top of page

Burnishing pots

Burnishing a pot to get a beautiful, smooth, shiny surface can be an arduous chore but the results will make Naked Raku and Saggar fired work look superb. Here are some helpful tips for great results 


I usually burnish a pot about 3 or 4 times to get a really good surface smoothness and shine, starting with the first and second burnishing done on the wheel. 
Burnishing can be done straight onto the clay that the pot is made of or a clay slip, such as porcelain, applied over the body clay. You can also use Terra Sigillata (a very fine slip that the Greeks used 2000 years ago)  which gives a very beautiful shine.
I brush on porcelain slip on to the leather hard body of my Naked Raku pots. I allow the pot to dry again to leather hard as the slip re dampens the pot. I try to even out the drying by covering the top of the pot with plastic so the bottom can catch up. I have turned the pot upside down in the past, but that can distort heaver pots and make them sink.
Brushing on slip can leave ridges from the brush strokes, so once the pot is leather hard, about the same as when you would turn it,
I stick the pot onto a bat, or the wheel head with some water, no need for lumps of clay to make it stay and you can get right to the bottom un interrupted. I do the first smoothing with a softish yellow "Mud Tools" kidney. to get rid of the brush ridges. Then the pot drys a little more before the proper burnishing. 

The pot dryness is crucial for burnishing. If it is still too damp the tools will leave a ridge, if its too dry the surface will go dusty and dull.

The little tools I use are called furniture Slider (available on Amazon). They are very smooth and have rounded edges to get into the tight curves. 
Watch the short video for a demonstration. 
The first burnishing should smooth out the surface and start to shine. I then let the pot dry a little more. Be careful not to dry to much and repeat the process on the wheel.
The third burnish I will do by hand and tidy up around the bottom, but be careful not to let the pot dry too much or the slip will become dusty and loose its shine. 
The same applies to Terra Sigillata, except you can get a great shine after one burnishing if you polish it with a very smooth, thin, plastic bag.

Come to my Workshop to learn how to firer Naked Raku
Good Luck, Hope you find this helpful. 

bottom of page