To achieve that perfectly decorated ceramic object, pottery glazing can involve a myriad of tools, supplies, and a number of intricate steps to follow. But how do you pick and choose the items you need for your glazing process?
This pottery glazing tools and supplies guide highlights the tools you require during the various steps of glazing. From protective gear: gloves, apron, and goggles, to the tools of the trade like brushes, spray gun, and dipping tongs and the must-haves like underglaze, overglaze, and wax resist.
In this article, we’ll talk about these and more tools and supplies while outlining the steps to take when glazing your ceramics to produce beautiful works of art. Let’s go.
Don’t have time to read the full article? Here’s a quick rundown of the essential pottery glazing tools to get you started:
- Dipping Tongs
- Drill Attachment
- Banding Wheel
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Glaze Safety Equipment: Goggles, Mask, Gloves, etc.
Before handling any ceramics or equipment in your clay studio, ensure you are safe from any harm. Have your personal protective gear ready to use whenever you need them.
An apron offers an extra layer of protection to keep your clothes shielded from dirt. And what is more, aprons with pockets are quite convenient since you can keep some of your tools on you while working.
Revco F9-36SL 36″ 9 oz. Flame Resistant Cotton Split-Leg Bib Apron is a potter’s apron that seems to work the best. Its split-leg design with adjustable leg straps ensures you’re well-shielded at the front. The apron is also made of flame-resistant cotton.
As a potter, wearing a mask is important for protecting your lungs from inhaled clay and glaze dust and glaze spray mists. That’s why you should wear one when sanding and grinding off the Glaze, or mixing dry Glaze.
The Reusable Half Face Cover, NASUM M101 Face Cover is one great mask since it’s comfortable to wear and seals well. This mask comes with replacement parts for your convenience, which includes: one pack of the half-face cover, two filter boxes, four filters, and two plastic covers.
As you protect your hands from glaze, wearing gloves also serves to keep oil off of your ceramics. Oil, even as little as the one on your hands, can prevent proper attachment of glaze on bisque ware. You can keep a pack of Disposable Latex Gloves, Powder Free in your studio for easy access whenever you want to change.
You may also need a pair of thick, heat-resistant gloves for use when unloading the kiln. Jolly Green Products Ekogrips can do a great job in this case. You can use this pair of gloves to also handle sharp objects, like pieces of broken pottery.
Protecting your eyes using a pair of safety goggles can save you from harm or irritation caused by dust particles. There are certain instances where a potter shouldn’t forgo the goggles:
- When mixing dry glaze in preparation for glazing
- When spraying on glaze
- During sanding and grinding off of excessive glaze and cookie removal
In these situations, a lot of glaze dust particles will be flying around. Using a pair of DEWALT DPG82-11/DPG82-11CTR, for example, can give you high-level protection for your eyes.
Glaze Preparation Tools: Sponges, Wax Resist, etc.
Now that you have all your personal protective equipment ready for use, the next step is preparing your ceramic objects for the glazing process.
Here are the tools and supplies you’ll be using at this stage of glazing your ceramics.
Sponges are used to wipe the ceramic clean. For glaze to adhere to your ceramic properly, the object should be clean and free from dust particles.
Here are sponges used in hand building and when throwing on the wheel.
Since you’ll be wiping the object frequently as you continue with glazing, it would be best to have a number of sponges available for use. A pack of several sponges will do the trick. Also, visit What Are Sponges Used for in Ceramics. When crafting Pottery you can never have too many sponges. Sponges can be used for applying and decorating glazes to produce a unique end result of your glaze. Check out how to do that in this video:
How to Sponge Glaze Pottery
This is a liquid wax emulsion used to prevent glaze from sticking to specific parts of your ceramic.
The base of the bisque ware, for example, should be coated with wax resist to prevent the ceramic from sticking to the Kiln Shelf during firing. Secondly, apply wax resist to any areas that will come in contact with other separate ceramics while in the Kiln, for example, the lid rims.
The wax resist can also be used for decorating the bisque ware. Apply it to the desired area on the ceramic using a brush. Amaco Wax Resist – 16oz Bottle is one of the wax resists that produces great results.
Glaze Supplies: Glaze, Additives, etc.
You can prepare your own glaze or buy it ready-made from a ceramics store. Glaze preparation includes weighing the glaze, sieving, and mixing.
Using the following materials, to get to work preparing your glaze.
Glazes and Underglazes
Glazes and Underglazes are the main decorating ingredient in Pottery Glazing. They come in different colors and have various properties. You can go for a matte finish, a flat appearance, or a shiny glaze. Glazes can be food-safe (ideal for decorating tableware) or otherwise.
For a more in-depth look into the different types of Glazes, head over to our Best Glazes Page. There you’ll get an overview of what to look for when buying glazes and a list of glazes you may want to choose from.
Suspendaid is used to thin out your brushing glaze and make it more like a dipping glaze. This glaze additive also helps prevent the settling of glaze. The one on the market is Amaco Suspendaid.
Glaze Measuring Tools: Scale, Cups, Spoons, etc.
A measuring cup is used to measure additives and the glaze itself. There are different types of measuring cups you can easily buy at a store near you. But in case you’re wondering which one to get, just go for the Good Cook Measuring-Cup, 4-Cup. It’s quite sturdy and has clear measurement markings that hold up well.
Measuring spoons are a good addition to your Pottery Studio. A set of different sizes, like Measuring Spoons: U-Taste makes measuring and mixing small portions of glaze additives much easier. The engraved size on each metal handle ensures they will never fade or become illegible.
This is another tool that’ll come in handy during pottery glazing. A scoop assists with measuring out the dry glaze and dry glaze ingredients. Rubbermaid Commercial Feed Scoop, 6 Ounce, Clear works well for this purpose.
A weighing scale can be used in place of measuring containers to get the actual weight of, for example, dry glaze. Some potters even use the scale to measure the specific gravity of their glaze mixture. You can check out My Accuteck Ship Pro. Digital Scale
Glaze Mixing Tools: Bowls, Drills, Buckets, etc.
Buckets are a must-have in your ceramic studio. You can use them to mix the dry glaze, store up your wet glaze for later use, and for dipping large ceramic pieces. A 2 Gallon Bucket & Gamma Seal Lid is a good size and ideal for storage because of its screw-on lid, which ensures it’s airtight. You can also get a larger size, the 5 Gallon Bucket & Gamma Seal Lid.
Potters also use bowls to mix smaller amounts of glaze. These wide and shallow containers can also serve you well when dipping tiny ceramics like mugs and decor pieces. You can see the item clearly as you dip its sides into the glaze.
You can also use a bowl when glazing using the pouring technique. Position the object on a rack and place it on top of the bowl so that as you pour the glaze over the ceramic, you can catch the excess and still be able to reuse it later. The Large Acrylic Mixing And Serving Bowls can be used for this purpose.
When mixing small amounts of glaze, a spatula would be the best for stirring. An OXO Good Grips Medium Silicone Spatula is a great option. Its one-piece seamless design makes it sturdy so it can’t break easily and is easy to clean up. The silicone material is also smooth, so no fear of scratching your bowl when scrapping glaze from the bottom and sides.
For easier mixing, whisks can be better for preparing your glaze than spatulas. Take, for example, the OXO Good Grips 11-Inch Better Balloon Whisk. Whisking can also produce a more even glaze much faster.
Strainer or Sieves
To achieve an even and smooth glaze consistency, pour the glaze from the mixing bucket through a sieve or strainer into a second bucket. Using a rib or other tool, push the clumps through the strainer. You’ll also be able to catch and discard any debris from the glaze this way.
The IPOW Set of 3 Stainless Steel Fine Mesh Strainers come in a set of 3 sieves of different sizes so you can use the ideal size depending on the amount of glaze you need to sieve.
Once you’ve mixed your glaze or slip, you can measure its specific gravity using a hydrometer. Note the measurement for the ideal mixture, depending on the technique you plan on using to decorate. With this, you can achieve the same level of thickness each time you make your glaze, that’s why using a hydrometer is so convenient.
Thermco ACC8541PC Plastic Specific Gravity Hydrometer is a plastic hydrometer with glass-like clarity and is shatter-proof. You can try it out during your next glazing session.
A funnel is a simple yet helpful tool. Use it for pouring glaze while preventing spilling. Nopro Plastic Funnel, Set of 3 is a basic set of differently sized funnels that you can use.
You can use a drill to help in mixing glaze and produce a smooth and even glaze. You just need to secure a drill bit in place and begin using it to mix your glaze. Black+Decker 20V Max Cordless Drill is a rechargeable drill that’s comfortable and efficient to use.
Join the drill attachment to the tip of the drill above and use it to mix the dry glaze. Check out Edward Tools Paint and Mud Mixer for drill.
Glaze Mixer Pint Bottle Mixer
Grunen Wolken Milk Frother Handheld is a mixer that can be used when preparing glaze to reach the desired consistency and create an even mixture.
Glazing Work Surfaces
To be able to comfortably work on your pieces and create your desired decorations by glazing, a spacious work surface is essential.
Your work table should be at a comfortable height so that you’re not hunching over when working or straining to reach your objects if the table is too high.
If you prefer a lightweight table that’s easily portable, check out the Deluxe 6 Foot x 30-inch Fold-in-Half Blow Molded Folding Table.
Adjustable Height Tabletop Riser
This is like a stand-alone desk whose height you can adjust according to your preference. When placed on top of a table, you can glaze your pottery sitting down or standing up. Such convenience and flexibility are great, especially when working on your ceramics for a long period of time.
FlexiSpot Height Adjustable Stand-up Desk Riser is a great option to achieve this kind of setup. It’s easy to adjust the height using just a single handle. And its work surface is spacious enough so your pottery can fit.
This is another surface you can use for applying the glaze. The wheel surface can spin, so it’s easier to turn and reach different sides of the pottery to glaze.
Glaze Application Tools: Tongs, Brushes, Tape, etc.
With your bisque ware and glaze ready, now you can begin the glaze application process. There are a number of techniques to use and several tools as well that can make your work easier while producing beautiful decorations.
For each technique, there are a number of tools you’ll need to use:
For the dipping technique, you need a pair of dipping tongs. These help you hold the ceramic in position as you dip it into the glaze. The tongs I use are the Actopus Dipping Tongs Glazing Tools for Pottery Ceramic Polymer Clay Glaze.
Brushes are a must-have in your clay studio. These come in handy on different occasions. You can use brushes to apply wax resist to your pottery or use them to apply the glaze. To achieve different looks, use a variety of brush types and designs.
For further information on brushes, check out our Best Glaze Brushes page.
Glaze Bulb Applicator Squirt or Trail
For a more fine-detailed and linear decoration on your bisque ware, a glaze bulb applicator is what you need. AMACO 18 Gauge Underglaze and Mixed Media Applicator is one ideal applicator. It is of high quality and remains airtight, so your underglaze won’t dry out in the middle of your glazing.
Slip Trailing Applicator
A slip trailing applicator is used to apply slip for decoration. If you’re a fan of slip trailing and enjoy creating decorative lines and raised textures, get yourself a 3 oz Blue Xiem Applicator or the smaller 1oz Red Xiem Applicator. It’s lightweight and comes with three applicator tips of different gauge sizes so you can vary your designs.
For more information on ways to use Applicators go to Tips for Slip Trailing and Glaze Trailing to get some fun decorating ideas.
Glaze Spray Gun
This is used to apply glaze and underglaze using the spraying technique. Central Pneumatic has one of the best spray guns. Get one if you want to try out spraying or are already a pro at it.
To power a glaze spray gun, one can use an air compressor. This power tool creates pressurized air and pushes it to amplify the force of the spray from the gun.
For a portable, lightweight, and quiet air compressor, use the California Air Tools Air Compressor.
Spray Glazing Booth
A spray glazing booth is used for safety purposes. It helps to contain the glaze particles, especially during spraying and prevents the particles from floating around the room. But even with this booth, you should still wear your other personal protective gear, e.g., a mask, gloves, and safety goggles.
Master Airbrush Brand Lighted Portable Hobby Airbrush Spray Booth offers convenience because it’s portable and so can be moved to whichever spot where you’re doing your glazing.
Transfer or Stencil Paper
You can use these transfer and stencil papers to come up with more designs to decorate your ceramics. Wangday Carbon Paper, Large-Size Black Graphite Transfer Tracing Paper comes in a pack of 200 sheets and works great for this kind of decorating technique.
Masking tape is a great tool for decorating bisque ware. The tape acts as a resistor, so the area masked does not catch the glaze. You can create interesting patterns this way on your ceramic objects.
Another benefit of using masking tape for decorating is that it’s found in most stores—for example, Blue Painters Tape. You can get your multi-size pack and use it to expand your creative designs.
Glaze Firing Equipment
With your bisque ware well decorated with glaze, your next step is firing the glaze.
You can use your own kiln if you have one or rent space at publicly accessible kilns near you. This will take at least 24 hours, depending on the kiln size and how full the load is.
Thinking of getting your own Kiln? To get more information before you decide, read this article Choosing an Electric Kiln
Glaze Removal Tools
You’re now almost done. Here are the supplies you may need for the final touches of your pottery glazing.
Wheel Attachment Grinding Stone
To grind and smooth out the bottoms of your ceramic pieces, a wheel attachment grinding stone does a great job. The Diamond Core Tools 12″ Diamond Grinding Disc is especially preferred because its diamond grit has a higher hardness rating than even silicon carbide abrasive.
When using a grinding stone, always remember to observe all safety precautions like wearing goggles. Also, use the stone with water to maximize tool life and minimize the amount of dust flying around.
Handheld Rotary Tool Glaze Removal Grinder
This tool is the best for grinding off sharp edges of your ceramics. You can also use it to remove cookies and grind off glaze on the bottom of objects. It’s quite convenient to use, comfortable, and safe. The TECCPO 12V Rotary Tool Kit is one tool grinder that performs quite optimally. It also comes with an 80-piece accessory set. Watch my Youtube video about grinding off glaze to see how well a handheld grinder works.
Pottery has quite the collection of tools for various processes. When looking for tools and supplies for your pottery glazing, consider the steps you’ll be taking from start to finish. Get tools that will assist in making your work easier and achieving your desired designs.
Equipment that makes up your personal protective gear is a must-have, so you can ensure your safety. Then get the tools that are essential for preparing your bisque ware and items for measuring, mixing, and applying the glaze. And finally, have tools for firing and making the final touches to your ceramic.
With that, I hope you enjoy your pottery glazing process.