Over the years I have had the opportunity to watch a number of great potters glaze pots. In person, from Warren MacKenzie to Suzuki Goro and many more on video and dvd including; Shoji Hamada, Kawai Kanjiro, Arakawa Toyozo, Koie Ryoji, Michael Cardew and many more. What has surprises me most the variety of not only glazing styles, but more the actual approach to glazing. Some potters are just relaxed and casual regarding glazing, while others are meticulous, planned and organized. Some dread the process and glazing looks like a cyclone of dancing anxiety more than anything else.
I fall somewhere in between these approaches. I tend to throw a number of pots, knowing exactly how they will be glazed. This eliminates the planning part for 50 to 60% of the work. Now comes the anxiety part of the process, how best to glaze the pots to best actuate the form and purpose of the pot. Once that is resigned, the glazing process is a bit like the Tales Of The Water Margin character, the Black Whirlwind. Glazing up pots in their base coats happens rather quickly and without any hesitation, only stopped periodically to stir the glaze and clean my hands.
Now the anxiety sets in again. My base glaze is a bit on the particular side and the pots must be somewhere about 90% dry before the second glaze coating can be applied. If the base glaze is too wet, crawling occurs and if too dry, the second glaze can peel off in small paint chip size sheets. I have gotten good at timing this and lose very little to crawling; especially now adding calcined material to the glaze.
A kiln fire usually requires two days to get everything prepped, waxed, glazed, dried and cleaned. Then the real anxiety sets in; another day to fire the kiln and part of the next to cool and unload. Glazing is a necessary evil, usually goes off without any major problems, but I’d rather being throwing!