[Clayart] Assembly of fired ceramics

Snail Scott claywork at flying-snail.com
Tue Jan 10 11:01:23 EST 2017

> On Jan 10, 2017, at 8:47 AM, <zalt57 at videotron.ca> <zalt57 at videotron.ca> wrote:
> I am putting together a small sculpture assembly.  The pieces are all bisque.  I would like to glaze fire them together.  The sculpture is comprised of small standing figures and I want to attach them to a ceramic base…

Attaching parts by glazing between them does work, with a few provisos:

1. The parts must be totally stable in their intended position when held in 
place by gravity alone. When the glaze melts, it will make the surfaces a 
bit slippery, and it definitely won’t act as a glue until it’s cooled, so be sure 
that nothing is on the verge of slipping out of place or tipping over.

2. Glaze can be brittle, and the thicker the glaze layer, the more vulnerable 
it will be to cracking if accidentally struck or dropped. Thicker glaze will also 
be more vulnerable to any imperfections in glaze ‘fit’. What seems like a very 
well-fitted glaze in normal use (in terms of coefficient of thermal expansion)
can show discrepancies when applied much thicker, and evidence crazing 
or shivering to an unanticipated degree. Because of this, do not use glaze to 
fill gaps, even horizontal ones. Excellent fit between the parts will reduce the 
negative effects of imperfect glaze fit. 

I use epoxy a lot, in a range of situations. I use it to assemble work that’s 
larger than the kiln, work that wouldn’t be stable or fire well if made all in 
one piece, and for mixed-media work. Epoxy is great, and comes in a wide 
range of types for different applications, working properties, and appearance.
I don’t often use glaze as an attachment partly because I don’t use much 
glaze, but mostly because (as noted above) it doesn’t suit most of my 

In a situation where either option is functionally sufficient and feasible, 
I would decide based on aesthetics. A glazed connection will allow for a 
seamless transition between glazed components of the work, if desired. 
A glued connection will allow a clean, distinct separation, if that is the 
preferred look instead. If the surfaces are meant to remain unglazed, I 
would use epoxy, to permit greater control and less chance of ‘oops’.

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