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5 Tips for Working with Metallic Overglaze

This post was made by Lora Olivieri of Piece of Mind Pottery. If you’re interested in posting on our blog, shoot us an email!

It’s no doubt that gold is super “in” right now. I’ve seen a huge influx of orders for pieces with gold accents. People love the shiny finish! Admittedly, I’m a sucker for it too. I’ve experimented with different types of glazes to get this effect – high fire, low fire, non-fire. The trick is consistency with the finish as well as making sure the pieces are food safe. You can go the traditional gold leaf route, but who wants to spend that kind of time?

I’ve found that the Duncan Precious Metals Overglaze is an awesome product and can be used in a variety of ways to get that shiny gold everyone is swooning over. This overglaze is applied as a third firing. So, you bisque your piece, glaze fire it and then apply the luster to the piece. The first step is to decide if you want a shiny finish or a matte finish for your gold or silver accent. For a shiny finish, make sure you glaze your piece with a very shiny, high-gloss glaze. The gold will be super shiny, almost like a piece of real 24 k gold. For a matte finish, glaze with a matte finish glaze. The gold comes out more of a bronze when you do this.

Applying overglaze is fun but tricky. I find myself praying a lot to both the Glaze Gods and the Kiln Gods when I am working with it on my pieces. I’ve had a lot of blunders, but through it all have found a few tried-and-true tips to make sure the end product comes out beautifully 90% of the time (as we all know, nothing is ever 100% guaranteed when you are working with glazes and ceramics).

Overglaze Tip 1

Prep the area where you want to apply the overglaze with rubbing alcohol and let it dry completely before applying. Do not touch the area after prepping as adding any oil or other elements from your skin could corrupt the area.

Overglaze Tip 2

Use a very clean brush for application – and pick a brush that will only be used for applying the luster overglaze. I like Duncan brushes. You don’t want to contaminate the brush with other chemicals and elements from other glazes. This is a sure fire way to ruin the piece. When you are done with this overglazing session, be sure to clean your brush thoroughly with Duncan Essence Overglaze Cleaner. It’s a lifesaver!

Overglaze Tip 3

Apply only one coat of the overglaze if you can. If you need to go back over an area, do so immediately when the glaze is still wet. Once it dries, it will clump up or rub off, creating holes in the finish. I’ve also found that it turns to a dusty matte finish if you do this. Single, uniform strokes are best to achieve the opaque and shiny finish. Too little glaze will produce a purple finish, and too much will chip off or crack. It’s an art and a science and you need to play around a bit to get it just right. Test, test, test!

Overglaze Tip 4

Do not touch the underglazed areas after you’ve applied it. Any added oils or elements from the environment will corrupt the finish.

Overglaze Tip 5

Immediately fire the pieces, do not let them sit around with the underglaze on them. I’ve tried both ways – letting the glaze cure for a long period of time and firing when still wet. Your best bet is to get them into the kiln when they are just dry, not super wet but not long after they’ve dried.

I fire my gold accent pieces to cone 018, and it only takes about 4 to 5 hours. It’s super important to vent your kiln during these firings for the entire time. Keep a peephole or two open as well as crack the lid if you don’t have a kiln vent system.

And the hardest part – let them cool completely before you open that kiln!

As always, be sure to read the labels very carefully. I wear a respirator if I am working with it inside as the fumes can be quite harmful. Be safe and happy firing!

14 thoughts on “5 Tips for Working with Metallic Overglaze”

  • Jason | http://yahoo.org

    I really like what you guys are usually up too. This kind of clever work and coverage!
    Keep up the excellent works guys I've incorporated you guys to our blogroll. http://yahoo.org

  • Jason | http://yahoo.org

    I really like what you guys are usually up too.
    This kind of clever work and coverage! Keep up the excellent
    works guys I've incorporated you guys to our blogroll. http://yahoo.org

  • Jason | http://yahoo.org

    I really like what you guys are usually up too.
    This kind of clever work and coverage! Keep up the excellent works
    guys I've incorporated you guys to our blogroll. http://yahoo.org

  • Jason | http://yahoo.org

    I really like what you guys are usually up too. This kind
    of clever work and coverage! Keep up the excellent works guys I've incorporated you guys to our blogroll. http://yahoo.org

  • Beth | #

    Are metallic overglazes food safe? I'm thinking of using it on the interior of a tea mug. Would that be safe for eating and drinking (I know not for the microwave)?

  • Charlotte | #

    When you say working with it inside, do you mean that you need to wear a respirator just to apply the overglaze?

  • Elisa | #

    This might be a dumb question but is there a specific kind of clay/glaze that I should be using for this? Do you have any recommendations on white clay body?

  • Liz | http://www.etsy.com/shop/lizjohnsonpottery

    This is an excellent article, thanks for sharing your knowledge. Just starting to work with these and it's always good to learn from others first.

  • Rhonda Wade | #

    What can I use to clean around an area that I have painted with gold paint. Or if I want to clean off that area and want to wipe it off and repaint over it.

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