Glaze trailing is kind of similar to slip trailing. Both of these fun drawing techniques use trailers and other tools to create freestyle patterns on pottery. Glaze trailing is the perfect technique for artistic individuals to create gorgeous patterns on pottery!
But what exactly is glaze trailing, and how do you use it to draw on pottery? Glaze trailing is basically a method of creating glaze-on-clay and glaze-on-glaze artworks. The lines you draw using glaze move, melt, and absorb into the surface. You can use glaze trailing to create stunning floral, abstract, and nature artworks on pottery.
Glaze trailing is an awesome pottery technique to learn. If you want to learn how to Glaze trail with an applicator read on.
Glaze Trailing Basics
There are a couple of things you have to keep in mind when glaze trailing. First, you need a tool like a slip trailer, which is basically just a squeezable bottle with an aperture tip.
To fill the applicator with Glaze either pour it in or suck it up by turning the applicator upside down then squeeze and release until the applicator is filled with glaze. Then you can start creating any pattern you wish.
Always use contrasting colors when glaze trailing on a glaze base because the lines aren’t raised like slip trailing. You can also test-glaze different combinations first.
Glaze trailing can be a bit tricky, especially if you’re applying glaze-on-glaze. You shouldn’t expect the ideal outcome on your first couple of tries, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll fall in love with this masterful technique of decoration!
Now that you understand the basics, here’s a simple guide to glaze trailing.
Glaze Trailing Guide
Glazes used for trailing need to be thicker than their average consistency. When fired, the glaze you’ve trailed flattens out and spreads a little. If you’re drawing an intricate design, it’s better to glaze-trail on a bisque-fired surface before you apply the main layer of glaze.
To glaze trail on glaze apply three coats of base glaze and let dry before applying your trail glaze.
Use an applicator to apply your design.
Before applying your glaze test your applicator on another surface to see how your glaze is flowing out of the applicator.
This plate was glazed with three coats of Amaco Obsidian and trail glazed with Amaco Arctic Blue.
Create any design you want with glaze-on-glaze trailing.
The glazes can be applied in different ways to achieve the desired result. You can apply lines, dots, squirts, circles, swirls, your imagination is the limit.
This plate was decorated with two coats of Amaco Clear glaze then trail glazed with Amaco Firebrick and Smoky Merlot.
Using similar glazes is more common in the application process, as they’re easier to layer, give the same texture on melting, and don’t cause difficulties during Trailing. However, there’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to trail glazing. Very different glazes can be used to achieve various textures and rich results.
Best Glazes for Trailing
Amaco Potters’ Choice Classroom Packs
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The tools listed in the post are tools I have used or am using at the present time. The tools are also optional, being that you may have, and use many of them already.
Potters’ Choice Classroom Pack 4
This Amaco Potters’ Choice Classroom Pack 4 (amazon) or (blick arts) contains Glazes that give you a shiny finish. It includes Umber Float, Indigo Float, Iron Lustre, Deep Firebrick, Frosted Turquoise, and Toasted Sage. These shades can either be used individually or mixed together to produce various effects. You can make some unique patterns and designs with these glazes. They are also non-toxic, dinnerware-safe, and easy-to-use.
Potters’ Choice Classroom Pack 2
This Amaco Potters’ Choice Classroom Pack 2 (amazon) or (blick arts) Set gives your pottery a stunning, shiny finish. It has a nice consistency on various textured surfaces. You can use these vibrant colors for direct application on clay body, or you can layer them over other glazes. Like the original classroom pack, they’re dinnerware-safe, non-toxic, and easy-to-apply.
The set contains 6 glazes, including Textured Turquoise, Chun Plum, Ironstone, Seaweed, Lustrous Jade, and Saturation Gold which are also great for glaze trailing.
Amaco Celadon Glaze Classroom Packs
Amaco Celadon Glaze Classroom Pack 2
This Amaco Celadon Set (amazon) – (blick arts) or (walmart) offers a bigger selection ranging, packing 12 celadon glaze shades. These are more on the transparent side, so they’re better for trailing in which you want the background glaze to pop more. The Obsidian and Snow glazes are great for base coats when glaze trailing. You can mix the glaze colors however you want.
You’ll receive great glossy coverage with vibrant colors and vivid accents. I found Amaco glazes to work very well for glaze trailing.
Like our other picks, this glaze set is non-toxic and dinnerware-safe.
Dry glazes are top picks for potters who like to stock their studios. They aren’t affected much by the weather when stored away and cost less than liquid glazes.
Dry Glaze Trailing Tips
Dry glazes also don’t need to thicken to be used in glaze trailing. You can just add less water when dissolving!
To use dry glazes as a base, you need to dissolve around 10lbs in 1 gallon of distilled water. This yields 1½ gallons of regular consistency glaze.
To use in glaze trailing, add about 5 cups less water. Or you can take out water on the top before mixing to get a thicker glaze then replace the water when you’re done.
Amaco Dry Glazes
Amaco has a great selection of dry glazes. Here are a few reasons why they are more preferred:
- These dry glazes have great coverage when dipping.
- Dry Glazes come in a 2-gallon bucket for you to mix and store your glazes in.
- They work well for both glaze-trailing and as a background
- You can tint, shade, and create your own personal colors.
- Are food ware safe and certified non-toxic after adding water.
- You are easily able to make large or small batches
- 1 – Marigold – 10lb Dry (blick arts)
- 2 – Obsidian – 10lb Dry (blick arts)
- 3 – Snow – 10lb Dry (blick arts)
- 4 – Deep Firebrick – 25lb Dry (blick arts)
Coyote Dry Glaze is Another popular option.
Coyote Dry Glazes, are some of the best dry glazes you can buy, for a number of reasons:
- Coyote provides an excellent selection of colors and textures to choose from.
- They also work well for both glaze-trailing and as a background.
- You won’t have to mix them very often.
- They are composed of the same ingredients as wet glazes.
- They’re amazing for layering and mixing.
- They are non-toxic.
You can purchase any color you’re looking for from their website.
Glaze Trailing Tools
Xiem Lightweight Precision Applicator
This Xiem Precision Applicator (amazon) or (blick arts) gives you great precision when decorating pottery. It’s easy-to-use and clean as well. The applicator set includes the following items:
- A 3oz bulb
- Four applicator tips (20 gauge, 18 gauge, 16 gauge, 14 gauge)
- One nickel-plated connector
- Instruction manual for cleaning and use
Creative Hobbies Multi-Purpose Precision Applicator Super Assortment Set
This Multi-Purpose Precision Applicator Set (amazon) offers 8 different size tips that you can switch between depending upon the need of stroke size. The applicator can be used for glaze trailing, slip trailing, and painting. The set includes these tools:
- Four squeeze bottles (1oz each)
- Two lock caps for an applicator tip
- Eight size tips (22 gauge, 21 gauge, 20 gauge, 19 gauge, 18 gauge, 16 gauge, 15 gauge, 14 gauge)
- Four solid caps for glaze storage inside the bottles
- Instruction manual for cleaning and use
Potters are always looking for different ways to glaze. Glaze trailing is fun and easy to do once you get the hang of it. The designs you can create are endless. All you need is an applicator and a little imagination. You can make larger bolder patterns with glaze trailing or thin and more intricate. I’ll bet you can come up with some cool designs.