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My 10 Go-to Glazing Tools

Christina Goodall Pottery blog glazing post

Glazing might be my least favourite part of making pottery (okay, I actually hate it) and I often heard other potters say the same thing. Glazing can certainly be frustrating to say the least. You make this lovely clay vessel/object and then you fire it once, it survives and looks great so far but then you go and coat it in a glaze you think you know pretty well. Then comes that fateful day when you open the kiln and that glaze has dripped all over the kiln shelf; or cracked; or shivered or pin-holed or whatever. You internally scream because you spent hours on this and it has come out wrong. It’s so frustrating.

But I’ve come to know a few ways to minimise these frustrations. These are my 10 Go-to Glazing tools to help you out.

Glazing tongs

These are my go-to tools as I dip most of my ceramics. I have two different types, both are more suited to glazing certain shaped vessels.—Soft-Plastic-Grip-Handle/m-1075.aspx

Essential all-rounder for any pottery! Its all about quantity not quality with this one. I have so many cheap sponges in the studio because they are useful for every stage of making pottery. In glazing, I use them to clean up any spillage and also to wipe pottery bottoms (a MUST! even if they have been waxed) as you don’t want your lovely pot to be to come out of the kiln

Studio safety is essential! Dust inhalation is no joke! So a Respirator is a good investment in every pottery studio. During glazing, glaze dries quickly on bisque work and can cause dust in the air and spilled glaze should be wiped up while still wet to deter glaze dust in the studio. Glazes are made of glass and clay dust as well as metal

Wax and Latex

Essential if you want more control on how much of the foot ring is left unglazed. This might be extra important if you have a glaze that drops (and you want to save your kiln shelves!) Use wax or latex as a resist to resist your glaze and keep your foot ring clean. I find wax is better at resisting glaze but is near on impossible to remove from the surface if you apply a bit of a wonky line or accidental drip. Latex if applied too thin can tare or ripple to allow glaze through, this easy to fix with a damp sponge by just wiping clean. Also you can easily remove by peeling off.–Resist/m-148.aspx


New favourite tool! Really helpful to cover vessels that are too tall to dip glaze. To glaze the outside, I hold the vessel with my Glazing tongs upside down, ladle the freshly whisked up glaze over the ceramic back into the bucket.


Very useful for glazing the inside of vessels. Especially pots with a small neck or rim. Just place and ladle in your whisked glaze into the funnel. I fill about half the vessel, then while holding my pot slowly pouring the glaze out whilst also turning the vessel. This covers the the entire inside of your pot.

Slip trailers

These are great if you want to experiment with layering your glazes. I also use them to glaze any missed spots of fiddly pottery that can be sometimes hard to glaze like teapots.

Metal kidney

A cheap and very useful tool that every potter probably already has; this can also be used at the glazing stage of your pottery making. When dipping your pottery in glaze, it may have caused runs on your pot. Allow the glaze to fully dry and become powdery. Then take your metal kidney tool and lightly scrape the raised glaze run until it is even to the rest of the surface. Then gently smooth out with your finger.

Glaze stirrer

A easy and cheap option to stir up your glaze to disturb the heavier materials from the bottom. Mixing up all the ingredients so that all the ingredients (of different weights) are evenly dispersed throughout the glaze is very important so that you don’t use up lighter (weight) materials on the top and leave all the heavier materials at the bottom.

The only thing is, if you use glazes that sit heavier at the bottom you might want to instead go for a more industrial option of a drill and paint stirrer.

Drill and paint mixer

A more expensive tool but well worth it. This will thoroughly stir any glaze with ease in seconds. An investment would be to buy a good quality drill and then a cheap paint stirrer/paddle from any DIY store. My main piece of advice? Do not let your drill overheat.

Epsom Salts

Also known as magnesium sulfate. Can be used as an easily accessible and cheap flocculant.

The flocculent thickens the glaze, by charging particles so that they gel together and attract to each other. This helps all the components in the suspend in the water more easily. It also helps the glaze drip less easily and stay put on your bisque wares.

Use approximately 30g dissolved in 100ml of warm water.


Studio safety is essential! Dust inhalation is no joke! So a Respirator is a good investment in every pottery studio. During glazing, glaze dries quickly on bisque work and can cause dust in the air and spilled glaze should be wiped up while still wet to deter glaze dust in the studio. Glazes are made of glass and clay dust as well as metals that can be toxic if inhaled.

Let me know what your favourite tools are when it comes to glazing and maybe we can all start to enjoy glazing – maybe!

Many thanks for reading!

By Christina Goodall

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The 8 Stages of Clay

diagram showing stages of hydration and dehydration of clay for potteyr newbies

This is the 8 stages of clay before it even goes near the kiln. These stages are based on water content and this in turn affects the consistency of the material. Each stage has own it’s uses and techniques available. Clay is so varied in what you can make, and this is hugely due to the many stages of clay.


This is the stage when the clay has it’s highest water content. At this stage you can prepare it to pour into moulds to slip cast your pottery. I also use slip to attach handles to mugs as a clay glue and any other attachments. Whisking (I use a paint mixer and drill) the slip clay can stop the heavier sediment from sitting at the bottom.

Soufflé clay

I’ve added this extra stage to the traditional stages of clay. This stage has less water than the last and as the name suggests, imagine a sloppy kind of consistency like clotted cream (can you tell i’m from Devon?). I pipe clay at this stage and it just about holds it’s shape and texture instead of pooling like slip would. This is also the stage I would begin recycling clay by whipping it up into a smooth consistency and place on plaster batts to dry out for recycling..

Soft clay

Again this is the next stage of drying. The clay is too soft to throw at this point but it can be used to make hand-built coiled pottery. Also I like using this clay to smooth out the seam of handles to create a seamless attachment. You can also begin wedging recycled clay from the stage previous now on a plaster batt ready for the next stage.

Out of the bag soft/Plastic

You can finally throw with this clay! Weigh it out and ball it up to begin throwing. You can also roughly model sculptures with this clay but don’t expect to get much sculpted detail. You’ll have to wait for the next stage or use a heat gun to dry it out quicker.

Soft Leather hard

This stage is great for carving clay and creating textured surfaces. Now is also the time you want to trim a foot on the bottom of your thrown pottery and stamp your logo. Soft Leather hard is when you create lips on the rims of pots and attach handles using slip. It’s all about that score and slip technique with handles!

Leather hard

This is the last stage that you can do anything to change the form of your pottery. You can still add handles and also cut holes for things like plant pots. You can also use a needle tool to sign your name on the bottom now instead of a stamp. And you may want to also burnish your piece now, a kind of polishing technique; with the back of a spoon or a smooth pebble to polish and kind of seal the surface of your clay. This is also when my stoneware clay is at it’s darkest in colour; and it is also cold to the feel because of the water present.

Half dry

Nearly dry but I can tell it is not quite because the clay is still cold to the touch. You should look out for handle seams having cracks at this point as you will want to decide which ones go in for recycling before they all go in the bisque. You should allow to completely dry out before bisque firing (to save your kiln elements).

Bone dry

Room temperature to the touch because there is no water content making it cold. Now is the most delicate stage of the clay. Which is unfortunate because so much effort has gone into it by now! I commonly use two different decorating techniques on this stage; the first is water etching to create a raised image on the surface of the clay and second is I often paint underglaze on at this stage which will develop in the bisque firing. You can now place bone dry work in the kiln for bisque firing. Bone dry is also the best stage to soak unused clay to recycle, the clay quickly breaks apart and disintegrates in the water. This then goes onto to become slip clay and so the cycle begins again!

Comment and let me know what you think!

Many thanks for reading!

By Christina Goodall

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Pottery Pop-Up

My handmade pottery is on display in the pop-up window of Studio Nine in Totnes this week. A very exciting opportunity! From the 5th to the 10th April, I have the whole window to myself to display my handcrafted work, old and new, in all its colourful glory. So, if you’re a Totnes local – feel free to have a browse!

All the pottery shown is hand-thrown on the wheel by me from my studio in Torquay. And piped with wet clay using cake decorating techniques. The pottery is bisque fired, hand-painted with pottery stains and underglazes, waxed and readied for glazing. Finally, the ceramics are finished off by glazing in satin glazes, with a food safe clear glaze inside and glaze fired.

The work is displayed in 4 colour blocks – pink, peach, green and blue; as I thought this would look more cohesive. There is a mixture of products from candlesticks and candle holders, to Vases, to mugs and a teapot, to ring holders and jewellery jars.

The majority of the work is in my piped style; some with piped bows; frilly star shapes; climbing vines and leaves; shells and dots. Some pieces including mugs, vases and teapots have piped feet in the the style of claw feet (popular during the English Renaissance and forward) which raises them slightly.

Available work is (L to R): Green Heart Cut out Pillar Candle holder, Green piped basket, Piped Vines and leaves donut wall vase, (back) Green vase with piped rim, Green twisted handle piped feet mug, Green water fountain jewellery holder, (back) green tall footed dish with piped vines and leaves, green 3-piece piped incense oil burner, green piped tea-light holder, green piped top lidded jewellery jar, green vase with piped trellis vines and leaves,

(back) blue piped candlestick, blue twisted handle piped feet mug, blue piped ring holder, blue piped tea-light holder, blue piped tall footed dish, blue piped donut taper candle holder (holds 4), blue etched vase, (front) blue piped top lidded jewellery jar, blue berry bowl, blue piped vase with etched hearts and piped feet, blue piped rim vase, blue twisted handle piped feet mug

Available work is (L to R): pink tall vase with piped feet, pink twisted handle piped feet mug, pink piped top lidded jar, pink 3-piece piped incense oil burner, pink dumpy piped vase, pink tall vase/planter(with bulb plant), (back) pink piped vase, (front) pink piped donut wall vase, pink twisted handle piped feet mug, pink piped lidded frog vase, (back) pink vase with piped feet, (front) pink piped top lidded jewellery jar,

peach piped basket, peach piped bows and hearts pot, (back) peach vase with piped feet, (front) peach piped tea-light holder, peach twisted handle piped feet mug, peach piped ring holder, (back) peach piped frog vase, peach 3-piece piped incense oil burner, (front) peach piped dumpy teapot with twisted handle, (front) peach piped bow top lidded jewellery jar, peach piped incense plate, (back) peach piped rim vase

There have been some stunning displays of varying mediums and disciplines in this pop-up space. If you’re a local maker interested in displaying your work in Totnes, I would highly recommend following Studio Nine to see previous displays and details on future opportunities. It is a lovely space to showcase your wares from; and Lucie is lovely and very easy to work with!

If you’re interested in buying any of the pieces displayed please contact me here with details of which piece you would like to buy.

Comment and let me know what you think!

Many thanks for reading!

By Christina Goodall

Visit my Website –

Visit my Facebook –

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Browse my Porcelain Jewellery for sale –

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5 Cake Decorating Tools for Clay

Specialist pottery tools can be expensive and when you need a tool for every task in pottery making, price can quickly add up. So Cake decorating tools can be a good investment when many of them can so easily be utilised to decorate clay pieces and they are often cheaper in comparison. They can also be great fun to experiment with and produce a unique decoration on your clay creations! Amazon, Craft shops and local kitchenware providers are useful places to source these new tools.

Piping Nozzles

Piping clay is one of my favourite decorating technique, there is a variety of nozzles available but I recommend to buy a full set as it is helpful to experiment with as many as you can (and you will need the piping bags). One thing to consider is the added texture should be carefully positioned onto functional pieces for hygiene reasons. However on decorative work feel free to experiment. It can take a lot of practice to produce piping that your’e happy with. Learning to apply the correct amount of pressure takes time as clay slip is a different consistency to buttercream or frosting.

The clay slip that I use is first dried, then soaked and sieved. I allow this to dry to a consistency that I’m happy with to begin piping. Drying work with clay piping on it is the most crucial step because the slip has a high water content compared to the wall of the vessel you have applied it to, it will need to be dried slowly so the water content can even out so covering with plastic is a good idea.

Variety of nozzles in a piping set for cake decorating

Cake Icing Comb

These are an alternative to pattern ribs used to shape the profile of clay when throwing on the potter’s wheel. There are sets with several designs that can be fun to experiment with and can create some great results. They tend to be a bit too tall for my use so I have cut mine down (carefully with an electric jigsaw then sanded to smooth). They can also be applied to hand building to add texture by scraping while the clay work is on a whirler. I found my set on amazon.

Cake icing combs cake decorating icing frosting white purple

Different Cake Icing Combs

Chocolate and Sugar Craft Moulds

These silicone moulds are similar to plaster sprig moulds but there is a lot more variety. A disadvantage of the cake decorating moulds is that the clay relief from the mould is harder to release because silicone cannot absorb water like plaster sprig moulds. They are still useful to give a uniform repeat motif you can use in your work again and again. The Cake Decorating Company has a large selection of moulds.

I have even made my own moulds using sealant silicone from the DIY shop. You can shape and carve your design into clay and pump a layer of silicone on top, allow to dry and it’s ready to use. This allows you to create an entirely custom and unique motif to use in your work.

Cake silicone mould cake decorating gold design baroque

‘The Cake Decorating Company’ Baroque Silicone Mould

Cookie cutters

Cookie cutters are a great options to start you off. Roll out your clay to about half a centimetre on an unvarnished wood base like plywood (so the clay does not stick). Lift the clay slab off carefully each time you roll over it. Then compress the clay with a metal rib over the slab.

There is such a huge variety of cutters available, usually plastic or metal. Stainless steel is better as it’s sharper than plastic and does not rust. Maybe choose a design that you like for all year round, not just for Christmas. Bird designs are a great option and they would look good outside too in your garden. Be careful to push out the clay from a cutter that has thin sections with a paint brush so it doesn’t get stuck and break off. One design I enjoy using is this rocking horse cutter for Christmas Events from Lakeland. There are also plenty of cutter you can find online, just pick your favourite and start rolling out those slabs!

Cookie cutter rocking horse biscuit stainless steel cake decorating

‘Lakeland’ Rocking Horse Cookie Cutter

Meri Meri have some gorgeous trendy designs like these Cactus cutters to create single hanging decorations or even bunting. Once cut out, make sure to cut a hole at the top to hang. Decorate as desired, for example you can could experiment with textures, stains, underglaze and slips.

Meri Meri Cookie Cutters Cactus green steel Party

‘Meri Meri’ Cactus Cookie Cutters

Cake Whirlers

Whirlers are essential for hand-building and useful when decorating clay pieces. It is useful to centre the work like on a potter’s wheel and then you can turn the clay work to decorate in a fluid movement. Cake turntables to ice and decorate cakes are a great cheaper alternative to potter’s whirlers. Plastic Cake turntables tend to range from £10 -£20 where as metal potters whirlers/banding wheels range £50 – £100+

Hobbycraft and Lakeland both have options for sale.

Cake decorating whirler plastic white scallop edge

Cake Decorating Whirler

Many thanks for reading my first EVER blog post!

By Christina Goodall