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Glaze Types

Small pitcher, Albany slip, Marie Rogers
Small pitcher, Albany slip, Marie Rogers


Alkaline Glaze - thought to be of Chinese origin, this glaze was embraced first in the Edgefield District of South Carolina. Prepared with various combinations of sand and wood ash, lime, ground glass, and flint rock, glaze ingredients were readily available throughout the South. Often producing a drippy texture that varies in color from light green to black.

Albany Slip - both Albany and Michigan slips rose in popularity after the Civil War. Shipped in barrels from Albany, New York, this finely ground clay is mixed with water to create a liquid or slip. Pottery is dipped in the slip prior to the firing process. Unlike many glazes, Albany slip produces a smooth, chocolate-brown finish with no crazing that is easy to clean.

Salt Glaze - salt glazing was invented in Germany and was introduced to America by English and German colonists. During the firing process, salt is thrown into the kiln and vaporizes, fuzing to the surface of the pottery. Depending on the mineral content of the clay and the chemical reaction with the salt, a wide range of colors are possible. Not as widespread in the South as alkaline glaze and Albany slip, due in part to the need of salt for other daily uses.

Bristol Glaze - introduced late in the nineteenth century, Bristol glaze is similar to Albany slip, creating a smooth, easy to clean surface. Firing to a bright white, color variations are achieved by including materials like cobalt in the glaze mixture. Bybee Pottery in Kentucky has long used Bristol glaze to produce the popular “spongeware” pottery.