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airbrushing on glazed surfaces

updated thu 3 feb 11


Dan Saultman on tue 1 feb 11

I would like to airbrush some velvet-type low fire glazes on existing
glazed pots.
However I would also like to spray over them with a clear coat so
that the finish is closer to the semi gloss finish of the existing
I have done this on tile using a heat gun to heat the tiles between
airbush applications.
It worked pretty well, except the texture of the glaze when fired had
a fine sandpaper texture to it. This happened because as the glaze
hit the hot surface it settled as particles without any binder to
help it smooth out or flow. The sandpaper texture was fixed by wet
sanding them - The low fire glazes had fused nicely onto the surface
so that they were not damaged by this sanding. CMC gum didn't work
for a binder - it diluted the glaze so much that I didn't follow it's
application further.
I have found that a lot of commercial glazes have an aggressive
binder as part of the formula - perhaps there is not a worry.

Has anyone had a successful method of airbrushing low fire glazes on
glazed ware?

Many thanks,

Dan Saultman
In Detroit where we are awaiting the imminent historical snowfall.

James Freeman on wed 2 feb 11

On Tue, Feb 1, 2011 at 7:07 PM, Dan Saultman wrote:

Has anyone had a successful method of airbrushing low fire glazes on
glazed ware?


I have some experience spraying low-fire glazes atop already glazed and
fired work. Here is an example, a cone 04 or 06 crawl applied atop a cone =
glazed and fired piece: (sorry, not a
very good photo).

Here is an example of a cone 06 glaze applied atop a fired cone 6 lichen: (the lichen is
on the lower, greenish half).

In reading your post, and perhaps reading too much between the lines, I
think you are just getting the already fired piece too hot, as I do not hav=
the problem you describe (Note: I used home-made glazes with no binders).
I used to use an electric heat gun as you describe, but now use a propane
torch, as it is significantly faster. The object is not to get the piece
hot so that the glaze dries and sticks as it is sprayed. Rather, you apply
the glaze quite wet, and it remains so until you dry it with your heat
source. I'm not sure if that is clear, so here is my process by way of

I apply a first VERY thin coat to the already fired piece using a Critter
spray gun ( This coat will not cover
very well at all. It sits right on the surface, and will look like it want=
to run right off. I immediately dry this very wet and thin coat with the
torch by playing the flame over the surface while I rotate the pot on a
banding wheel. When this first coat is completely dry, I spray another ver=
thin coat, and repeat the torch-drying. As the thin coats build, the
already applied and dry base will be able to absorb some of the water from
subsequent coats. The result is that each successive coat can be applied,
and builds, a little thicker than the previous ones, and they start to appl=
more like they would over bisqueware, though you will still need to
torch-dry between coats. I test the applied thickness via judicious poking
with a needle tool. Note that this is a slow and tedious process. The
piece will be rather warm from the torch, but cooled by the wet glaze, so i=
never gets truly "hot", as you describe.

Note too that my method also works if one wishes to re-glaze already fired

I hope this helps. Good luck with your project.


James Freeman

"...outsider artists, caught in the bog of their own consciousness, too
preciously idiosyncratic to be taken seriously."

"All I say is by way of discourse, and nothing by way of advice. I should
not speak so boldly if it were my due to be believed."
-Michel de Montaigne