Test Tiles

This week I have been working on making some test tiles for a variety of different glazes.  I find that this process is one of the longest for me.  I am one of those ceramic artists who loves to build and create, and when I am finished making a form, I typically like it, but then it comes time to glaze, and  I dread it….I often feel like I ruin my work by glazing it, rather than enhancing it.

I have worked really hard on numerous projects in the past few months that all need to be glazed at this point, so I am going to take my time and put a lot of thought and work into this glazing process. The first step in this glazing process is to make a test tile.

Making a test tile: (there are a number of ways to do this, but this is the process I use).

1. Roll or throw a large slab 1/4-1/2 inch thick.  I would say 1/2 inch is on the thick side and typically go thinner.

Rolling a slab out.  The pieces of wood on the sides help keep the thickness even throughout the slab.

2.  Cut into squares or rectangles.  depending on my mood I make these varying sizes, but I would say 2.5 inches by 3 inches is sufficient.

Cut the slab.  I have a thinner piece cut on the right to act as a base so they can stand upright in the kiln, this is optional.

Cut the slab. I have a thinner piece cut on the right to act as a base so they can stand upright in the kiln, this is optional.

3. Apply some texture of any kind to one side of the tile. Applying texture allows you to see how the glaze acts when applied to different surface textures.  I like to apply a variety, as well as the textures I would typically have on a surface of one of my pieces-like lace.

On these test tiles I have added a variety of textures, you can make them much simpler if you'd like.

Adding Texture-as much or little as you’d like.

4.  Allow the tile to set up to leather hard stage.

5. Before the tile is bone dry- and if you want to see how the glaze will look over a white and a black slip, you can now apply a strip of white slip, and a strip of black slip to the test tile-I like to make sure to apply this perpendicular to the texture so you can see what the glaze and slip looks like over some textured surface. Make sure you leave a section of the tile with just the clay body showing so you know what it looks like on its own.

Adding a strip of black slip and a strip of white slip.

Adding a strip of black slip and a strip of white slip.

5. If you know ahead of time the names of the glazes you are going to run tests for, you can use a needle tool and write the name in the back of the test tile, so after you fire your test tile, you remember what color glaze it was on the tile.


6. After you have bisque fired your test tiles, you can apply your test batch of glaze (these are usually smaller amounts of glaze, around 100 gram batches).  I like to apply the glaze by brushing one strip of two strokes or layer of glaze, and another strip of glaze just below the first one with only one stroke of glaze.  This way you can see how the glaze not only acts over texture, and colored slips-if you applied the white and black slips, but also how thicker applications of glaze acts as opposed to a thinner application, (the difference can be extreme in some cases).  I sometimes also like to see what a watered down application of the glaze would look like-mostly when applied to the texture, (typically a thick application will cover up any texture you have put on your form). Here you can see that I only applied the watered down layer to the lace texture.


Finished Test Tiles.



I have been captured by the 90’s for the past week, to celebrate the first CD I ever owned, this week I have been listening to No Doubt’s “Tragic Kingdom” album!  SO GOOD!

Here is my favorite track from the album- “Sunday Morning”


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