What is glaze variation? Great question. Why do some glazes have the same name with just different letters after the number? These are actually very common questions we’re going to go over with some examples to get you understanding glazes and to teach you how to be the tile pro you’ve always wanted to be! Take a look at our guide to understanding glazes below.
Talk to me about glaze names.
Have you noticed an “E” or “W” or “R” after the numbers of our glazes?
E is White Earthenware clay. It’s smooth, almost like porcelain.
W is for White Sculpture clay. It has a coarse consistency and conveys more texture and subtle dimension in the glaze finish.
R is for Red Sculpture clay. Also course in consistency, it has a reddish rust color which contributes to the tone of each glaze applied.
Let’s take a closer look...
22E Blue Opal on the fine Earthenware clay- The color goes on smooth and the glaze has a thinner look.
22W Blue Opal on White Sculpture clay- Has a warmer tone than earthenware, with a little more grit.
22R Blue Opal on Red Sculpture clay- Has an even deeper reddish tone because of the color of the clay body. Depending on the opacity of the glaze, this can show through the glaze to offer beautiful tone and variation.
Let’s take Sea Mist for example…
Here is an example of grouted tile in our Moroccan Fish Scales on two different clay bodies to give a slightly different look.
1017E Sea Mist (notice the “E”) is shown here with a range of variation and a watery finish.
1017W Sea Mist (see the “W”) looks very similar, but with slightly different tones and a rougher finish.
It’s important to remember that every glaze is different and has its own personality. Some glazes are thicker and look very similar on different clay bodies, while others react differently in the kilns and can vary on different clay bodies. This is why we’ve put together some helpful info for you on our Color page. Each color has its own little gauge that tells you how much variation it is known to have, and if the finish is glossy, matte, crackle or satin.
What About Glaze Finish?
Different glazes have different finishes: matte, satin, crackle or glossy. Each type has its own personality and are desirable for different circumstances.
Matte glazes have a subtle, earthy feel, with a flat finish.
Satin is a nice, smooth finish with a slight sheen when caught by the light.
Crackle glazes offer a textured feel with a usually higher glaze variation.
Glossy glazes reflect the most light, which brightens any space, allowing the colors to pop.
*Don’t feel limited to selecting glazes that all have the same finish—tile projects that include multiple finishes are encouraged for a beautiful overall palette.*
If you like the color of a glaze that happens to be glossy but want it to be matte, unfortunately we cannot wave our magic wand to make it so. BUT, since we have a team of glaze gurus, we can suggest colors depending on the finish and hue that you are looking for!
Mixing Glaze Finishes
Much like using one glaze with a high variation, choosing multiple glazes with different finishes can offer depth and texture to the overall look of your tile. Here we used 613 Black (glossy) with 366 Satin Black (satin) to create an almost three-dimensional feel.
You can really see the difference when compared to using only one type of finish, as seen here in these 366 Satin Black medium fishscales.
Medium Fishscales - 366 Satin Black
What Does Glaze Variation Mean?
This is a very common question we receive. One of the most desired qualities of handmade tile is its glaze variation – the different tones and hues that are achieved through glaze application and the firing process.
Because we glaze every tile by hand, each one is truly unique. From the amount of glaze applied, to the direction of the brushstrokes, our glaze variation is dependent on human hands. The firing process also contributes to the overall look of each glaze. We fire across three cones, or temperatures, to ensure we are maximizing the potential of each glaze.
These variances allow us to embrace the chaotic beauty of the natural world. Through its reaction to heat and the idiosyncrasy of human touch, our tile relies on variation to define its personality. Commercial tile has a tendency to look sterile or bland because of the monotony of color and application. And while we cannot guarantee a specific amount of variation in each glaze, the singularity of each project is what makes handmade tile so unique and exciting.
1017W Sea Mist, as shown below in various shapes, including Moroccan Fish Scales, is an impactful glaze with a wide range of variation. Believe it or not, all of these tiles are on ONE clay body and are hand-glazed with ONE color.
Here are some more examples of tiles that offer a wide range of variation.
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The post Glaze 101: Our Guide to Understanding Glazes! appeared first on Artisan Tile Company: Handmade Ceramic Tiles by Mercury Mosaics.