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Underglaze vs. Glaze: Know the Difference

Dua Fatima
By Dua Fatima & Shumaila Saeed || Published on May 7, 2024
Underglaze is applied to pottery before its first firing and is covered by a glaze, while glaze is a glassy coating fired at high temperatures for waterproofing and decoration.
Underglaze vs. Glaze

Key Differences

Underglaze is a method of decoration applied to pottery or ceramics before they undergo their first firing. It's used to create designs that sit underneath a transparent or semi-transparent glaze. This technique allows for intricate details and colors to be preserved and protected by the subsequent glaze application. In contrast, glaze is applied over bisque-fired ceramics and undergoes a second firing. The glaze serves both decorative and functional purposes, adding color, texture, and waterproofing to the piece.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
May 07, 2024
Glazes can vary greatly in their composition and appearance, ranging from glossy to matte finishes, and can be transparent, translucent, or opaque. They interact with the surface of the clay body and can alter the appearance of the underglaze beneath them. Underglazes, on the other hand, are formulated to show true color after firing, regardless of the glaze applied over them. This property makes underglazes particularly valuable for detailed artistic work.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
May 07, 2024
The application of underglaze and glaze is also distinct. Underglazes are often applied to greenware (unfired clay), allowing for easier manipulation of detailed designs. Glazes are typically applied to bisque ware (clay that has been fired once without glaze) to ensure that the glaze adheres properly and achieves a uniform surface after the final firing.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
May 07, 2024
The firing temperatures for underglazes and glazes can also differ. While underglazes must be compatible with the subsequent glaze firing temperature, glazes require specific firing ranges to mature properly. This difference necessitates careful selection of underglazes and glazes to ensure compatibility and achieve the desired visual effects.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
May 07, 2024
Finally, the choice between using underglaze, glaze, or a combination of both depends on the desired artistic effect and functionality of the ceramic piece. While underglazes offer precision in design and color, glazes provide the essential protective layer and can significantly influence the final aesthetic through their texture, sheen, and color.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
May 07, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Application Stage

Applied to greenware before the first firing.
Applied over bisque ware for the second firing.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
May 07, 2024

Purpose

Decoration beneath the glaze, adds color and detail.
Provides waterproofing, adds color, and affects texture.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
May 07, 2024

Finish

Matte and absorbs glaze applied over it.
Ranges from glossy to matte; can be transparent to opaque.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
May 07, 2024

Firing Temperature

Must match the glaze's firing temperature.
Specific to the glaze's formulation for maturity.
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
May 07, 2024

Interaction with Clay

Designed to show true color after firing.
Can alter appearance of clay and underglaze beneath.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
May 07, 2024
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Underglaze and Glaze Definitions

Underglaze

A colored decoration applied on ceramics before glazing.
The potter painted a landscape with underglaze on the vase.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 29, 2024

Glaze

Used to waterproof and finish ceramic items.
She dipped the pot in glaze to prepare it for its final firing.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

Underglaze

A substance used to create detailed artwork on pottery.
She used blue underglaze for the intricate patterns.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 29, 2024

Glaze

Can be glossy, matte, or satin in finish.
He chose a matte glaze to complement the rustic design.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 29, 2024

Underglaze

Requires a covering glaze to be waterproof.
After decorating with underglaze, he covered it with a clear glaze.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024
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Glaze

Applied over bisque ware and refired.
After the bisque firing, the vase was ready for glazing.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024

Underglaze

Suitable for precise design work on ceramics.
Underglaze is perfect for the detailed floral motifs.
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
Feb 29, 2024

Glaze

Affects the texture and color of the ceramic surface.
The red glaze turned orange on the high-fired clay.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 29, 2024

Underglaze

Applied to greenware for artistic designs.
The underglaze was carefully applied to the unfired mug.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 29, 2024

Glaze

To incrust, cover, or overlay with a thin surface, consisting of, or resembling, glass; as, to glaze earthenware; hence, to render smooth, glasslike, or glossy; as, to glaze paper, gunpowder, and the like.
Sorrow's eye glazed with blinding tears.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Underglaze

A decorative slip applied to the surface of pottery before glazing.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Glaze

A transparent coating applied to the surface of a painting to modify the color tones.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024

Underglaze

To apply a decorative slip to the surface of pottery before glazing.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Glaze

To apply thinly a transparent or semitransparent color to (another color), to modify the effect.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Underglaze

Coloring or decoration applied to pottery before glazing.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Glaze

A thin glassy coating of ice.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Underglaze

Applied under the glaze, that is, before the glaze is put on; fitted to be so applied; - said of colors in porcelain painting.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Glaze

A coating, as of syrup, applied to food.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Glaze

To give a smooth lustrous surface to.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Glaze

(ceramics) The vitreous coating of pottery or porcelain; anything used as a coating or color in glazing. See glaze (transitive verb).
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Glaze

A thin smooth shiny coating.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Glaze

A coating of colored, opaque, or transparent material applied to ceramics before firing.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Glaze

A glassy film, as one over the eyes.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Glaze

To fit, furnish, or secure with glass
Glaze a window.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Glaze

(meteorology) A smooth coating of ice formed on objects due to the freezing of rain; glaze ice.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024

Glaze

To furnish (a window, a house, a sash, a case, etc.) with glass.
Two cabinets daintily paved, richly handed, and glazed with crystalline glass.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Glaze

Coat with something sweet, such as a hard sugar glaze
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Glaze

A glassy coating applied on pottery for decoration and sealing.
The glaze gave the bowl a glossy finish.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 29, 2024

Repeatedly Asked Queries

What is underglaze?

Underglaze is a colored decoration applied to pottery before it is glazed and fired, allowing for detailed designs beneath a protective coating.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
May 07, 2024

Do you apply glaze to greenware or bisque ware?

Glaze is applied to bisque ware, pottery that has been fired once without glaze, to ensure proper adhesion and finish after the final firing.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
May 07, 2024

What's the difference in firing temperature between underglaze and glaze?

Underglaze must be compatible with the glaze's firing temperature, while glazes have specific firing ranges to mature properly.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
May 07, 2024

What is glaze?

Glaze is a glassy coating applied over ceramics, providing waterproofing, decoration, and a finish ranging from glossy to matte.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
May 07, 2024

How do underglaze and glaze contribute to the waterproofing of ceramics?

Underglaze provides color and design beneath the glaze, which is the main component that seals the pottery, making it waterproof.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
May 07, 2024

Can underglaze change color after firing?

Underglazes are formulated to retain their color after firing, but the final appearance can be influenced by the covering glaze and firing conditions.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
May 07, 2024

Can underglaze be applied over glaze?

Typically, underglaze is applied before glaze, as it's designed to be covered by glaze for protection and to achieve the desired aesthetic.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
May 07, 2024

Can glaze be applied without underglaze?

Yes, glaze can be applied on its own to provide a finish and waterproofing to ceramics without the need for underglaze.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
May 07, 2024

How does the finish of glaze compare to underglaze?

Glaze finishes range from glossy to matte and can be transparent to opaque, while underglaze typically has a matte finish that is covered by glaze.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
May 07, 2024

Can glaze alter the color of underglaze?

Yes, the glaze can change the appearance of the underglaze beneath it, depending on its transparency and the interaction between the materials during firing.
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
May 07, 2024

How do you choose the right glaze for a piece with underglaze?

Choose a glaze that is compatible with the underglaze's firing temperature and desired aesthetic, considering finish, transparency, and color interaction.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
May 07, 2024

Is underglaze necessary for all ceramic pieces?

No, underglaze is optional and used for adding detailed designs or colors beneath the glaze.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
May 07, 2024

What types of ceramics are best suited for underglaze decoration?

Ceramics that require detailed, colorful designs beneath a protective glaze are best suited for underglaze decoration.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
May 07, 2024

Can underglaze be used on its own without a covering glaze?

While underglaze can be left unglazed, it typically requires a covering glaze to be waterproof and for the design to be preserved.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
May 07, 2024

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About Author
Dua Fatima
Written by
Dua Fatima
Shumaila Saeed
Co-written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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