Dip Glaze Pottery

Pottery teacher holding pot over glaze bucket demonstrating to students
Hill Street Studios/Getty Images
  • 01 of 04

    Why Dip Glaze

    Coil pot with underglazes with dipped clear glaze on exterior and honey-colored glaze on interior.
    Beth E Peterson

    Why should you want to try dip glazing? Dipping your pottery has several advantages:

    • Dip glazing is one of the fastest methods of glazing pottery.
    • Dipping gives an even coating of glaze.
    • Done with care, the interior of the pot is left unglazed, allowing a different glaze to be used on the inside without overlaying the glazes.
    • You can completely control the amount of time that you leave the pot in the glaze for, thus determining the strength of the final color.

    Dipping is generally most useful if you have a large quantity of pottery that will use the same glaze. The glaze is mixed in a bucket, which facilitates the amount of glaze, the glaze displacement as the pot is lowered into the glaze, and the movements used to flick excess glaze off the rim.

    Continue to 2 of 4 below.
  • 02 of 04

    Begin to Dip-Glaze Pottery

    Pot about to be dipped into glaze
    Beth E Peterson

    Dip glazes are more fluid than glazes used for brush application. A dipping glaze should be about the consistency of heavy cream. Make sure you stir the glaze slowly and thoroughly before using it. Also, ensure that there are no air bubbles in it before you dip your pot in. The pot will be suspended into the glaze for approximately three seconds to allow the proper amount of glaze to coat the pot. You can leave in for less time if you want a thinner coat of glaze.

    Before starting your glazing, read Before You Glaze for basic preparations and safety tips.

    Using either your fingertips or dipping tongs, hold the pot so that the pot's mouth opening is level. In the photo, we're using a clear glass to hold the glaze so that you can see that the pot's opening is parallel to the surface of the glaze. Note the level of the glaze in the glass and how it will change from this picture to the next.

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  • 03 of 04

    The Glazing Dip

    Pot being dipped into glaze, showing proper positioning
    Beth E Peterson

    Using a single, fluid motion, lower the pot two thirds to three-quarters of the way into the glaze, keeping it level. Do not allow the pot to touch the bottom or sides of the bucket or container since this can rub the glaze coat off.

    As you can see from the photo in the prior page, the glaze level has risen substantially. In fact, I cannot dip this pot further, or the glaze will overflow the pot. This underscores one of the reasons why using a bucket with plenty of room is important when dip glazing pottery.

    The pot stays down in the glaze for three seconds for a normal glaze coat, during which time it is important to keep the pot level. Air is trapped in the pot, keeping the glaze from entering the interior space. If the pot tips, air will be able to escape and glaze will coat some to all of the interior surface.

    Once the pot has stayed in the glaze long enough for a good coating, it needs to be removed the same way it went in: perfectly level. After the pot has cleared the glaze completely, flick off any excess glaze by quickly rotating your wrist one way then the other while continuing to keep the pot's rim parallel to the glaze surface. The motion used is as if you were opening and closing a screw-top lid, only done very rapidly.

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  • 04 of 04

    After the Pot Has Been Dipped in Glaze

    The interior of the pot will not be glazed if the dip was done with the pot's opening level.
    Beth E Peterson

    Done in the way described, the glaze will be on the pot's rim and outer surface, and the interior of the pot will be glaze-free and ready for a contrasting glaze to be applied. (This is often done by pour glazing.) Gently smooth any rough or bumpy areas with a finger, once the glaze has dried.

    Once you have mastered the basics of dip glazing, you are ready to explore the many variations which can be done. For example,

    • you can dip the pot so that one side goes in (which will coat both interior and exterior), then dip the pot into a different glaze.
    • by varying the length of time of the dip, you can change the thickness of the glaze coat. With some glazes, this can give differing surface and color effects.
    • overlap dips using different glazes, such as dipping all the way down for most of the exterior of the pot and then dipping the neck into a second glaze.

    The variations are nearly endless and offer a wealth of interesting effects to explore.