Pottery making and glazing are ancient arts. Glazes color, decorate, or waterproof a piece and enhance underlying features. Glazes first appeared on stone work in the late 3000s BC, and Ancient Egyptian fritware self-glazed once fired. With the invention of glass, around 1500 BC, glaze-on techniques grew. Artisans in the Middle East and Egypt developed alkali and ash glazes; in China, they used ground feldspar. By 100 BC, lead glazing had reached the West; trading cities Damascus, Fustat, and Tabriz became centers for innovative glaze styles; and sophisticated techniques spread around the world. Modern ceramicists, such as Woodman and Picasso, used glaze to design pieces; Rie and Coper used it for subdued color variations and natural patterns. Below, we navigate the glazes now available.
1. Duncan INKIT Envision Glaze Kit for Ceramics
A great choice for those unfamiliar with glazing techniques, this set of 12 glazes comes with instructions on how to properly paint ceramics. While many ceramic glazes can fire muddy or dull, the color offerings in this set fire vibrant and clear. Featuring every color of the rainbow from cherry red to sky blue, these glazes are nontoxic and dinnerware safe. With a creamy consistency straight out of the jar, these glazes don’t require any stirring or mixing, and each four-ounce jar will last you through a variety of projects.
2. Sax True Flow Crystal Magic Glazes
These glazes are called “magic” for a reason. Each speckled base glaze is mixed with crystals that melt and move when fired, leaving bursts of color, variegated color fields, and tie-dye effects. Each pack comes with 12 assorted colors, and each jar holds four ounces. Totally mixable, nontoxic, and lead-free, these unique glazes will make your finished ceramic piece stand out.
3. Mayco Element Glazes
Including both opaque and semi-opaque glazes, these kid-safe, food-safe, nontoxic glazes are a smart choice for the classroom and come at a great value. Featuring 12 glazes in a range of calming earth-tone shades from amber to celadon to indigo, each jar weighs two ounces and is labeled for easy identification. The glaze has a viscous texture and doesn’t need to be mixed or stirred when poured from the jar, so you can get to painting right away.
4. Speedball Stoneware Glaze
If you’re not in the market for an assorted set and would rather just buy one or two colors, or custom select your own 12-glaze kit, go with this option. Each jar is sixteen ounces and will last for more than a few projects. They are available in a range of 22 glossy-finish colors, so you can choose anything from a clear to a deep-blue glaze, with everything between. Lead-free and dinnerware safe, these glazes need to be stirred a bit before you pour but otherwise work well right out of the jar.
5. AMACO Assorted Glossy Colors
These transparent glazes are formulated to be totally mixable, so you can achieve custom colors. Featuring 12 16-ounce jars, this option gives you the most volume per set. Lead free and dinnerware safe, each color is packaged in its own labeled jar with directions for what cone to set your kiln for proper firing. Featuring unique shades of lime, plum, and cobalt, these glazes fire to a glossy finish for a polished look.