One of the reasons I gravitated towards sgraffito and painting on my pottery was because the whole glazing process just frustrated me. Being someone who is more of a control freak than I care to be, putting a glaze on the pot that was orange in color that comes out blue after firing just itched my brain way too much! It hurt my head!

Please note this post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you click them and make a purchase.  This is, of course, at no cost to you, and I only share products that I use and love myself.

Pottery glaze is made from all kinds of chemicals and these chemicals all do something different. Add to that the process of layering glazes and some really crazy magic happens in the kiln.

For many years I made some very stable glazes and did not get very experimental with my glazing. I knew what my glazes would do and it was pretty conservative. They were nice, functional and pretty but they weren’t “wow” and I wanted “ wow”

This year things, and I, have changed. Now that I can do pottery for pottery sake (and not just to pay studio bills) I have more time to really get down and learn more about the chemistry of glaze.

And it’s pretty exciting!

Taking a Glaze Chemistry Class or two

I started my journey with a self paced, online class by Matt Katz, an expert in glaze chemistry. Ceramic Materials Workshop. I took two of his workshops, “Glazed and Confused” and “The Middle Glazes”.

On a quest to learn glaze chemistry
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
Not being scientifically minded, these glaze classes were pretty hard for me at first but stuff stuck in my head because I was beginning to get a grip on what was happening in the kiln.

But I still didn’t quite know what to do with all this information and felt I needed a bit more structure and a class that would have me experimenting and doing more hands on learning.

For several years I followed another glaze expert, Sue McCloud who wrote some very helpful blog posts. When she started offering glazing classes I signed up for her, “What do Glaze Materials Do” class because I felt that was a missing piece it the puzzle.

I wasn’t disappointed, it gave me exactly the information I felt I was lacking when looking at, and making glazes. It was, and still is, an invaluable class and one I will watch several times, I am sure.

Because that class helped me so much I enrolled in her “Art of Glaze Chemistry” class which I am currently doing.

So far we have run two experiments, “Removing a material” where we pick a simple glaze and mix up small batches, eliminating one of the materials. It was pretty neat actually seeing how the chemical actually affected the glaze. Below are my results!

  • Facebook
  • Pinterest

Our second experiment, called Subbing Fluxes, really helped me see how the different fluxes can make a difference. Not only in melt but in color changes!

  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
Here is the results of my Subbing Fluxes experiment

 

If you want to see these results more close, check out my bookmark on Glazy.org which is where I keep all my glaze recipes.

I actually got to use one of my test glazes on a pot that has been sitting on my shelf waiting to be glazed! It was an experimental pot that used a new clay and a new technique. I just couldn’t figure out how I wanted to glaze it!

One of the green glazes I made in the test above really turned out nice. It was subtle and transparent and I thought it would work well on this piece that had contrasting dark clay and white slip. Since we mixed 200g batches of each of the tests, I had a bit left over in the cup. Just enough for this piece.

It did not disappoint! I was thrilled with the results. In fact, it was one of my favorite pieces I pulled from the kiln!

Small pottery Vase with zebra design
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest

Small pottery Vase with zebra design
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
This is the piece that was all an experiment. New clay, new slip technique and new glaze! A winner in my book!

This week we go further into learning about the UMF and Stull map which will give us a better understanding of what a glaze will do before we even mix it!

Exciting times ahead!

Follow Me

Dani Montoya - Potter
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest

My name is Dani and I am the potter behind this page! I am retired and having a ball being the artist I always wanted to be. My studio is located in NW Arkansas where I live a quiet life, on a lake with my husband, 3 dogs and two cats.

Have a look around!

Digital Scale

Etekcity 0.1g Food Kitchen Scale, Digital Ounces and Grams for Cooking, Baking, Meal Prep, Dieting, and Weight Loss, 11 Pounds, Black
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
 
This is the scale I use for both weighing out glaze material and to weight packages for shipping. I love that the display is angled away from the weighting tray making it easy to read. Metric and Imperial weighing.
View on Amazon

 

Kiln Posts

5" Tall x 1" Wide Kiln Post - 4 Pack
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
 
I have a decent selection of these invaluable posts for use in your kiln to create shelves. It's a good idea to have a few of all the different sizes to accommodate the different size pieces you make.
View on Amazon

 

Shimpo Banding Wheel

  • Facebook
  • Pinterest

These may be expensive but they are worth every penny!!  They are banding wheels on steroids!  Super heavy duty and spins freely, smoothly, and quickly!!
View on Amazon

Kiln Wash

Penguin Pottery - 16 oz Liquid Kiln Wash - Ready to Use - No Need to Mix - Prevent Glaze from Sticking to Kiln Shelves
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest

 

2 Comments

  1. Kristen
    • Facebook
    • Pinterest

    Hi Dani,

    I love this post on breaking into glaze chemistry! I came across your post as I am also on a journey to develop my knowledge of glaze chemistry. Admittedly, this is not something I find particularly exciting to learn (Chemistry is not the hobby I thought I was getting involved in when I started pottery! haha) However, as you mentioned, I want to explore less conservative glazes and that means experimenting with a new skill!

    Your post has been really encouraging for me – I have been looking into Sue McLeod’s glaze class and now I think I am definitely going to pull the trigger. Especially after seeing your results on your round jar you pictured above – that is stunning.

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

    Reply
    • Dani Montoya
      • Facebook
      • Pinterest

      Hi Kristen,

      I am thrilled that I have encouraged you. Sue’s class was awesome and having assignments really made me experiment with chemical combinations. My understanding of glaze chemistry has really grown due to the class. She makes it pretty easy and completely understandable.

      Enjoy the class and all you will learn!

      Dani

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Glazes vs underglazes

When I was first learning about pottery one of the things that confused me the most was "what was the difference between glazes and underglazes". Most teachers focused on teaching you wheel throwing or hand building but very few actually teach you...

read more

Privacy Preference Center

    Become a VIP Studio Insider TODAY!

    VIP STUDIO INSIDERS ALWAYS GET FREE SHIPPING!

    I would love the opportunity to send you something in your email telling about new products, fun studio things, and upcoming shows.  Please allow me to come visit with you once or twice a month.


    Wonderful. You are subscribed!! I will be in touch. Thank you

    Pin It on Pinterest

    Share This