Glazing is the best way to add shininess and color to a pottery piece. There’s a large variety of techniques to glaze pottery, the most common of these being brushing and dipping. Both of these methods require their own tools and materials.
So, can you brush on dipping glaze? Yes, you technically can, but it may not produce the ideal results. Commercially prepared brushing glaze contains additives like CMC gum (brushing medium) that helps you brush the glaze on clay, while most dipping glazes are free from it. Dipping glazes are generally thinner than brushing glazes.
Taking a closer look at the differences between the two glazes will help you understand and decide if you want to use dipping glazes for brushing. Let’s learn about some of these key differences while answering popular questions related to this topic.
What Is the Difference Between Brushing and Dipping Glazes
Here’s a list of key differences between using commercially produced brushing and dipping glazes.
Commercially produced brush-on glazes contain additives such as veegum or Arabic gum. These help the glaze stabilize and stick better to the bristles of your brush and layer on top of pottery. They also contain added preservatives if the gum is organic, making them last longer.
Dipping glazes are generally thinner than brush-on glazes. With Dipping, pottery needs to be easily sunken into the glaze to get a nice, even coat, hence why dipping glazes are thinner.
Whereas brushing, you apply at least two, generally three coats of glaze. Otherwise, a brushed texture will show.
Since brush-on glazes are thicker, they can leave a texture or streakiness mainly because of the bristles. This is the nature of the method and not your fault.
Dipping glazes are thinner, and you’re not brushing, so they don’t leave a texture after being coated multiple times.
Brush-on glazes are formulated to stick to brushes and are mainly used with them. Brush-on glazes have many more uses than dipping glazes. Dipping will mainly give you a single, base layer of solid color.
Brushing can give you a base layer, patterns, and textures depending on the style of application and the number of layers. Brush-on glazes can be used for dipping, with a sponge, sprayed on, poured on, and so on.
For more tips on glazing read: 27 Glazing Tips for beginner potters
Should I Glaze My Pottery by Brushing or Dipping?
There is no particular answer to this very common query. Some people find brushing glazes easier, while others find dipping easier.
You would think that beginners mainly start with dipping first as it’s a relatively simple process. All you have to do is pour your glaze into a large bucket and sink the object inside it for 4-5 seconds using tongs. Let the piece dry, and you have a nice coat. You can go in several times. Dipping is done mainly when you need a solid coat with a single color.
Beginners actually start more often with brushing. Even if it seems a bit more advanced. It is still easier than trailing or spraying. Brushing is great for creating designs and applying the glaze over clay.
You can also add a base coat with brushing. Even though there are more trials and errors involved in this method as compared to dipping it’s still popular with many potters.
In short, dipping is recommend when you want an even glaze coat all around the pottery piece and brushing when you want to create texture, patterns, and cool designs.
Best Brush-On Glazes
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These are cool glazes. They contain speckled glaze colors, having tiny crystals that move and melt during the firing process to give outstanding results. These Mayco Jungle Gems Crystal Glazes can be fired all the way to cone 5. The higher you fire, the more it runs.
To be safe, keep crystals away from the bottom edge. This set is non-toxic and free from lead, but it isn’t dinnerware safe. It’s easy to apply and can be used by beginners.
Spectrum Floating Glaze
This is a great glaze. It floats over your pottery and floats down the rim of your pottery also. Goes on very easily and leaves a shimmery finish. You can use this glaze on top of other glazes to give your pottery a unique look.
This Spectrum Floating Glaze can also be applied over plain pottery to enhance the clay color. They are non-toxic and safe for dinnerware. The glazes are best used on bisque-fired clay.
AMACO Potters Choice Lead-Free
This glaze set by Amaco contains six glossy colors, including indigo float, frosted turquoise, iron lustre, umber float, toasted sage, and deep firebrick. The colors can be applied separately or layered together. Different colored coats can also be applied in different areas.
These glazes are fired at mid-range (Cone 5-6). I fire them to cone 5 with great results. They are also non-toxic and safe for dinnerware. These AMACO Potters Choice glazes are best used on bisque-fired clay.
Here are some glazes for you to check out at Top Glazes that you would like.
You can not brush glaze without some good brushes. You can also check out my Top picks for glaze brushes.
Can You Convert a Dipping Glaze Into Brushing Glaze?
You can convert commercially produced dipping glaze into a brushing glaze, but you’ll have to make an additive solution. The main reason behind it is that you can not simply add gum or Suspendaid to a dipping glaze.
Glazes used for brushing consist of 1-1.5% gum. To achieve this proportion, you’ll first have to get rid of 20% water. Otherwise, the glaze slurry would end up with too much water content. Starting from scratch or buying a new pack of brush-on glaze are much better options that value your time and money.
There are dipping Glazes That do contain the same ingredients that give the dipping glazes the same stability as brush glazes like Coyote glaze.
How to Make Brushing Glaze Additive
This is an advanced method. Only potters with a good amount of experience in mixing materials dabble in making their own glazes. Homemade glazes are cheaper to make when mixing in bulk, while commercial glazes are cheaper when you’re buying in small amounts. Generally speaking, professional potters opt for homemade glazes while hobbyists prefer commercial glazes.
To make one pint (453.6g) of brushing glaze, you’ll require 100g (3.5oz) of 7% gum solution like Laguna, 500g (17.6oz) glaze powder, and 250g (8.8oz) water. This creates a compound with high specific gravity. It will thicken on standing and can be diluted per preference.
You can add it to dipping glazes too. Add varying quantities of this mix and test fire different pieces because each brand has a different formula.
You can also make a homemade glaze and add a small amount (1-2%) of this mix into it. Homemade glazes can be made using 10% Wollastonite, 15% Flint, 25% Kaolin, 20% Feldspar, 30% FRIT 3134, and 3-5% color oxide (depending on your need).
In this article, we learned the difference between a brushing glaze and a dipping glaze. Yes, you can use dipping glazes for brushing with a few small adjustments.
Since dipping glazes are already thin, you can’t make them thicker by simply adding gum or reducing them. Thickness is needed; otherwise, the glaze won’t properly brush on.
With that said, now that you know the differences and what you can and can not do with brushing on dipping glazes, have fun glazing your beautiful Pottery.