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Dipping Glaze

In traditional ceramics and pottery dipping glazes can be of two main types: For single layer and for application of other layers overtop. Understanding the difference is important.

Key phrases linking here: dipping glazes, dipping glaze, dip-glazed - Learn more

Details

Dipping (or pouring and draining) is the preferred method for single layer application of glazes inside functional surfaces. Drying can be quick and coverage even if the slurry has the right thixotropic behaviour and the formulation adheres to common sense recipe limits. Where large outside areas need to be covered with one glaze dipping is ideal. Quick drying requires minimal gum content, suspending and hardening happening solely because of clay in the recipe. This type of glaze is easy to make, recipes and the materials they call for are common.

Applying other layers over a dipping glaze (with no firings done between) does not normally work. A base-coat dipping glaze is needed, one that contains a binder (usually gum) to fix it well to the body and harden it on drying. Binders are much more effective if the glaze has plenty of super-fine particles for them to bind with (thus bentonite additions are common in gummed dipping glazes). These glazes dry slower, go on thinner, and drip a lot during draining.

On this website, most of the articles and reference material assume the making of single-layer type glazes not having gum (unless otherwise mentioned). We are dedicated to the understanding of relationships between a glazes material recipe and oxide chemistry with how it behaves in use, how it fires in a kiln and how it interplays with the body it is on. People most interested in this topic are making this type of glaze. Weekend warrior type potters are more interested in buying commercial bottled and gummed products and exploring all the colors and interactions of multilayering with them.

Related Information

Commercial brushing glaze on a non-gummed dipping glaze: Crawling


Non-gummed dipping glazes go on evenly and dry quickly on bisque ware (if properly gelled). But they only work well as a single layer. If you try to paint commercial gummed brushing glazes over them the latter will compromise their bond with the body, cracks will develop during drying and bare patches like this will result during firing. For multi-layering the base dipping glaze must be gummed (e.g. 1% CMC gum). It will go on thinner, drip longer and dry much slower, but that is the price to pay if you want to layer over it.

CMC Gum is magic for multi-layering, even for raw Alberta Slip


A glaze that cracks on drying was fixed

The glaze on the left is 85% of a calcine:raw Alberta Slip mix (40:60). It was on too thick so it cracked on drying (even if not too thick, if others are layered over it everything will flake off). The center piece has the same recipe but uses 85% pure raw Alberta Slip, yet it sports no cracks. It should be cracked much worse than #1. How is this possible? 1% added CMC Gum (via a gum solution) was added! This is magic, but there is more. It is double-layered! Plus very thick strokes of a commercial brushing glaze have been applied over that. Yet no cracks. CMC is the secret of dipping-glazes for multi-layering. The downside: More patience during dipping, they drip a lot and take much longer to dry.

Better to mix your own cover glazes for production?


Yes. In this case the entire outside and inside of the mug need an evenly applied coat of glaze. For hobby this makes sense. But in production cover brushing makes less sense. The right pail has 2 gallons of G2934Y base with 10% Cerdec yellow stain: $135. Cost of brushing jars with the same amount: $600+! And each jar logs 10-15 minutes painting time plus waiting between coats. The one in the pail is a true dipping glaze (unlike many commercial ones that dry slowly and drip-drip-drip). This one dries immediately after dipping in a perfectly even layer (if mixed according to our instructions). And a bonus: This pail can be converted to brushing or base-layering versions using CMC gum.

Can you brush a dipping glaze on to leather hard ware? No.


The body needs to shrink as it dries. Typical glazes have low clay content and shrink very little. So as the body shrinks underneath the glaze just flakes off. Brushing glazes contain significant amounts of gum, that gum bonds them securely to bisque ware, but not to unfired ware. As you can see here. the glaze bond with the body could not withstand the differential during drying.

Commercial glazes on decorative surfaces, your own on food surfaces


These cone 6 porcelain mugs are hybrid. Three coats of a commercial glaze painted on outside (Amaco PC-30) and my own liner glaze, G2926B, poured in and out on the inside. When commercial glazes (made by one company) fit a stoneware or porcelain (made by another company) it is by accident, neither company designed for the other! For inside food surfaces make or mix a liner glaze already proven to fit your clay body, one that sanity-checks well (as a dipping glaze or a brushing glaze). In your own recipes you can use quality materials that you know deliver no toxic compounds to the glass and that are proportioned to deliver a balanced chemistry.

Think the idea of mixing your own glazes is dead? Nope!


These are two pallets (of three) that went on a semi-trailer load to a Plainsman Clays store in Edmonton this week. They are packed with hundreds of bags of powders used to mix glazes. More and more orders for raw ceramic materials are coming in all the time. Maybe you are using lots of bottled glazes but for a cover or a liner glaze it is better to mix your own. And cheaper! And there are lots of recipes and premixed powders here to do it. One of the big advantages is that when you dip ware into a properly mixed slurry it goes on perfectly even, does not run and dries on the bisque in seconds. No bottled glaze can do that.

I have 161 grams of stain. I need to mix it into how much clear glaze slurry?


Stain powders are expensive. I want to make as much glaze as I can from every gram of this red stain I have at hand. I have weighed a teaspoon of my clear glaze liquid slurry (recipe G2926B). I dried it out under a heat lamp and weighed it again (top left). I have filled those two weights, 8.9 and 4.74, into a spreadsheet I made. It calculates the proportions of water and powder in the glaze slurry. I have filled in "10" for the percent of stain needed. It is telling me I need to mix the stain into 3040 grams of the liquid glaze. That gives me about 5 pints of glorious bright-red dipping glaze. The dipping process enables me to apply it so much more evenly than I can do by paint-on methods (provided that I have the right specific gravity and thixotropy). And, I got this much glaze for about $50 worth of dry materials (vs. $20 for a pint of paint-on glaze).

Inbound Photo Links


Three containers of glaze slurry
Learn to mix any of your glazes for these three application methods

Transparent glazed mug and jar
The glaze cost on this mug is three times the cost of the clay!

Links

Glossary Brushing Glaze
Hobbyists and increasing numbers of potters use commercial paint-on glazes. It's convenient, there are lots of visual effects. There are also issues compared to dipping glazes. You can also make your own.
Glossary Base-Coat Dipping Glaze
These are ceramic glazes intended for dipping but which contain a gum to enable them to adhere to the body better and tolerate over-layers without danger of flaking or cracking.
Glossary Limit Recipe
This term refers to critical thinking ability that potters and technicians can develop to recognize recipes having obvious issues and merit, simply by seeing the materials and percentages.
Glossary Thixotropy
Thixotropy is a property of ceramic slurries. Thixotropic suspensions flow when you want them to and then gel after sitting for a few moments. This phenomenon is helpful in getting even, drip free glaze coverage.
Glossary Spray Glazing
In ceramic industry glazes are often sprayed, especially in sanitary ware. The technique is important.
Glossary Dip Glazing
A method of applying glaze quickly and evenly to pottery.
Glossary Glaze Layering
In hobby ceramics and pottery it is common to layer glazes for visual effects. Using brush-on glazes it is easy. But how to do it with dipping glazes? Or apply brush-ons on to dipped base coats?
By Tony Hansen
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