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  • Writer's pictureEfthimios Sifounios

Pottery underglaze

Pottery underglaze is a type of decorative technique used in ceramics. It involves applying a colored pigment or design to the surface of a piece of pottery before it is glazed and fired in a kiln. The underglaze is applied to the clay body while it is still in the greenware stage, before it has been fired for the first time.

Pottery underglaze
Pottery underglaze

The process of applying underglaze is relatively simple. Artists will use a brush or other tool to apply the underglaze to the surface of the pottery. The design can be freehand or applied using stencils or stamps. Once the underglaze has been applied, the pottery is then fired in a kiln at a low temperature. This is known as the bisque firing. After the bisque firing, the pottery is glazed, which is a glass-like coating that is applied to the surface of the pottery. The glaze not only gives the pottery a shiny and smooth surface, but it also protects the underglaze from scratches and damage. The pottery is then fired again in a kiln at a higher temperature, this time, the glaze will melt and fuse to the pottery surface, creating a glossy and smooth surface.

Underglaze is a versatile technique that can be used to create a variety of different effects. Artists can use a range of colors and designs, from simple patterns and geometric shapes to more complex and detailed illustrations. The underglaze can also be used to create a wide range of textures, from smooth and glossy to rough and matte. One of the main advantages of underglaze is that it is highly durable. The underglaze is protected by the glaze, which means that it will not fade or wear away over time. This makes it an ideal technique for creating functional pottery that can be used on a daily basis, such as dishes and vases. Overall, pottery underglaze is a decorative technique that can be used to create beautiful and unique pieces of pottery. It is a versatile technique that can be used to create a wide range of effects, and it is also highly durable, making it perfect for functional pottery.

Pottery underglaze is a technique that has been used for centuries, dating back to ancient civilizations such as China and Egypt. In fact, many ancient pottery pieces that have been discovered are decorated with underglaze designs. One of the most famous examples of underglaze pottery is the blue and white porcelain from China. The blue and white underglaze was first used during the Song dynasty (960-1279) and quickly gained popularity. The intricate designs and patterns that were created using this technique are considered some of the most beautiful and prized examples of ceramic art in the world.

In addition to blue and white, underglaze colors can come in a wide range of colors including red, yellow, green, black, and many more. The colors are created by mixing pigments with a liquid medium and then applied to the pottery surface. In addition to the traditional method of using a brush or other tool to apply underglaze, some potters use other techniques to apply underglaze, such as screen printing or decals. Screen printing is a method of printing an image onto a surface using a stencil and a squeegee. Decals are pre-printed designs on a special paper, which can be applied to the pottery surface. These methods are more efficient and make it easier to achieve more precise designs.

Underglaze can also be used in combination with other decorative techniques to create unique and interesting effects. For example, it can be combined with overglaze enamel colors, which are applied over the glaze after the pottery has been fired for the first time. This technique is known as overglaze enamel decoration. Overall, pottery underglaze is a rich and diverse decorative technique that offers an almost endless range of possibilities for ceramic artists. It has been used for centuries to create beautiful and functional pottery, and it continues to be popular today. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced potter, experimenting with underglaze can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience.


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