So, you’re a potter looking for a way to create interesting effects to your pottery. Can you layer underglaze to create a more dynamic look?
Yes, you can layer underglazes, and many potters do. If you are looking for a way to add more depth and aesthetic appeal to your pieces, layering underglazes is a great option.
One of the main challenges potters face when layering underglaze is not knowing how many layers to apply. Another challenge that potters face is not knowing if they can layer different brands or colors of underglaze together.
I understand that layering underglaze can be challenging, but don’t worry, I’m here to help! In this article, I’ll cover what you need to know about layering underglaze, from how many layers to apply to whether or not you can mix different brands or colors together.
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How Many Layers of Underglaze Should You Apply and Why?
When it comes to layering underglaze, the correct number of layers is important to achieve the desired look. Too few layers and your piece may not have the desired effect, while too many can lead to cracking or a rough surface.
The number of layers will depend mainly on the number of layers, thickness, and brand of the underglaze.
A general rule of thumb for layering thicker underglaze (consistency of yogurt) is 2 to 4 layers.
If you would like to layer more than 4 layers of underglaze it is best to experiment with test tiles because some underglazes can crack if applied too thick.
Thinner Underglaze (consistency of heavy cream) can allow you to get more creative with layering. The thinner underglaze allows you to apply anywhere from 2 to 5 layers to achieve a transparent or more opaque look.
Like watercolor painting, if you apply Watercolor Underglazes, you can apply more or fewer layers to achieve the desired result.
Lighter color underglazes may call for more layers, while black underglaze may call for less because it’s a nice solid color.
I have found with most underglazes, 1 to 2 layers of underglaze will be more transparent, and 3 or 4 layers will be more opaque.
If you are unsure how many layers to apply to greenware, it is always best to start with fewer, and you can add more layers after your First Fire as needed.
How Long Should Underglaze Dry Between Layers?
As you add layers, it’s important to allow each layer of liquid underglaze to dry completely before applying the next layer. This will help to prevent smudging, flaking, and inconsistency. How long it takes for the underglaze to dry will depend mainly on the thickness of the Underglaze and the Stage of Clay.
On bisqueware, the first coat dries pretty fast. You can add your next layer as soon as it’s dry to the touch. After applying the second layer, you should wait longer. A half-hour to an hour is good.
When you are applying underglaze to wet or leather hard clay, you will need to wait longer because the clay is still wet or damp. You may have to wait an hour or more. Once the underglaze is no longer shiny and dry to the touch, you can apply the next layer.
Can You Layer Different Color Underglazes?
Yes, you can layer different color underglazes. In fact, many potters do this to create some great creative looks. By layering different colors of underglaze, you can achieve a variety of different effects.
For example, you can apply a base coat of underglaze to the entire piece, then add a second, third, or fourth color to layer intricate designs over the first layer.
It’s important to make sure that each layer of underglaze dries completely before applying the next one. This will help to prevent smudging the other color or colors underneath.
Different Ways to Layer Underglaze
There are many ways you can layer underglazes. Here are a few fun ways to Layer your Underglaze:
Brushing on Underglaze:
One of the best ways to layer underglaze is with a brush. By using a brush, you can achieve painterly effects.
There are many different brushes you can choose from. The type of brush you choose depends greatly on the effect you want to achieve.
It’s best to have Different Size Brushes to choose from for different projects and effects.
Sponge on Underglaze:
You can use different Shaped and Textured Sponges to layer different colors of underglaze in random or deliberate patterns.
I like layering with sponges; they create interesting patterns and textures. To learn more about sponge glazing, go to How to Sponge Glaze.
Applying underglaze with stamps is a really fun way to layer. Stamps are great for adding texture and patterns. You can find stamps made specifically for clay, or you can use rubber stamps.
Experiment with different sizes and shapes of stamps to create different looks. You can also make your own stamps to create an interesting pattern.
Underglaze Applicator Bottles:
You can layer underglaze designs with Reusable Squeeze Bottles. Choose your underglaze color and fill your applicator bottle.
You can also use Mayco Designer Liners to write more detailed work. This is a great way to achieve different line thicknesses.
Pouring on Underglaze:
Pouring underglaze is a great way to get a marbled effect. You can pour different underglaze colors onto your pottery and then use a toothpick or other tool to swirl the colors together. The marbled effect with pouring should be done on greenware( preferably leather hard stage) because the bisqueware will absorb the underglaze and dry too fast.
Spray on Underglaze:
You can also Layer Underglaze by Spraying It On. This is a great way to create some cool effects. You can spray on lightly or add more texture with different layers.
There are many different ways you can layer underglazes. You can even combine different methods like this Video on Sponge and Speckle. Choose the method that best suits your project. Have fun and be creative!
What Can Happen if Underglaze Is Layered Too Thick?
The underglaze can crack when fired or create a rough surface if you apply too many layers.
If the underglaze is too thick, it may also be difficult to get a smooth finish. It’s best to build up the layers gradually.
Start with a thin layer and then add more as needed. If you want a thick, raised look on your piece, it’s best to experiment on test tiles first.
Can You Layer Underglaze Over Slip?
Yes, you can layer underglaze over slip. In fact, many potters choose to do this in order to achieve a more striking look.
It’s best to apply the colored slip first to greenware because slip is made up of colored clay and can flake when applied to bisque ware because slip does not contain Frit. You can apply the underglaze layers to the slip both on greenware or after the clay slip has been bisque fired. That is one of the wonderful benefits of using underglazes.
What Stage of Clay Is Best to Layer Underglaze On
One of the great things about underglaze is that you can apply it either on greenware (unfired) clay bodies or bisqueware (clay fired for the first time).
The main difference between layering underglaze on greenware vs. layering on bisqueware is that with greenware, the clay has not been fired yet. This means it’s much more fragile and needs to be handled with care.
Bisqueware, on the other hand, has already been fired once. As a result, the clay turns into a strong and porous ceramic material.
Layering underglaze on wet clay doesn’t work very well. Because the clay is still wet, you can only apply a single layer and the underglaze will quickly start to blend in with the wet clay.
This is fine if you want to achieve a certain look, but if you want to apply more layers you would have to wait for the underglaze to dry. Especially if you use different colors because the colors will blend and could turn muddy looking.
Layering Underglaze on Plastic Clay
You can begin to layer underglaze while your clay is still moist (when you are hand building). Similar to wet clay that has just been thrown on the wheel you can apply one layer, but the underglaze will not start to bring up and blend with the wet clay. Once the underglaze has dried you can add another creative layer.
Layering Underglaze on Leather Hard Clay
Layering underglaze on Leather Hard Clay is a great way to add dimension to your piece. By applying the underglaze while the clay is still leather hard, you can add more layers in the bone dry stage and in the bisqueware stage.
It’s also important to make sure that each coat of underglaze dries completely before applying the next one, or the underglaze will not layer properly.
Layering Underglaze on Bone Dry Clay
Bone dry clay is the stage of clay when it is completely dry and no longer sticky. This makes it the perfect surface to layer underglaze on. In addition, by applying the underglaze while the clay is bone dry, the underglaze will dry faster between layers.
I have great results with layering on bone dry clay. The only drawback is having to be very careful handling the piece because it is at its most fragile stage of clay.
The benefit of layering underglaze on greenware is the ability to add more layers to your pottery after being bisque fired.
Layering Underglaze on Bisqueware
There are several advantages to layering underglaze. First, the underglaze dries faster when applied to a Bisqued Piece. Second, you are working with more durable pottery, making it easier to work with.
Finally, the first coat will absorb into the porous bisqueware and dry really fast. The next layers will take a little longer to dry but go on smoother.
Can You Layer Different Brands of Underglaze?
Yes, you can layer different brands of underglaze, because commercial underglazes have similar ingredients. In fact, I do this to get more of a color selection with different brands of underglazes.
And yes, you can mix different brands or colors of underglaze together. This can be a great way to create new colors or effects.
I have successfully layered Duncan concepts underglazes with Amaco Velvet Underglaze, Spectrum underglaze, and Speedball Underglazes. These underglazes all have similar properties making them compatible with each other.
While most underglazes brands have the same properties and are made to be compatible with each other. It is best to make test tiles to ensure your underglaze brands layer nicely together.
Can Underglazes be Mixed?
Many potters choose to in order to create a more varied unique look. By experimenting with different colors and combinations, you can find the right look for your piece.
What Are Some Tips for Mixing Underglaze Colors?
There are a few things to keep in mind when mixing underglaze colors:
– Make sure the colors are compatible with each other. You can test this by mixing a small amount of each color together and test fire to see if they interact adversely.
– Mix the colors thoroughly in order to achieve the desired shade.
– Be aware that the color of the underglaze can change once it is fired. This is due to the interaction of the underglaze and the clay body.
– Have fun and experiment! When it comes to mixing colors, go wild and see what you can create.
For detailed information, check out my Article on Mixing Underglazes.
Can You Layer Underglaze and Glaze?
Underglazes and glazes are two different types of finishes that can be applied to pottery. Underglazes are colors that are applied and layered before the glaze. Hence the word Underglaze to be applied under the glaze.
Because both materials contain different ingredients that might not get along too well in the kiln, it’s best not to layer underglaze over your glaze.
How Many Clear Coats of Glaze Do You Need Over Your Underglaze?
After you create your great layered underglaze designs, you will want to apply clear glaze over your underglaze.
Adding clear gloss glaze makes the color of the underglaze even more vibrant. It also puts a protective layer over the underglaze making it food safe.
You want to gently brush on 2 to 3 thin layers of Clear Glaze over your pottery. If you apply too much glaze on top of the underglaze, your glaze will turn out milky over the underglaze. I get the best results with two coats of Clear Glaze.
Dipping glaze is one of the easiest ways to coat your underglaze. As a result, you will have less chance of smuggling the underglaze.
By layering different colors of underglazes, you can create new and varied effects. It’s important to make sure each layer of underglaze dries completely before applying the next one in order to prevent smudging. Different brands of underglaze can be layered together to create different looks. However, it’s best to test them on a test tile first, to make sure they interact nicely. Experiment with layering underglaze on greenware and bisqueware to create unique pieces!