Finishing Your Pottery
Now that you've made your first cookie jar, cup or vase you may want to decorate and glaze it. Decorations in pottery are usually stains that are formulated to work well on a fired piece. They are used on the outside of the piece, much like paints, to colour the entire piece, create a pattern or even embellish your piece with words. Pottery stains come in a large variety of interesting colours.
Glaze is the final step for making a completed pottery project. For items used with food or water it is important to seal them inside and out as liquids will eventually leak through unsealed pottery or stain them. For this reason, a coating of glaze is important. It will also make your pottery look like it is coated in glass and have a shiny finish to protect it.
Choosing the correct glaze for your piece is important. The silica sand in the glaze must melt and stick to the piece without it being fired at too high a temperature. The way to accomplish this is to check the firing temperature of your piece and then match that temperature to the glaze you want. Glazes come in many different firing temperatures for this reason.
Once you have chosen your glaze, simply paint it onto the outside of your decorated piece and it will be ready for the final firing. Once inside the kiln, the silica sand in the glaze will form that beautiful, glassy finish and you will have a beautiful piece of pottery. To brand and decorate your piece, use in-glaze decals which are heated in the kiln at glazing temperature.