Arts & Crafts

Waxes and Glaze

Adding the finishing touch to a piece of pottery is a celebratory moment. Pieces being dried can crack, or the first firing can break a pottery piece that might have taken hours to create. For those who have gotten to the point where they are ready to choose a glaze for a specific effect, mixing waxes and glaze on a piece can create something new and different. While they may be a bit hesitant at first to use this method, it can become a favoured way of using glazes to create new and different designs.

Many glazes will tend to melt and flow during the firing process. This can cause issues for those who have chosen one or more glazes to finish their project. The movement of the glaze is uncontrolled in the kiln, and even reading the label to select the correct temperature may not be completely satisfactory. Variations in some of the formulas could make even the right temperature a bit off.

Waxes are generally used to keep glazes off of the bottom of a piece when it is being fired. If a glaze does migrate that far, it can stick to the shelf in the kiln. Taking it off can break the piece, and cleaning the shelf is always difficult for the artist who forgot to use enough wax to ensure that particular scenario did not occur.

One of the more interesting ways to use wax is to cover specific areas of a piece where glaze should not be present at all. The wax creates a barrier between the bisque and glaze, and that will present the artist with a clear area to create a different surface. The wax and glaze portion of firing could be the final finishing for the piece, or the artist could select a different glaze to add another coat on the untouched areas. It may create a piece that has both a matte and shiny finish.