Tuesday, 15 September 2009

What is a glaze?

A mature pottery student recently asked me the question 'What is a ceramic glaze?' I hesitated whilst contemplating how to answer what initially seemed a very simple question. In the end I gave him 2 answers , a non technical one and a technical one. The precise amount of information he required depended much on how he wanted to use the information.

Sometimes too much information only leads to confusion!

For example an evening class student wanting only to paint pottery and later have it glazed and fired by an established potter needs only basic information.

In contrast a student studying pottery making and ultimately wishing to make and fire his own glazes needs a much more detailed chemical approach.

The Answers

These are the answers I gave him:-

1) A pottery glaze is a glassy coating applied to the surface of a ceramic to create a smooth, impervious, and decorative finish.

2) A pottery glaze is a mixture of ceramic materials which may often include minerals such as felspar and silica, a glass like component such as frit, clay as a suspending agent, and pigment as colouration. Many other minerals or oxides may also be used. These materials are finely ground in water to produce a glaze slip. Other organic and inorganic additives may at this stage be added to aid application. The slip is then applied to the ceramic body and fired to a sufficiently high temperature for the components to physically and chemically react to form a smooth glassy coating that bonds strongly to the body. Normally a temperature in excess of 1000C is required.

Do you have any simple questions you want answering? Please let me know.

More information on pottery making can be found at my website The PottersFriend

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