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Liner Glaze


It is common to glaze food surfaces of utilitarian ware with a brilliant glossy white or transparent glaze called a 'liner glaze'. This is done to avoid releasing in-glaze or on-glaze metallic colorants to food or drink (which could leach them away and be a health hazard). Liner glazes can be applied in such a way that they meet the outer glaze at time rim (the technique to do this is described in a separate article). Denby China is a company quite skilled at doing this. It is common to simply add colorants, opacifiers and variegators to liner glazes to produce the decorative glazes using on the outsides are ware.

Considerable efforts are required to produce a white or glossy glaze whose fired surface is durable to wear-and-tear and resistant to leaching and yet works well in the production process. Colored and reactive glazes usually hide imperfections very well, but a transparent glaze makes crazing, micro-bubbles in the matrix, clouding, boron blue, tiny surface dimples and other imperfections plainly visible. Liner glazes can also be colored (if they are well tested and demonstrably non-leaching). Amber glazes, for example, make more visually appealing liners for dark burning clay bodies. Colored and opacified liners also do hide some imperfections better, this is important if the clay is less processed.

Liner glazes often need to be paired with specific clay bodies (or a family of bodies), primarily because different bodies have different thermal expansions (this is especially so the lower the temperature). Sometimes, the same glaze will work on different bodies, but one or more require a specific firing schedule. The liner should be thermal stress tested to be sure it will stay uncrazed over time (the 300F:Ice-water test for crazing, the Ice-water-to-boiling-water to test shivering).

Matte glazes can also be used as liners, but special effort and expertise are needed to produce a matte surface that is still silky enough to resist cutlery marking and staining. This is easiest to do at higher temperatures. Mattes produced using MgO as a mechanism are the most common.

Liner glazes are used in large quantities and need to have a slurry that stays in suspension. They need to apply to the ware in a smooth even coat, dry quickly and be durable to handling. Until now, in small industry, pottery and hobby pottery circles, clay body manufacturers have left it up to users to formulate their own liner glazes. But increasingly, users are realizing that manufacturers should take on the responsibility to supply reasonably priced pre-mixed powdered/liquid liner glazes for each of their clay bodies (or at least recommend recipes and firing schedules).

Another reason why liner glazes are simple common sense is that you can more easily see when a cup needs to be washed. In addition, although a piece might not be crazed out of the kiln, if crazing happens over time, it is easier to see this glaze is white or transparent.

Please read the "Base Glaze" glossary page for examples of base glazes for each temperature range.

Outside tenmoku glaze meets inside transparent in a straight line at the rim

Outside tenmoku glaze meets inside transparent in a straight line at the rim

An example of how a liner glaze can meet another at the rim of a piece. This it quite simple to do. The technique is especially practical where mug walls are thin and cannot absorb enough water to dry the glaze after immerse-dipping. It is essential where the outer glaze is potentially leachable, or it might craze (which tenmokus often do). Thus, that straight line at the rim is not only a decorative element, it is the spot where leaching, crazing, staining and cutlery marking stop.

Three cone 10R mugs that have the same liner glaze.

Three cone 10R mugs that have the same liner glaze.

The liner is G2571A dolomite matte.

This leaching mug needs a liner glaze. Seriously!

This leaching mug needs a liner glaze. Seriously!

Three cone 6 commercial bottled glazes have been layered. The mug was filled with lemon juice over night. The white areas on the blue and rust areas on the brown have leached! Why? Glazes need high melt fluidity to produce reactive surfaces like this. While such are normally subject to leaching, the manufacturers were able to tune the chemistry of each to make them resistant. But the overlaps mingle well (because of the fluidity), they are new chemistries, less stable ones. What is leaching? Cobalt! Not good. What else? We do not know, these recipes are secret. It is much better to make your own transparent or white liner glaze. Not only can you pour-apply it and get very even coverage, but you know the recipe, have control, can adjust to fit your body.

Out Bound Links

  • (Glossary) Food Safe

    In recent years potters and small manufacturers have become aware (or have been forced to become aware) that ceramics and pottery are not as inert as they once thought. A variety of potential health impacts exist to users of ware they make. These include flaking off of glaze chips (that could be ing...

  • (Glossary) Transparent Glazes

    A fully transparent glaze is simply one that does not have opacity. But there are degrees of transparency. For example, if a glaze is matte it will show the color of underlying body and decoration, but these will be muted (so it is actually translucent). Completely transparent glazes look like a gla...

  • (Tests) IWCT - 300F:Ice Water Crazing Test
  • (Tests) TSFL - Thermal Shock Failure

In Bound Links

  • (Articles) How to Liner-Glaze a Mug

    A step-by-step process to put a liner glaze in a mug that meets in a perfect line with the outside glaze at the rim.

  • (Videos) Liner Glazing a Stoneware Mug

    There are decorative and functional reasons to glazing the outside and inside of mugs as a separate operation. First, liner glazes are far less likely to leach harmful things into food or drink. Liner...

  • (Glossary) Base Glaze

    A base glaze is one having no opacifiers, variegators or colorants. Thus it should be transparent if glossy and translucent if matte. Developing or adapting a base glaze for your ware is a very important first step in developing a manufacturing process that produces good quality. In fact, from a qua...


By Tony Hansen




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