Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Applying kiln wash

Applying kiln wash to shelves and moulds has the same requirements.

The kiln was must be applied evenly.

You can use a soft bristled brush like a hake and trail on the kiln wash in four directions – top to bottom, side to side, and diagonally left to right and right to left.

The pigmented kiln wash turns white, indicating that the shelf has been fired


You can also spray the kiln wash onto the shelf or mould. This can provide an even coating, but you must be careful to avoid puddling the kiln wash. Pause after each coat to allow the water to be absorbed before applying the next coat. Apply until the shelf or mould surface is not obvious through the kiln wash.

You can use a sponge to apply to flat surfaces. A light touch is required. You need to apply in various directions as with the brush.

Metal moulds are a special case. The water carrying the kiln wash will simply bead up or run off the metal. First clean the metal to get rid of oils and dirt – sandblasting will do well. Then you need to heat the metal to about 25C – 50C above boiling and brush or spray the kiln wash onto the mould, one coat at a time. Return the mould to the heat source and then apply another coat of kiln wash. Do this until you have an even layer of kiln wash. Be careful not to put so much liquid on the mould that it begins to run. If this happens, you really need to start again.


Apply the kiln wash thinly.
You need enough kiln wash to separate the glass from the carrying surface. Any additional kiln wash will not make for a better separation, but may begin to flake off the surface and adhere to the glass more or less tightly.

The usual recommendation for brushing is one part kiln wash to five parts water. I recommend ten parts water to one part kiln wash if you are spraying the kiln wash. If you have a really absorbent surface, such as a vermiculite mould, you can reduce the water to two and a half parts water to one kiln wash. All these measurements are by volume.


The kiln wash finish must be smooth.

There are several ways to smooth the surface.

You can rub your hand over the shelf or mould to remove high spots/streaks. You need to remove the dust before using though.

You can smooth the surface using a rolled up nylon stocking. This relatively open weave allows the powder to be captured in the material. It works well on irregular surfaces like a mould. Again you must clear off any remaining dust.

Another way is applicable to flat surfaces. After applying the kiln wash, but before it has dried, make sure the surface is level. Then brush or spray on a layer of hot water. This both puddles and evaporates quickly, leaving a smooth surface on thinly applied kiln wash. If the kiln wash is thick, the drying process will leave cracks as in a dried out river bed.