Layering and Blending Underglazes: Creating Depth and Texture


Discover the transformative art of layering and blending underglazes in ceramic design. These techniques go beyond mere application, turning ceramic pieces into vibrant canvases of color and texture. Whether using brushes for painterly strokes, sponges for washes and details, or experimenting with pencils and pouring methods for unique effects, underglazes offer endless possibilities for artistic expression.

From subtle shading to bold compositions, underglazes, with their high pigment content and slow-drying formulas, preserve vividness through firing, ensuring each layer contributes to the richness of the final piece. Dive into the world of underglazes and uncover how these versatile tools empower artists to push boundaries and craft pottery that speaks volumes through its intricate layers and dynamic textures.


Using brushes with underglazes is a great way to achieve painterly effects. There are many different types of brushes that can be used, depending on the effect you are looking for. From detail brushes to fan brushes, underglaze can be brushed on in a wide variety of ways to create cool effects.

Another fun underglaze technique is to use a pencil to draw on your piece. The pencil will burn out in the bisque firing, but it provides a great guideline for where underglaze can be applied.

You can also pour underglaze colors onto a piece of greenware or leather-hard clay and swirl them together to get a marbled look. This should be done on a bone-dry or leather-hard piece of clay to prevent it from drying too quickly and cracking during the bisque firing.


Sponges are great tools to use with underglazes. They allow you to create a wash of color that covers the whole surface of your pot or they can be used to highlight details or add fine lines.

They are also good to use for blending and shading. For example, if you are painting a portrait, a wash of underglaze can help with shading and rendering to create a realistic effect.

Underglazes are pigmented ceramic compounds applied by brushwork to leather hard clay or greenware and then covered with a transparent glaze. They are often heavily gummed and gelled so they dry slowly and retain their opacity through firing. They have a much higher water content than glaze and require more coats for opacity.


Fundamental underglazes work well for a variety of applications, including brushing, dipping, stamping, sponge painting, silkscreening, and graffiti. They can also be polished to create a soft sheen of color.

Pure ceramic stains don’t melt at typical pottery temperatures, so commercial underglazes dilute them into a recipe of pottery materials called a ‘base medium’ to impart ceramic properties such as stability and viscosity. This gives them an appropriate specific gravity to bond with a clay body without needing to re-wet it each time.

Apply one layer of underglaze at a time and allow it to dry before applying the next coat. If you apply too many layers the colors may run together and turn muddy-looking. To avoid this, it is important to experiment on test tiles and to keep the application thin enough to maintain good surface coverage.

Reusable Squeeze Bottles

Layering underglazes is a wonderful way to develop and master ceramic artistry. It is a practice that can truly encapsulate a potter’s creativity and personal expression.

It is possible to apply underglazes on greenware, however it is better to work with bisque ware after the clay has been fired once. This is because if you apply underglazes on unfired clay it will quickly blend in with the wet clay.

Some underglaze application techniques require multiple layers of color to achieve opacity. You can mix colors to create interesting secondary hues, brush blending adjacent colors while still wet, spray mists of different colors to encourage organic blending, and use resist methods like wax to block sections from mixing. You can also apply underglazes with an airbrush for a variety of unique textures and effects.

Mayco Designer Liners

The Designer Liner enables you to create crisp, non-moving line work at cone 06-6 temperatures. It can be used under a clear or transparent glaze. It can also be polished with a brush to produce a soft sheen or left matte. It is clay-based and the natural tendency to dry quickly promotes clogging of the metal writer tip.

To avoid this, shake the jar before use and apply a small amount of water to the product when necessary. This will promote flow and control. For best results, it is recommended to use the Designer Liner with a liner brush for fine outlining or detailing. It fires to the shelf cone 05/06. Food is safe when covered with a clear glaze. AP Non-toxic and non-hazardous when used as directed.

Exploring Boundless Creativity with Underglazes

Embrace the limitless potential of underglazes in ceramic artistry. Whether you’re a seasoned potter or just beginning your journey, mastering layering and blending techniques opens a world of creativity. Each stroke, wash, and detail contributes to the depth and character of your creations, ensuring every piece tells a unique story.

With underglazes, the journey from concept to masterpiece is marked by experimentation and discovery. From subtle nuances to bold statements, these versatile tools empower artists to innovate and elevate their craft. Step into the realm of underglazes and unleash your creativity, where every layer adds richness and every firing brings your vision to life in vibrant color and texture.