Fast Five Glaze Testing

I shamelessly lifted this text from Diana Pancioli's Website. You may want to visit her site for the graphic that might make this method clearer. It looks to be a highly effective method for investigating small percentage, one ingredient modifications to a given glaze. Good luck, and please report back how this method has worked out for you.


This testing strategy for ceramic glazes is fast and effective. It can be used to test colorants—to explore increasing amounts of saturation—or to test base glaze additions in order to explore changes to a glaze or to correct problems. I didn't invent this technique; it was used by chemists in an earlier age to investigate materials without weighing out tiny amounts. The "Fast Five" is accurate enough to point to possible solutions with very little investment in time.
  1. Weigh out 10 grams of a colorant or additive. Square and flatten the powder onto a piece of paper with a knife or spatula.
  2. The Plan: With your knife, you will divide the 10 gram square in half and push the half to one side. Then you will divide one of the halves in half again, push it aside into a separate pile and repeat this four times, until you have 5 piles of the additive.
  3. Push each pile aside as you divide it.
  4. Beginning with the smallest pile, add it to 200 grams (100 dry) of a wet base glaze. Just assume that 200 wet grams equals 100 dry—it is close enough.
  5. Stir the addition into the glaze and apply it to one end of a rectangular test tile (about 2 x 5 inches).
  6. Continue to add the dry ingredient into the same cup of glaze, the smallest amount remaining each time. Remember to apply the glaze to the tile after each addition.
  7. Label the back of the tile withglaze name and additive. You need not write the amounts on the tile as the percentages are always the same in a Fast Five test.


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Comment by Marina Reijsmeijer (Kleierij) on May 27, 2017 at 2:12am

I have used this method for years after reading about it in Robin Hopper's The Ceramic Spectrum (2nd edition page 187). It is indeed very useful.

Comment by Louise Buth on May 23, 2017 at 8:54am

Thanks for a very useful idea! I'll share it with my fellow clay enthusiasts at SACA in Arizona! It's very clever & so wonderfully low-tech!


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