Technique of the Week: Overglazes

Some time ago we posted about underglazes. As  the name implies, they are used under a glaze. Today we talk about overglazes. Again, as the name implies, they are used over a glaze. A third firing is required: first the bisque firing, then the glaze firing, and now the overglaze firing.


Duncan has gold, premium gold, and white gold (which looks silver). When applying overglazes you must be very careful to remain clean. Use alcohol to wash your hands and to wash down the piece. Use a new clean brush for each color and save it separately just for use with that color. Apply the color evenly but not heavy as that will cause runs and drips. Each of these metallics is a different color in the bottle: gold is brown, premium gold is red, and white gold is green. They come in very small 2-dram bottles and are rather pricey, depending on the price of gold when you buy it.  Jim made me a small wooden block to hold the bottle so it doesn’t tip over. Cover your painted piece with a clean cloth, preferably a piece of sheeting or a pillowcase, to keep dust away until it is fired. Fire to cone 018-019.


  • The vase is painted completely with gold, after use of a specialty product called brocade to make the design. Note that the finish on the vase is satin, with gloss only on the brocade. This piece was part of out Duncan certification training in 1974.
  • The swan candy dish was clear glazed, then premium gold was added to the beak and around the edge.
  • The dragon teapot was finished with white gold on the spikes, the horn, and on the ball.

Mother of Pearl

Like the shimmery, shiny, colorful inside of a pearl’s shell? That is what you get with Mother of Pearl. It comes in a small bottle (but not as small as the gold) and is dark blue in color. Again, use a new clean brush which you save only for this product. When applying use circular motion to bring out the colors. Keep clean and fire to cone 020.

Mother of Pearl is often used on white trees but can also be used over other colors.  Here we also see a tiny ballerina and a lamp base. It is difficult to capture the rainbow of color in a photograph but the lamp shows it best.


Decals are an easy way to apply a detailed colorful design onto a glazed piece. You can even buy your ware at Dollar Tree! Make sure to purchase ceramic water-slide decals that get fired. Cut apart the pieces that you want to use and immerse in warm water. When they move easily, slide off of the backing paper onto the ware and smooth out any air bubbles with a small squeegee. Let dry 24 hours to make sure there is no moisture. Then fire to cone 015-018.

Note that decals are placed on white glazed bisque. Putting decals over other oclors distorts the color. On the tea-for-one with the yellow rose, no other color was added. On the second tea-for-one and the personal teapot, underglaze colors were chosen that match the decal and that part was painted before the piece was glazed.

In the ginger jar you can see the effect of using a decal over a color. The snack set was puchased for only $2.00, then the decals were added. The last is a mini child’s tea set. We had a Mommy & Me Tea where the little girls added decals to their tea sets.

Note that these three overglaze products can be used on the same piece.
However, since firing temperature are different you must start with the hottest firing and move to the coolest; that is, decals (015-018), then gold (018-019), then Mother of Pearl (020).

Carol’s Carousel Creations
Where having Fun is why we come!

So, start the New Year off right by learning how to
add these special finishing touches to your pieces.

About carolscarouselcreations

I am a retired math teacher. My jusband and I have been pouring, cleaning, firing, and painting ceramics since 1970 and have been teaching since 1972. We are both Duncan certified and members of IADCCT (International Association of Duncan Certified Caramic Teachers) and MVCT (Mahoning Valley Ceramic Teachers), a local chapter in North East Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. We have a home studio where we teach Technique Workshops and have Open Class time. We also have a party van which we take to local nursing homes. A new addition in 2020 is our online Facebook Live classes/demonstrations. We have two Etsy stores AfAfKidsNFriends for our African-American pieces and CarolsCarouselShoppe for our carousels. Find us on Facebook at CarolsCarouselCreations or send us an email to
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