Test Tiles

Test tiles are a pain but essential if you are interested in refining your work.  It helps you test combinations of glazes as well as provide you with something tangible to see what glaze looks like on different clay bodies. Otherwise, if you’re like me, you forget very easily.  There are many different ways in making test tiles. Test bowls (or seconds) work well because they can catch a glaze that becomes too fluid. They can also show you how the glaze acts on both vertical and flat surfaces.  In order to make these test tiles, you will need to throw a shallow, bottomless bowl with a flange on the inside and outside and when it’s dry, tool the outside of the bowl and then make vertical cuts. This will give you upside down T shapes with a slight curve test tiles.  Another way of making test tiles is to make slab cuts (which you can see in the featured photo). I made rectangular test tiles because I’m testing underglazes. I’m more interested in the color when it’s fired than the fluidity of the glazes.  Regardless of shapes, here are some other general ideas to think about when making test tiles:

  • Texture: Adding texture to your test tile is a great idea so you can see how the glaze will respond to texture and carvings. I carved a line down each test tile for a little bit of texture.
  • Marking: Put some type of word, number, or code that reminds you what glaze this was, what clay it was on, and even firing temperature. Or you can simply number them and keep the details in a notebook by number.  I gave my test tiles codes and wrote all the details down in my notebook (which by the way, every potter should have a detailed notebook!).
  • Holes: Adding a hole to your test tile is great for organization because you can hang them on a wall board or off the handle of the bucket. I am going to string mine together by clay type.
  • Dipping: It is best to do three dips. First dip covers the whole area. Second dip covers 2/3 of the area. Third dip covers half the previous dip. In my case, I didn’t dip because I am testing underglazes which has a thicker consistency. I will be doing the triple dip when it comes to regular glazes.

After a year, I finally decided to make test tiles. I’ve ruined enough pottery pieces with glazing and I don’t want to make that same mistake again. I hope this information helps you as it did for me!

I got this information from Big Ceramic Store.