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Ceramics 101

Semantics in Ceramics

It has come to our attention that many new ceramists are confused by some of the words in our 'ceramics language'. They think applying a clear glaze over an underglaze is using an overglaze. Or they think they need to apply clear glaze over a colored glaze to 'finish' it. We thought we would try to help clear up the confusion and help everyone understand how important it is to use the proper words when asking for help with a product.

Underglaze - Painted on greenware or bisque, this product goes UNDER the glaze, hence the name underglaze. On greenware the piece must be fired to cone 04 before glazing. On bisque, apply clear glaze over the underglaze and fire to 06.

Glaze - Painted on bisque either on its own or over an underglaze. This can be a colored glaze covering an entire piece of bisque or a clear glaze covering an underglaze. After application glaze is fired to cone 06. A clear glaze which is applied over an underglaze is called clear glaze, not overglaze! And, you do NOT need to apply a clear glaze over a GLAZE to 'finish' it.

Overglaze - This is a special third fire product, which is applied OVER your fired glazed ceramic item. You should not apply Mother of Pearl or fired Gold over unglazed bisque. Overglazes fire to a cooler cone temperature than glazes. The cone used varies with the product so be sure to read the instructions carefully before beginning.

It is so simple once you know - underglaze goes under a glaze, as the name implies. Glaze is applied to bisque. Overglaze is a special product that is applied over your fired glaze then fired to a special lower cone.

If you aren't sure about a product, read the label. It will say if the product is a glaze or an underglaze, it will explain application and even tell you what cone to use for firing.

If you have any questions about other confusing ceramic words, or if this didn't clear it up for you, please let us know and we'll include the explanation in a future newsletter.

Glossary - Ceramics 101

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