Brushing glazes seems so basic that we seldom discuss it.  It just isn't sexy.  But I have spent the past year finding ways to make my brush applied Cone 6 electric glazes look dipped, sprayed, and gas fired.  And I am hoping that if I share my tricks, you all will share yours too.

My first secret is the glaze movement.  There are well behaved (viscous) glazes, there are shelf destroying runny glazes, and there is everything in between.  When I pick a glaze, color is not my first consideration.  Consistency is always my first concern.  I need 1 glaze that never moves, no matter what, and 1 glaze that runs like crazy.  It seems obvious enough that a viscous glaze does well along the bottom of the pot and a very runny glaze along the rim will give the effect of a nice thick rim dip.

Here, the white "rim dip" is a crystalline glaze.  It doesn't get any runnier than that (in fact I always use a catch plate).  I create this effect by applying the very viscous blue glaze from the bottom line and brushing up.  I want the top edge of the blue to be uneven and of various thickness, not just a solid line.  If it accidentally becomes a line, I use a sponge to break it up.

3 coats and allow to dry.

I then apply the runny glaze from the top edge down and overlapping the blue 1/4 inch.  because it is runny, it doesn't matter if a clear line develops at the bottom edge of the white glaze.  It is going to move all over the place anyway.  3 coats and allow to dry before repeating for the inside of the bowl (although I substituted a black liner glaze for the bottom inside). You can see more views of this piece here: Etsy - Lithology 

My next secret is that lovely burnt look at the rim.  This white glaze is not a breaking glaze.  That is a brushed effect.  I need to take some pictures, but I will be back with that description shortly.  Happy Saturday all!.

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nice article, thanks for sharing your tips!

Great rim effect !


That's  a stunning combination of colour and texture. Thanks for the tips.

Y'all jump in here anytime.  Everyone has a secret or two they can share with friends.

As promised, here is the Breaking Glaze Effect.

    Painters use brushes in a variety of ways.  A "full brush" will give a dark, even three dimensional line.  But as the brush empties, you get a dry brush effect where you can see lines left by the individual hairs of the brush.  I use a dry brush technique for many special effects, but it is most obvious as a breaking glaze at the rim.

     I start by glazing the outside and inside of the piece.  I try not to get glaze on the top of the rim, but there is always some.  I remove it with a sponge and allow to dry.  The special effect glaze is then applied thickly to the top.  I wipe any excess glaze off the brush and then brushed down in short strokes letting the brush go dry on the outside and inside of the rim.

    I have a half dozen special effect glazes because some glazes don't play well together.  The first one I found was Coyote Clay Black, which works well with many glazes.  It is a good stable glaze and a good place to start.  I also use a metallic glaze called Stainless Steel which is a manganese based accent glaze. 

    The key is testing, testing, testing since sometimes black and dark glazes suddenly go green or something nasty when layered.  I highly recommend extruded tubes instead of tiles for such tests so the glaze can run.  

    One final thought, glaze combos can, and likely will, change the chemistry going on, so even if you use two food safe glazes, re-test the combined glaze.  Another reason to use tubes for tests.  Little shapes allow for an easy lemon wedge on the edge, a few runs through the dishwasher and you can toss them in the freezer a dozen at a time.

    You can see a variety of these edges on my work here:

Okay, your turn!



I really like your different glaze combos and use of carrying textures.  Are you using commercial glazes mainly? My glazes are primarily all mixed by me and from different sources but mainly from this forum.  I've been using different glazes but have been doing them on different areas for a sharp break in surface.

I do spray as it gives a very even smooth coat of glaze but would rather brush glazes on and have tried many ways to add brush ability.  One way I like to amend my glazes is through a method described in a you tube by John Britt where you mix a bentonite and water mixture to a pudding consistency in a lidded container and in a separate container mix water and epsom salts (sorry can't remember measures right now).  If you have a glaze that hard pans you bring the particles back into suspension then add small amounts of epsom salt mixture and bentonite mixture until consistency thickens enough to keep particles in suspension.  This also means the glaze will be thick enough to consistently brush on.  I also add 1 - 2 % CMC gum solution to water used to mix a glaze as it adds dry strength making it easier to handle the dry glazed pots (I always use gloves as well because the surface is still fragile and the plastic barrier helps).  The CMC also aids in brushability

I'm looking for crystalline glazes as well since I finally have an electronic controller for my kiln.  I have a glaze I call Caribbean Crystal that gives really nice dependable crystals with a regular firing cycle - no holds.This plate isn't intended for food because of crazing.

Kathy, thank you for the reply.  You first picture is not loading.  I would love to see it, so I hope you try again.  (If it is one of your photos on your profile page here, a link will work.)

I do use a number of commercial crystalline glazes, but I like to mess with them.  I love Lagoona's Lavender Filigree because it is designed as a base glaze.  It allows all sorts of experiments.  Hmmmm....we need a crystalline glaze thread to talk about those!

Because I am an attorney by day, and I work with injured workers, I see what exposure to silica and other chemicals in dust/airborne form can do to a person.  Terrible.  So I reduce my exposure by reducing the glazes I mix, of course I have a great mask for when I do mix, and I will not spray glaze.  But I love the way a sprayed glaze looks (don't we all!)  I think you CAN get exactly the look you are getting now with a brush.  Like everything in art, it takes practice and patience.  I really appreciate the thoughts on getting a glaze to brush consistency.  I just leave my lid off for a few days, which is not the most scientific method.  : )

When I am glazing next weekend, I will get some photos and write a few paragraphs on even application and spray imitation with a brush.

A crystalline glaze thread is a terrific idea as there seems to be a lot more interest in them.  I'm very interested in crackle glazes as well, especially snowflake crackle.  That would be a terrific effect for the Christmas ornaments I make every year.  

Dawn, this is a beautiful piece. May i ask  you which glaze you used for the brown effect ? Enjoyed reading about the full v dry brush technique.  Thanks for sharing.  cp

cp, I am embarrassed.  I am a real stickler for glaze notes and require my students to have a glaze notebook in order to take my class.  But the white/blue combo is new, I tested it right the tea bowl shown with other variations on other tea bowls, and I didn't write down which glaze I used for this rim - of course, the one the worked best.  Thus, the tapdancing in my explanation.  I would guess it is Mayco Burnished Steel, but I am re-testing the combo properly in the next fire and can confirm as soon as I can fill this darn kiln. 

I need glaze fairies!  : )

I would love to know your results.  Again, thank you.  cp


This is great info. Thanks for sharing. I'm waiting to hear how you get the breaking line on the rim.

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