Guide to Understanding Glazes

What is glaze variation? Great question. Why do some glazes have the same name with just different letters after the number? These are actually very common questions we’re going to go over with some examples to get you understanding glazes and to teach you how to be the tile pro you’ve always wanted to be!

Talk to me about glaze names.

Have you noticed an “E” or “W” or “R” after the numbers of our glazes?

E is White Earthenware clay. It’s smooth, almost like porcelain.
W is for White Sculpture clay, it’s more of a coarse clay and conveys more texture and subtle dimension in the glaze finish.
R is for Red Sculpture clay
Clay Body

Let’s take a closer look.
22E Blue Opal is on the fine Earthenware clay. The color goes on smooth and the glaze has a thinner look.
22W Blue Opal is on White Sculpture clay, and looks similar to the earthenware but with a little more grit. This clay also has a warmer tone.
22R Blue Opal is on Red Clay and is the easiest to distinguish as you can see the exposed clay is a dark reddish brown. Depending on the opacity of the glaze, this can show through the clay to offer beautiful tone and variation!

Let’s take Sea Mist for example…

Here is an example of grouted tile in our Moroccan Fish Scales on two different clay bodies to give a slightly different look.
1017E Sea Mist (notice the “E”) is shown here with a range of variation and a watery finish.

1017W Sea Mist (see the “W”) looks very similar, but with slightly different tones and a rougher finish.
Sea Mist Variation

It’s important to remember that every glaze is different and has its own personality! Some glazes are thicker and look very similar on different clay bodies, and some react differently in the kilns and can vary on different clay bodies. This is why we’ve put together some helpful info for you on our Colors page. Each color has its own little gauge that tells you how much variation it is known to have, and if the finish is glossy, matte, crackle or satin.

What About Glaze Finish?

Different glazes have different finishes: matte, satin, crackle or glossy. Each type has its own personality and can be great for different circumstances. Matte glazes are great for a subtle or earthy effect. Glossy glazes are great at reflecting the light which allows the colors to pop! Satin is a nice, smooth finish in the middle. Don’t feel limited to selecting glazes that all have the same finish—tile projects that include multiple finishes are encouraged for a beautiful overall palette!

Glaze FinishIf you like the color of a glaze that happens to be glossy but want it to be matte, unfortunately we cannot wave our magic wands to make it so. BUT, since we have a team of glaze gurus, we can suggest colors depending on the finish and hue that you are looking for!

What Does Glaze Variation Mean?

This is a very common question we receive! One of the most desired qualities of handmade tile is its glaze variation – the different tones and hues that come in even just one glaze. Because we glaze every tile by hand and put them in our kilns, this subjects them to have slight differences in each firing. As a result the colors that come out have a beautiful range to them, no two tiles are exactly the same. Like looking at a field full of flowers, every flower is slightly different and that is what makes them unique! This is also how you can tell it’s natural! Commercial tile has a tendency to look sterile or bland by being all the exact same color and tone. As with glaze finish, we cannot guarantee any specific amount of variation in any glaze. This is the excitement of handmade tile!
Glaze Variation

1017W Sea Mist, as we showed above in Moroccan Fish Scales, is a beautiful glaze with a wide range of variation! Believe it or not, all of these tiles are on ONE clay body and are hand glazed with ONE color.
Sea Mist Variation
Have you seen this popular bathroom with our tile? This shower uses Moroccan Fish Scales in 1017E Sea Mist. That’s it! We’re in love.
Moroccan Fish Scale

Here are some more examples of tiles that offer a wide range of variation!
Light Grey Variation
2″x4″ Subway Tile815W Light Grey | Stone Mountain Grey Fireplace

Old Copper Variation
3″x12″ Subway Tile913 Old Copper | White Bear Lake Mosaic Bathroom

123R Patina
2″x2″ Small Squares | 2″x4″ Field Tile123R PatinaCraftsman Green Entry Floor

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