup: design painted on with Burnished steel and  I put wax resist on the edges to keep it contained. That didn’t work!

Exhibit 2/3

These 2 pieces were inspired by Italian painted pottery but turned out totally NOT like Italian pottery. (The Italians must be using underglaze).
Photo Sep 09, 8 52 18 PMPhoto Sep 09, 8 51 49 PM

One thing I really do like about this whole painting “technique” is now green on top of yellow turned out. Perhaps if I had just stayed away from the Mirror Blue it would have turned out better. Live and learn.

Glaze Combination Test Cups

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming after that random Excel novel.

Remember when I was designing a honey-themed pot? I actually made it (will post more on that later) but didn’t have the right glaze for it. It can’t be too yellow, nor too brown, nor too clear. To look right it’s got to be the right shade of honey. This is a common situation in  my experience – where I have a few glazes that are kind of close to what I want but none are exactly right. Fortunately with low fire glaze, you can just mix the colors and they have a high probability of turning out well.

Of course, if you just spent however many hours making some intricate design, you don’t want to use that pot to test, though.  Hence test cups. Here’s the latest set.

1.Copper Adventurine + Clear

My goal was to achieve a honey-yellow color, ideally with sparkles.

Photo Aug 30, 2 46 55 PM

Outside: 1 layer of clear, 1 layer of CA, 1 layer of clear, all brushed on around.
Inside: Clear pre-mixed with CA


2. Hopefully Lilac

With this one I was aiming for a pleasant lilac color, not too purple, not too blue.

Photo Aug 30, 2 45 51 PM

Roughly equal parts of Larkspur and Blueberry spice, and 1.3 ish part Tearose, brushed on every which way


3. Glaze Layering Experiment

I wanted to see how well painted-on lines would stay and how painting one glaze on top of another woudl do. With these two colors you can’t even see where they’re layered.  (combination of the 2 mixes from above)

Photo Aug 30, 2 46 36 PM Photo Aug 30, 2 46 41 PM

4. Steel Boundaries

Bottom: Steel;  top: Tearose, Larkspur, Seafoam Green

Photo Aug 30, 2 47 06 PM Photo Aug 30, 2 47 12 PM

It’s a little bit hard to see here, but Burnished Steel turns into a cool dark green wherever it overlaps with a translucent glaze. I like! I also have a new appreciation for seafoam green. It’s a much more interesting color on here than it was on a test tile.

4. Orange Slice

The words are painted on in iron oxide. This is just a new glaze that I bought. Looks pretty plain, stable, orange-y.

Photo Aug 30, 2 46 01 PM Photo Aug 30, 2 46 08 PM

5. Blue and Yellow Combinations

I’m a big fan of how this turned out. Just that transition from yellow to glassy lime green makes me happy.

Photo Aug 30, 2 46 20 PM

Outside: layer of yellow, half celadon crackle, half blueberry
Inside: 1 layer of fireluster, half celadon crackle, half blueberry