Potters use a variety of techniques to glaze their ceramics. One of these – Dip glazing – is a beginner-friendly way to apply Glaze to your ceramics.
So, what is Dip Glazing? Dip Glazing is the process of dipping pottery in a glaze batch for about three to five seconds. It’s one of the fastest ways to glaze ceramics with even layers, but potters also use it to create a base for other finishing techniques. You don’t need special skills to be successful with dip glazing, because you only need to Dip the whole piece.
Potters who mass-produce Ceramics prefer this method because it only takes seconds to coat bisque ware. However, it will take practice if you want to use this method to create multiple layers of Glaze or create more depth when designing Ceramics.
There’s a lot of room for creativity when Dip Glazing, but you need to be familiar with the basics of this technique. Without knowing how Glaze works and how you can use it to its full potential, you might end up wasting a lot of bisque ware and glazes.
Basics of Dip Glazing
Dip glazing is precisely like what it seems; you immerse a piece of pottery in a glaze batch. There’s nothing magical about it, but what you do with this method can create exceptional depth with your craft. It’ll dry quickly, and with the right thickness, you’ll have even coverage.
Before you dip any of your Pottery in Glaze, make sure that it has a clean surface. If you’re planning to keep some parts free from Glazes, such as the bottom and some design elements that you want to emphasize, brush on Wax Resist to create a protective coat.
Stir your Glaze Mixture thoroughly and often because the glaze particles don’t stay suspended in water for very long. After a few short minutes, they start to float to the bottom. You’ll want to stir the glaze often to get the best results. Your Glaze should have the consistency of heavy cream.
Any imperfection or inconsistency with your Glaze will reflect in the final product. The thinner your mixture is, the longer you need to Dip your Pottery. Doing this ensures that it stays in place long enough for you to Fire it.
How to Setup Glaze from Powder
Setting up glaze from powder is easy, but you need to be sure that it’s the mixture you want for your Pottery. Dip glazing will require you to use large containers filled with Glaze, so whatever mix you work on, you’ll be using it for a lot of Pottery.
There are different ways on how you can setup Glaze from powder, but we suggest that you start with the baby steps. Once you familiarize yourself with it, you can proceed with mixing additives to create more depth with your design. Below are the steps that we recommend you follow when setting up Glaze from powder:
- Before opening the bag of glaze ALWAYS WEAR A DUST MASK. It is also a good practice to wear rubber gloves. Pour your Glaze powder into a container with clean water. It should be large enough to Dip your Pottery and have enough Glaze to cover your pieces when Glazing.
- 5 pounds of Dry Glaze needs a half a gallon of water (You will need to check the label because every Glaze is different. You will want to use Distilled water for the best results. It would be best to slowly pour in the water while stirring until you achieve your desired consistency for the glaze.
- Stir the mixture thoroughly to minimize lumps. We suggest that you use a stirring stick first to let powder mix thoroughly, then use a Drill and Mixer.
- It’s best to let the Glaze settle overnight. If you can’t then mix your Glaze for at least 15 minutes with a Drill and Mixer
- Stir thoroughly and often. The glaze is the finishing touch for all your ceramics, so it needs to be perfectly smooth.
- If you need to thin your mixture, slowly add water while stirring until you achieve the consistency that you want for your glaze.
The amount of glaze that you prepare doesn’t matter because your glaze will last a very long time if it is not contaminated. If the liquid glaze settles out at the bottom of the container. Just mix it again really good with a drill mixer and add water if you have to. For more information read my short article on How long Glaze Lasts and How to Dispose of it.
When dealing with a thin glaze mixture, you can add small quantities of a 10% Soda Ash or Sodium Silicate. Keep stirring and add more Soda Ash until your glaze goes back to its normal behavior, or you’ve reached the consistency that you want for your Pottery.
Dipping Your Piece
Once you have the right consistency for your Glaze, and you prepared your pieces correctly, it’ll only be a matter of layering or applying other finishing techniques to achieve the design that you want.
Many Potters hold your pieces when dip glazing, but using tongs tend to give you the best consistency and even coating. When using tongs make sure you place them in the most solid and secure area of your Pottery. Because you have to clamp down firmly with the tongs you don’t want to crack or even break your piece.
When dipping your piece in the container you don’t want to plop it in and have the glaze splatter up. You will want to place it in the container like a ladle or soup spoon and be careful not to hit the sides. You can also pour the glaze in your mug and twist it as you pour the glaze back in the bucket, then dip the outside in the bucket.
Techniques for Dip Glazing
Dip Glazing is one of the first finishing techniques that you’ll learn in pottery, but there’s more to it than dipping and firing. A lot of new potters didn’t know that they can combine Dip Glazing with other finishing techniques to get the most out of their Ceramics design.
Dip Glazing only prepares your Pottery for intricate details. The type of Glaze, together with the ingredients that you’ll use for it, will depend on how you want to finish your piece. Here are some of the essential tips that you can use when Dipping:
- The larger your pots are, the larger your Glaze Container should be if you want to create an even coating for your Ceramic. It would be best if you keep its thickness as thick as a T-Shirt.
- Your mixture should be free from Binders and Gums if you want the glaze to dry out faster. However, if you’re going to create multiple layers and different effects to your pottery, then adding binders and gums in your mixture will keep the Glaze suspended in place longer.
- Gummed Glaze works best when it has ample amounts of super-fine particles to bind. If you’re planning to use Binders for Dip Glazing, we recommend that you mix your Glaze with some Bentonite Additions.
- When trying to create a dripping effect on your pottery, using bentonite additions can make the process easier and your design more candid. Glaze with the right amount of bentonite dries slower, making the dripping effect look more natural.
There’s no exact way on how you should dip glaze your ceramics because it’ll counteract its most significant advantage — being able to design it the way you want it. Dip glazing offers excellent flexibility, so much so, that no one can tell you the exact specifications for dip glazing.
The only thing that you need to work on is the mixture of your glaze and keeping it at the right consistency. If you’re planning to use different glaze to create layering on your ceramics, it would be best to have separate containers for each. It’ll make dip glazing easier and more scalable, allowing you to work on large amounts of ceramics at the same time.