How to Glaze Terra-Cotta

Updated April 17, 2017

"Terra-cotta" translates into English as "baked earth." Terra-cotta pottery and bricks are made by sculpting clay, allowing it to dry and then baking it at extreme temperatures. The colour of the terra-cotta will vary drastically depending on the colour of the clay used. Terra-cotta items can be coated with a glaze to make them look brighter and help preserve them. Glazing terra-cotta products requires access to a pottery kiln.

Fire the terra-cotta item in a kiln at 927 degrees Celsius or hotter. The temperature of the kiln should be adjusted depending on the type of clay being used.

Fill a pan with paraffin wax and heat it until the wax melts. Dip the base of the terra-cotta object in the wax to prevent the glaze from fusing it to the kiln shelf. If the item has a lid, brush the wax on the areas where the lid meets the base.

Fill a container large enough to submerge the object with glaze. Glaze can be purchased from local craft stores or it can be made by hand.

Hold the object with a pair of dipping tongs and fully submerge it in the glaze. Pull it out and allow most of the glaze to drain back into the bucket.

Set the object on newspaper and allow the glaze to dry completely.

Fire the object in the kiln at between 1149 and 1260 degrees Celsius for 16 to 18 hours. The exact temperature and length of time with depend on the kiln and glaze, so some experimentation is necessary.

Allow the terra-cotta item to cool in the kiln for 24 hours and remove it.


There are a large variety of homemade glaze recipes. Experiment with different recipes to find the best one for your work.

Things You'll Need

  • Kiln
  • Pan
  • Paraffin wax
  • Paintbrush, optional
  • Glaze
  • Bucket or other deep container
  • Dipping tongs
  • Newspaper
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