As early as 37,900 BCE a human hand was placed on a rock surface in Indonesia and pigment was then blown through a hollow tube (bone or reed) in a diffuse cloud over it, leaving a silhouette image of the hand on the rock. Such images occur in many prehistoric sites all over the world and were created by people of all ages and genders.
Spraying glazes is currently a popular technique for the surface decoration of ceramic art. Spraying underglazes, glazes and colorants can be done with a variety of tools including systems comprised of compressors, spray guns and ventilated spray booths.
AA Clay Studio and Gallery now offers studio rental of such a system, along with training in the application of sprayed glazes.
Two contemporary potters, Martha Grover and Stephen Hill, describe their reasons for spraying.
Martha Grover:“I started spraying my glazes about 4 years ago. I found that I was unable to achieve evenly layered surfaces and color transitions through traditional methods of dipping and pouring. By using two sprayers, one small for my bright colors concentrated at the edges, and a large one for the overall piece, I am able to create a varied, even surface that shifts from a bright color to light seamlessly.”
Stephen Hill: “Spraying permits me to blend multiple glazes together seamlessly and also gives me the ability to isolate colors on the rims handles, and feet of my pottery.”
Following are some general tips for spraying glazes.
- All materials must be finely sieved, preferably through a 100 mesh screen.
- Keep the gun tip at least 6 inches away from the object.
- Keep the gun pointed squarely at the work.
- Spray in long even strokes. Make each stroke separately and release the trigger as you finish each stroke to avoid pile-up.
- Make several passes over each area, with thickness testing using a needle tool.
- Wear a properly fitted respirator with a hepa filter.
Stephen Hill demonstrates his glazing process
As you see, spraying a glaze is no more complicated than spraying paint. You may need only to cover a sculpture or vessel with an even coat of glaze. Additionally, this technique has many decorative advantages.