Ceramic Question

Maybe someone in the Community who works with Ceramics can answer this? I believe that the Glowforge can etch ceramic tile. Is it possible to etch a pattern in tile or even a plate and then fill the etched area with glazing medium and re-fire the piece to cure the area that was etched and re-glazed?

I love brainstorming projects ideas while I wait!

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You can etch a tile. The GF team has done it and shown the result. But the resulting etch is not deep at all. More of a shattering or ablating of the top layer. Gives good contrast but my guess is the depth is not really measurable.

Yes, I thought that you could etch, but was not sure of the depth. Thanks for the info on that. What I really wondered was if any ceramic experts could comment on whether the exposed area would hold new glaze in a contrasting color and if the piece could be re-fired to set the glaze.

I’ve wondered the same thing, too. Particularly if the etched areas are rough enough to “capture” a layer of glaze, so a gentle wipe of the surface would remove the newly applied glaze only from the non-etched areas, but not the etched ones.

In addition to the existing comments: I’ve checked with my ceramic expert (my daughter) and this is a summary of what she told me.

From a ceramic standpoint, a second firing should not be a problem unless you are firing at cone 10 or higher temperature, in which case the ceramic may crack in the second firing.

From a glaze standpoint, assuming the etched area has broken the glaze surface the new glaze should stick. This may still have to be hand painted as applying glaze to the entire surface then wiping the excess off of the non-etched area will likely wipe most of the glaze off of the etched area as well. Assuming you can get enough glaze applied to the etched area, here is where the problems really begin.

There will still be some of the original glaze under the new glaze and obviously around the area. The way the old and new glazes interact may in my daughters terminology lead to very wacky results. The glazes may just run together creating a mud puddle or the new glaze may not even stick to the old glaze that is under it.

Basically there are to many factors to make specific statements, but it never hurts to try and you may end up with something that works very well or at least produces something very interesting, not necessarily what you wanted.


I have a silly question. Can you use a laser to fire the glaze? I’m not sure if it is possible or not; but if it is possible, you might be able to do some cool stuff with that.

I have doubts about that, (but i don’t know) because the ceramic below the tile is cold whereas normally the glaze is present when the slip is vitrified in the kiln, so the surface is very hot.
The laser may harden the glaze, but adhesion might be a problem.


Lots of "What if I try . . " followed by a bunch of trial and error. For me, that’s part of the fun process of being a Creative Maker.

June seems so close, yet so far away.


I came across this a while back, a cold casting ceramic that is designed to take laser engraving:



I like the sounds of this…and what might be done with it. Thanks

This opens up another possibility. If the hardened glaze didn’t stick, but held up to being gently moved, maybe it could be adhered to another substrate as a glazed decoration.

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Thinking about what liquid/paste might harden when painted with a laser…
Enamel has been mentioned, but the air movement would likely blow it around… unless "Clearfire"that you moisten it with would hold it.

I am thinking about trying some of the newfangled liquid enamels that are available.
There are some that are for copper/fine silver and some that will work on steel and even stainless.

I know Thompson makes some: http://thompsonenamel.com/product-category/enamel-supplements/liquid-form-enamels/


Another thought is to try using a the glowforge on ceramics when they are still in the “greenware” (i.e. dry but unfired) or “bisque” (one low fire prior to glazing) stages. The material will be much softer, and you might be able to get a deeper engraving. There are lots of cool ceramics techniques that revolve around using colored slips (liquid clay) and dipping the greenware into them and then scratching through, or scratching and dipping and then wiping off the extra slip.
There are just so many things to experiment with, and so few Glowforges! :slight_smile:


Interesting material, may lend itself to some unique applications.
Thanks for the link!