Glazing – it’s all in the preparation

Glazing – it’s all in the preparation

So much about glazing is about first getting in the right frame of mind: the ‘glaze’ state. I need to be focused and undisturbed. This doesn’t mean being isolated, more that others around me need to be equally absorbed in something. Good music that triggers certain emotions is a great boost. Currently I’m listening to rousing beats that raise my energy levels, pumping up a sense of joy. By the time I pick up the brush to glaze it’s as if I’m driven from within. The ‘in the moment’ sensation this brings means I cease to worry about the results. This fluidity of creativity leads in turn to a heightened sense of awareness. Thinking too much about what I’m doing can result in over-working the piece. I have learned that too much consciousness can lead to a forced, overly precious approach. As with all art, it’s important to know what to leave out as well as what to allow in.

Before I start glazing I choose my glaze colours and spend quite a bit of time thinking about which will predominate. I consider which glazes combine well. If I am using more than one type of glaze on any piece then I need to think about matching the firing temperatures. If I am firing to different temperatures I need to plan which glaze to use first.

When applying glazes to a ceramic piece they invariably appear totally different un-fired. If I am working with a new glaze then I will lay the glaze test tiles on top of the glaze pots so I know which colour corresponds to which glaze pot. I then put out the glaze pots and all my brushes so they are easily accessible once I’ve started. I rehearse, in my mind, how I think I will physically glaze the pieces.

Once I’ve started applying the glaze I like to work right through without breaking the flow. I usually don’t stick rigidly to plan, but I feel it helps to have thought it through beforehand. When I am trying out new glazes I have a specific book where I record the glazes that I am testing and the results of the firing. 

I note the date, the firing temperature, the part of the kiln the test was fired in and what piece the test was for.

Once my ceramic piece is out of the kiln I usually like to ‘rest’ it in the studio for a few days, considering it a while, allowing the piece a little time to reveal its true beauty to me. This is especially so if I am working with a new glaze or making technique. If I don’t start to love it I have to discard it or re-work it - perhaps another glaze application.

Even though application of the glaze is the fastest part of the process it is, to me, the most exciting and creative part. I love the spontaneity and energy that goes into this creative process.