Wax Resist



Robin M. MacKay:

I’ve tried Aftosa and whatever Highwater sells. The problem is it doesn’t seem to get hard enough to handle. Sometimes bits of it stick to my fingers pulling off a very thin layer of glaze with it causing a blotchy surface…even if I wait a day. Here’s a pic of what I mean. I need something that dries hard enough to hold onto…been thinking about acrylic medium. Thanks.

Eric Newman:

Things I’ve found that help: let the resist dry for at least a day; add a hardener (e.g., CMC) to the glaze so it isn’t dusty; dust fingers with corn starch so they aren’t as tacky.


Hot wax

Mixing parafin with kerosene:

Bill Merrill via Clayart:

Because of ease of use, most potters use Aftosa wax resist. I have a very well ventilated studio thathas large doors open so the studio is like its outside. I use Aftosa, but prefer a mixture of kerosene and paraffin. I melt the wax in an electric frying pan and add kerosene to the mix. I use it at 280 degrees test the mix on a piece of broken bisque ware. If it is too greasy, I add some more wax. It by liquid volume. The kerosene is less than the wax by volume. If it doesnt brush well (using a brush that holds wax easily) I add a little more kerosene. This should not be done with an open burner, as the mixture could ignite! This wax is super resistant to glaze.

Vince Pitelka via Clayart:

As a studio potter in the last century I did all my waxing with hot paraffin, but did not like the way the pure wax brushed on so I thinned it a bit with kerosene. I built a special fume hood over the wax pot so I wouldn’t die from the fumes and I set the pot at 180 degrees - no hotter. A better solution is to thin the wax with mineral oil - that way the fumes are no more toxic than the wax itself, but you still shouldn’t be breathing it. You can experiment with the amount of mineral oil added to the wax and find the happy spot where you get a durable coat but it brushes on to your satisfaction.

Safely heating the wax

Kathi Lesueur via Clayart:

I also use a small electric frying pan for my wax. I dont thing anything beats hot wax when youve put one glaze on a pot and want to mask out an area before pouring another on. One thing I have learned is to bring the temperature up slowly. Turn it on at a low setting.
When the wax has completely melted turn it up about five degrees. Then another five until you reach the temperature that is optimum. If you turn it on high right from the beginning you are guaranteed to have smoking wax. And, as Bonnie said, keep that lid close. The same goes with a fire on the stove. Baking soda will put a flame out. But, a lid is far faster. Keep one handy.

Fire Hazard

Bill Merrill via Clayart:

If you use the hot wax be very cautious of the heat and fumes. I know a potter who was working with a regular frying pan and the wax ignited. He used pliers to get the pan out of the studio. He really burned his hands, so be extra cautious if you try this old fashioned wax resist.

I always keep the lid to the electric fry pan nearby when using hot wax. If a fire starts, using a hot pad, put the lid on the fry pan which should extinguish the flames immediately. Carrying a flaming pot of wax is asking for disaster as the wax could spill spreading the fire further. When
heating my paraffin, I use just the highest WARM temperature and if still too thick, then add the oil until it becomes the right melt at that temperature.


Walter Ivan Heath:

You need the glaze/body to be dry with shellac, thin it with denatured alcohol so it flows well through a Japanese brush…it drys very quickly…it’s wonderful stuff, I use it with mica pigments on my drums…it will even stick to Formica, nothing else will

Liquid Latex

J. B. Clauson via Clayart:

I purchase liquid latex at local art supply houses. It paints on easily and peels off just as easily. I use it when I want fine control over the area I want left uncovered. I have not tried to cut a shape after painting it on to see if it will peel easily, leaving the decoration in tact.
Down side - if you leave liquid latex on pot when you fire, it burns off ok and doesnt seem to cause any ill effects in the final firing - but, boy, does it stink when it burns off. Probably really noxious stuff, so I avoid putting it in the kiln if t all possible.

Cat Jarosz via Clayart:

Liquid Latex is great stuff but it has a few rules… you need murphys oil soap for your brush or you wont have a brush left after your done and you should thin out the latex with water first… fool around with how much as you may be able to get away with really thin depending on what your doing its also easier to use the thinner it is. ps dip your brush in murphys oil soap before you begin then go for it …

Water-based latex

Recommended by Mickey Fielding:

Water-base latex, bar none, for things that no wax, acrylic, or shellac can accomplish. I’ll be happy to share my tips for using it and not ruining brushes. :blush: BTW, it’s also perfect for masking over textured surfaces.


Michelman Wax Resist



Forbes is a water-based wax that has a milky, translucent quality. It’s really good for waxing the bottoms of pots and rims. The brushing quality is great and it dries very quickly. Forbes can be used on greenware for single firing and bisqueware. Once dry, it has a firm non-sticky surface that resists glazes very well. Any glaze that does stick to the wax cleans up quickly with a damp sponge. If the wax is hard to see after it has dried, try adding some food coloring. Just mix a little dye right in with the wax, it will be easier to tell where wax has been applied. The color will burn out during the firing.

Mobilcer A

Mobilcer A is a solvent-free mix of wax and emulsion. Mobilcer wax is thicker and more opaque than Forbes wax. It can be thinned with a small amount of water to improve brushability. If you want to do wax resist glazing with multiple glazes, Mobilcer is the best choice. Forbes wax will not stick to an unfired glazed surface. It will peel up after a few minutes. Mobile, on the other hand, will stick to an unfired glaze and resist subsequent glaze layers. Because it is thicker than Forbes, Mobilcer wax takes a little longer to dry and stays a bit tacky. Be careful not to put the wax on excessively thick, a thin coat will do and help it dry quicker. If your wax separates during storage, shake well before using.

As for oils and soups here’s an option Soap & Melt White. You can look for it there. I prefer blended one.