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Behind the Scenes: 22k Gold Pottery

We thought it would be fun to talk about the process of making our 22k gold pottery: it's fun, it's challenging, and it's a beautiful process!

It might come as a surprise that, yes, the gold luster that we use is actually REAL gold! And did you know that it comes in a liquid form and it's initial color is red? The real gold is suspended in an organic liquid medium, most often a pine oil resin. Once hand painted on a piece, the gilded piece is fired in the kiln at over 1,000 degrees. During the firing process, the liquid medium burns off and you are left with the sparkly real 22k gold. Opening the kiln after a gold firing is like uncovering an archaeological treasure trove!

Prior to the gold firing, each piece undergoes two previous firings: a bisque firing to help strengthen the piece and a glaze firing to add color to the piece (the typical amount of firings we do for our non-gilded pieces). After the glaze firing, the piece is ready to have gold added to it. The gold is painted directly on top of the glazed piece and the gold adheres to the piece during the firing---it is a permanent fixture on the piece.

Like I mentioned earlier, when the gold is painted on the piece, it is a bright cherry red. The gold can be applied to boldly cover an entire surface or painted with thin, intricate lines to give accents to a piece; it just depends on the feel of the piece or aesthetic look we hope to achieve.

When I first started working with gold, it was a great (expensive) experiment because of the liquidity and precious nature of the material. It takes many, many working hours of experimentation to learn how to apply the gold: apply too thick and you are left with bubbles, apply to thin and you are left with an unsavory purple. You also must learn to work with medical grade gloves and a respirator in order to take necessary safety precautions as it is toxic before firing. After much trial and error I finally learned how to consistently and safely work with gold.

The real 22k gold adds a unique touch to each piece, and, just like decorating with slip trailing----Curry's addition of pretty abstracted flowers made from slip---makes humble pottery even more special and meaningful! It's an honor to add this precious medium to your pottery.

Thanks for reading! Sarah

Safety precautions!

Left to Right:

Gold before firing; gold after firing; a finished piece with 22k gold, The Miami

Closeup of Gold Before the Firing

Closeup of Gold After the Firing



I love this! I am new to pottery making and my only concern is that the third firing will alter the glaze done on the second firing. This happened to me when I had to add a little extra glaze to the inside of a small dish I made. When it was fired with the added glaze, the glaze on the whole piece completely changed color. It could be that the glaze I was using is called Iron Lustre and it does leave a rust colored edge on pieces. Do you have any thoughts on this?

Sarah Wilkinson
Sarah Wilkinson
Apr 28, 2023
Replying to

My thoughts would be it probably depends on the glaze/ firing temp. They glazes that we use haven’t seemed to be alter from the lustre firing. Are you glaze firing to cone 6! If you are using low fire clay it is possible the glazes you are using will be more sensitive to 018 then a cone 6 glaze that we use. Thank you for your comment!

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