Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Keep Calm and Glaze On

My glazing method requires many, many layers of underglaze to be applied many, many times. Last week I  finished putting the first coat of underglaze on most of my summer work and fired a kiln load of this work. The last few pieces had underglaze applied this week and will be fired tomorrow.

a kiln shelf of work with the first layer of underglaze applied.
The first layer of underglaze usually consists of two or three contrasting colors highlighting different surface areas or textures. Each color of underglaze must be applied in at least three even coats to prevent streaky results after firing.
The first three layers of underglaze (light blue, red and light grey (on sprigs) on this base.

Usually I apply three or four coats to the background then wipe away any accidental color on the sprigs before carefully applying the second set of three coats to the sprigs. I repeat the process for bulbs or other raised surfaces and small details.

The second layer of dark blue has been applied and washed away from the highest areas. The second layer of yellow has been partially washed away. 

After the initial bisque firing, the first underglaze layer is permanent and won't wash away when I apply the second layers of color. The second layers of color will be wiped away so they only need to be applied thickly in the lowest areas where they will remain. I use a wet sponge to wipe the surface areas of the background first and later the raised sprigs.

These piece, once underglazed, sprayed with a clear glaze and fired again, will be attached together with bike parts.

Sometimes I need to go back and add coats of underglaze to a fired area that was smeared by neighboring colors. On the multipart piece above, I accidentally dripped dark blue underglaze on the red bulbs. The blue didn't wipe away evenly, so I will reapply several layers of red to avoid a streaky look later.

These wall pieces were shown with their first glaze layers in last week's post

One challenge is that the work might look okay before firing if there are only two layers, but the streaks and irregularities will show up after the clear glaze coat has been applied. 

A bunch of brushes and a bunch of underglaze jars (Amaco and Duncan mostly).

When I glaze all day and all week, I end up with many jars of underglaze arranged on all available surfaces. I have a ridiculous quantity of brushes, but I manage to use most of them when glazing a bunch of work. Since the underglaze doesn't damage the brushes, I let the dirty dried up brushes collect for a day or two before washing them together (this year I try to save them for my studio assistant to clean).

dirty brushes, soaking

I won't be able to finish all the summer work before the quarter begins. I have some other responsibilities that need to be addressed at work and at home before I go back to campus for convocation next week. I am hopeful that I will have at least one more kiln of glazed (not just underglazed) work finished by the end of the month or before classes start.

Most of these bulbs have a partial application of a second layer of underglaze.

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