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What to Do Before Glazing Pottery

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Before glazing pottery by any of the five methods, there are several things you should do. These tips will help you avoid glaze problems in the kiln, as well as making it easier to get a good, even glaze coating on the pot.

Clean Pots Before Glazing

Glaze does not like dirty pottery. Before you begin glazing, clean each pot using a stiff brush or slightly damp sponge to remove any dust.

If there is any chance of a pot having grease on it, even the grease from fingerprints, clean it thoroughly with mild dish soap to remove the grease, then rinse thoroughly to remove the soap. Let the pot dry completely before applying glazes.

Dampen Dry Bisqueware

If a bisqued pot is too dry, the raw glaze will adhere too quickly. This results in uneven glaze coats, and can also lead to overly thick glazes that can run.

Just before glazing, dampen the pot's surface with a damp (but not dripping) sponge. If possible, use distilled water so as not to inadvertently introduce trace minerals to the pot's surface, such as iron or calcium (lime).

Use Clean Tools When Glazing

Make certain that all the tools you will be using are clean and dust-free. This includes any objects used for

  • mixing glazes, such as wire whisks, toilet bowl brushes, or mixing blades attached to a drill
  • holding glazes such as buckets, ladles, cups, and so forth, and
  • the most important tool of all, your hands.

Glazing Safety Tips

Before you begin glazing, remember to review the safety tips and best practices.

  • Never have food or drinks anywhere near the glazing area
  • Do not allow small children or pets to have access to the area
  • Never put your fingers in or near your eyes, mouth, nose, or any open skin areas, like cuts -- glaze dust may contain hazardous materials or irritants
  • Wear an apron or smock, and clean it immediately after you are done
  • Keep the glazing area clean, using a wet mop or a vacuum that traps particles 0.3 micron in diameter, and
  • if you are working with dry glazes, remember to use a National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) approved respirator.
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