Whether you’re making use of melted wax, wax emulsions, or wax resists, they all serve a variety of purposes when creating ceramics and pottery. If you’re not a particularly experienced potter or ceramicist, you may be wondering what on earth the relationship between the two is, but the purpose is to keep liquids from adhering to the clay. This technique is used for decorating through the prevention of adhesion of raw liquid glazes to the body, but there are also several other uses. Here we explore how to successfully use wax emulsions in pottery.
Using Wax to Protect the Base of Pots
Before we get into the use of wax resist for the decoration of pots, we are first going to discuss the most common and practical use of wax when creating pottery. When firing your piece in the kiln, even the tiniest speck of glaze on its base may cause it to become welded to the kiln itself and may make it impossible to remove. While you may think washing the base before firing is enough, in truth it’s a good idea to apply the wax to the base of your piece before beginning the glazing process. Apply the wax as neatly as possible to the base of the piece and up the sides to approximately 6mm which will ensure its efficacy even if the glaze runs during the firing process. Fortunately you don’t have to be as careful.
Using Wax Resist for Decoration
Another effective use for wax resist in the creation of pottery and ceramics is for decoration. This technique effectively makes use of negative space for decoration and if applied correctly, will prevent the liquid glaze from adhering to the piece in the design of your choosing. During the firing process, the wax will melt away while the glaze will hardens, revealing the raw colour of clay where the wax was initially applied. Before applying the wax resist, make sure your piece is dust-free and as the wax is clear when applying it, it may be a good idea to use a stencil to ensure accuracy. If you prefer the idea of a free-hand approach, you may want to sketch your design on paper first before applying the wax as you won’t know how successful the design has been until the wax hardens.
Applying Glaze over Wax Resist Decorations
After the application of the wax resist, wait a few minutes for the wax to harden as it will become solid and your design will become apparent. If you’re not happy with the design, you can always add a little bit more and wait a few more minutes for it to harden once again. Once you’ve satisfied with the outcome of the wax resist design, it will be time to glaze your piece. Remember, the glaze will not adhere to the wax resist and the design will be left as an unglazed area. Feel free to be as creative as you like with the glazing designs and then fire away!