Big Ceramic Store Blog

Waxing Your Pots For Glazing

Some of us get really creative with glazing, some of us don't... either way, waxing the bottom of your pots is essential.

Earlier this week we talked about bisque firing, so today we'll go over what to do with your pots once they come out of the bisque. Steps need to be taken to get them ready for glazing and the glaze firing. Waxing the bottom (or where they may touch a kiln shelf) is one of those steps, and making sure your shelf has been washed with a good quality kiln wash is another.

Although many potters have their own unique way of waxing, I'm going to stick with a few of the basic methods I use in this post.

Grab your coffee and follow me to the studio for some helpful tips!Let's start off by talking about the most common uses for wax/wax resist.

  • Repels glaze/underglaze
  • Design work
  • Layering glazes
  • Slower drying of areas like rims, handles and sprigs

Ready to start waxing? Gather some supplies and your bisque fired pieces and place them on a clean work surface.

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The next thing you want to do is check the bottom of your pots for burrs and rough spots. Using a coarse grit sandpaper, sand off any problem areas, then finish it off with a fine grit paper. Dampen a sponge and wipe away the dust left behind. Remember to wear a dust mask or respirator when sanding as the dust contains silica and can be harmful if inhaled.

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A few options to apply the wax or wax resist

  • Brush it on the bottom and slightly up the side

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  • Place your piece on the potters wheel or banding wheel and slowly spin while applying the resist

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  • Melt canning wax in an electric skillet and dip the piece into the wax. This method produces a symmetrical line of wax, but use caution due to the heat and potential fire hazard if left unattended or overheated

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Tips:

  • Be sure your hands are clean and free of dust, oils or lotions before picking up bisque ware and throughout the waxing process. If your bisque piece gets wax or oils on it, the glaze may not adhere to that area
  • For easier cleaning of your brushes, dip them in soapy water or fabric softener before using wax resist
  • Paint the tips of your waxing brushes and keep them separate from your other brushes, they should not be used for any other purpose once they've been used for resist
  • Add food color to your resist, making it more visible when applying to your pot

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  • Use Aftosa Black Resist for decorative lines and designs under or over glaze/underglaze
  • For a clean decorative line, place your piece on a banding wheel or pottery wheel and spin it slowly while adding the resist
  • Candles, lipstick, crayons, shellac, and other water repellant products can be used for detail and design

Share your comments or email us at bcscommunity@bigceramicstore.com with ideas/suggestions for our blog.

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