Do you glaze or fire first?

The order in which you apply glaze and fire pottery plays a significant role in achieving the desired results. While both glazing and firing are essential steps in ceramics, the sequence in which you undertake them can impact the final appearance, durability, and functionality of your pottery. Let’s explore whether you should glaze or fire first and the rationale behind each approach.

Glaze First

Glazing before firing is a common approach for many ceramic artists. Applying glaze to greenware (unfired clay) allows the glaze to bond with the clay surface during firing. This method is particularly useful when using glazes that require multiple layers or intricate detailing, as it allows for greater control over the glaze application process.

Fire First

Firing before glazing, also known as “bisque firing,” involves firing pottery to a certain temperature before applying glaze. This method is popular for several reasons:

  • Enhanced Durability: Bisque firing strengthens the clay, making it less susceptible to damage during glaze application.
  • Glaze Adhesion: The porous surface of bisqueware allows glaze to adhere more effectively, reducing the risk of glaze defects.
  • Reduced Shrinkage: Bisque firing helps minimize overall shrinkage, resulting in better-fitting glaze applications.

Choosing the Right Approach

Whether you choose to glaze first or fire first depends on your artistic goals and the type of pottery you’re creating. Consider factors such as the desired glaze effects, the complexity of your design, and the specific properties of your clay and glazes.


Both glazing and firing are integral parts of ceramics, and the order in which you perform them can impact the final outcome of your pottery. Whether you opt to glaze before firing or fire before glazing, understanding the benefits and considerations of each approach will help you make informed decisions that lead to stunning and enduring ceramic creations.

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