Currently listing 183 articles in 15 categories!

Latest Articles
You need flash installed to view this header!
To Show or NOT to Show - Get Ready for Ceramic Competition: Article or Project


A ‘show’ is anytime or any place where people get together to ‘show’ or compete for recognition, ribbons or prizes based upon their skill and mastery of ceramics. This can be a local community event, club events, fairs, ceramic trade shows, dealer events, etc. Individuals compete in separate categories and skill levels to help balance awards for beginners to professionals and young versus elderly

More Details


I know, ceramics is just for fun, right? Why be judged? Yes, ceramics IS fun, but shows give you the opportunity to bragging rights over a job well done and most often, input is received as to how you might improve and, for me the best part is the sharing of ideas and methods.


Of course, you want to show off your very best items. Obviously there are certain rules and standards to achieve and these are used when being ‘graded’. Standards for children or beginners are lower than those for professionals who are held to a much higher standard. Therefore, any skill level may qualify for Best In Show, if they meet or exceed the standard for their ‘class’. In addition, if you are a seller, winning will increase your sale-ability and increase your name recognition.


Don’t think you will NEVER compete. In everything you do, make it right and be ready. Here you are, you have a piece that you are really proud of, you just know it is excellent because everyone said so. When you take a piece out of the kiln, or lay down your brush after that last stroke and swell with pride, you may just find…. WOW! I can ‘show’ that!!!!

Always be ready - ready to win and be ready to lose. That ‘perfect’ piece may have one flaw that could disqualify it and you may be left with that sinking feeling “but, but…but…It is so pretty”. So, do every piece as if one day, you might show it in some kind of competition. And if you don't win, don't fret See what you could have done better for next time.

A sound practice is to remember, it all starts with the greenware. If a piece is cast poorly, it will result in poor bisque. If you have poorly cleaned bisque, you will lose points in your judging. Blemishes, seams, pin holes, warping, crooked bottoms, smudged details…all take points away when being judged. Take care to spend the necessary time on your base product, it will pay off in the long run. IF you buy bisque, it is important that you make your purchases from someone credible who will take the time and care needed to give you show quality bisque.


1 Always finish the bottoms. This is a disqualifier. If the bottoms are not finished, they may not be judged. Remove any felt or covering from the bottom. Some judges will remove coverings and other will just disqualify them. (Exception: chess sets or bookends that have been weighted)

2. Know your ‘class’ and ‘category’ and ‘technique’ and make sure you enter your item appropriately. For example you do not want to enter an item finished in Mother of Pearl over-glaze in the technique for drybrushing acrylics This is another disqualifier.

3. Workshop and training seminar items are often not allowed to be shown. This is because the piece was done under the supervision and guidance of a professional step-by-step.


The following classifications are copied from the Ceramic Exhibitors Association Competition Guidelines. Shows not sanctioned by them may have similar but different guidelines, but these are an industry standard **

1. Novice: Someone over the age of 17 that has done ceramics for less than 6 months.
2. Hobbyist: Someone that has done ceramics more than 6 months and hasn’t sold any ceramics or taught a ceramic class.
3. Advanced Hobbyist: Someone that has won 5 or more top Blue Ribbons, a Freddie or a Palette Trophy.
4. Professional: Someone that is an owner of a shop, sold finished ceramic pieces, does production ware, teaches class, or writes a book.
5. Master Professional: Someone that has won one top award, such as the Peggy or Exhibitors Association Artist Award.
6. Senior Professional: Someone that is a Professional that is over 65 years of age.
7. Senior: Someone that is not a Professional and is 65 years and older.
8. Children: Ages 6 and under, 7-10 years, 11-13 years old.
9. Young Adults: 14-17 years of age.
10. Special Needs: Someone that has a disability.


This is where things get both interesting and somewhat tricky.

Category: This will be where the entrant will designate what broad category they want to enter.

Technique: Will be what was done to the piece, such as dry brushing, underglaze, combination glaze and stain. You will notice in the categories shown below, that many have some of the same techniques, for example you can find ‘antiquing’ in glazes, underglazes, and acrylic/stains. Pretty much the same technique or process, just using different products. So it is important that you select the proper category and the correct technique within that category.

One other thing, you will be judged on that 'one' technique, so if you have a piece that is particularly beautiful, but is comprised of several techniques or categories, the item may only be judged on that ONE technique you chose, not always the entire project. In that case, you may want to see if they have an option for ‘combination’


The following is taken from the Ceramic Exhibitors Judging Guidelines **

Category 1 Greenware Adaptation
Technique: 1-A Sprigging– Attaching hand built or cast decoration to a clay body 1-B Texturing– Using any method to create a pattern to change the background 1-C Carving– To bevel a design and create a 3-dimensional pattern 1-D Cut Out- Removing pieces of clay to create a pattern 1-E Clay Lifting– Using a tool to cut into the clay and lift, creating flower petals 1-F Water Carving– Using water to wash away clay to create a design 1-G Applied Decoration– Hand building of flowers or designs attached to a cast clay body 1-H Miscellaneous– Anything that doesn’t fit one of the above techniques

Category 2 Underglaze
Technique: 2-A Opaque– Non translucent 2-B Underglaze Decoration– Glazed or unglazed 2-C Brush Strokes– Design is made by the stroke of the brush 2-D Water Color Background- Adding color to the background of your design 2-E Airbrushing– Using a airbrush to create your design or background 2-F Sgraffito– The act of scratching a design through the color using a tool 2-G Detail– Applying color to a raised design 2-H Antiquing– A method of applying color to a raised design and wiping away 2-I Polished– Polishing damp underglaze with a soft cloth 2-J Miscellaneous– Any combination of these techniques

Category 3 Glaze
Technique: 3-A Transparent and or Translucent - one glaze 3-B Opaque Glaze– one glaze only 3-C Matt Glaze– a dull finish 3-D Crackle– a glaze that produces a netting in the surface of the glaze 3-E Mingled– where two or more glazes are combined with a flowing glaze between 3-F Controlled– Deliberate placement of colors to create a special effect 3-G Glazed in Design- Glaze painted in a design 3-H Texture Glaze– Glaze with a texture added, such as sand 3-I Majolica– Design painted with translucent underglaze or glaze on a matt or satin unfired glaze 3-J Antiquing– Using a glaze to brush on and wipe off embossed areas, then glazing over with translucent glaze 3-K Crystal Glaze– a glaze with particles and chips of color that fuse in firing 3-L Miscellaneous

Category 4 Stain Unfired finish on bisque
Technique: 4-A Opaque Stain Only– not transparent 4-B Translucent Stain– a transparent oil or water base stain 4-C Antiquing with a translucent stain– applying stain and wiping back 4-D Antiquing– with an opaque stain– same as above 4-E Drybrushing removing most of paint from the brush and brushing onto the ware 4-F Airbrushing– using an airbrush to apply color to ware 4-G Metallic– unfired colors with a metallic finish 4-H Brush strokes– Design painted with a brush that shows the stroke of the brush 4-I Sand Painting– Adding sand to the stain and creating a design 4-J Pearl– stain with a pearl finish 4-K Chalking– using chalk over stains to complete the design 4-L Wet Brushing– leaving more paint in the brush and brushing across texture 4-M Miscellaneous

Category 5 Hand-Modeled Clay
Technique: 5-A Wheel Thrown– Clay pieces formed by hand on a potters wheel 5-B Slab– Clay rolled out to an even thickness and formed into a shape 5-C Coil– a rope of clay formed into a shape 5-D Pinch Pot– a pot formed by hand only 5-E Puzzling– ropes of clay laid into a mold to create a form 5-F Draped– an even thickness of clay draped over a form 5-G Sagged– an even thickness of clay laid in a concave mold 5-H Press– small round balls of clay press into a mold to form a design 5-I Jewelry– beads, pendants, and etc. 5-J Englobe decoration– creating your own underglaze using slip and water 5-K Miscellaneous

Category 6 Raku– A way of firing Raku Clay pieces using Raku glazes and firing to temperature and then putting into garbage cans with flammable material
Technique: 6-A Metallic 6-B Crackle 6-C Matt 6-D Gloss 6-E Combination 6-F Horse Hair 6-G Glaze with Glass Frit 6-H Smoke Fire 6-I Airbrushing 6-J Miscellaneous

Category 7 Porcelain
Technique: 7-A Lace Draping– Cotton lace dipped into porcelain slip and applied to a porcelain greenware figurine or other porcelain greenware 7-B Hand-built flowers 7-C Carved– using a tool to carve a design in the greenware 7-D Sprigging– attaching hand built flowers to a piece of greenware 7-E Airbrushing– Appling color with an airbrush 7-F China paint– Appling china paint to bisque 7-G Jewelry– earrings, rings, pendants, watches 7-H Figurines– bisque figurines poured and painted by entrant 7-I Miscellaneous

Category 8 Overglaze
Technique: 8-A China Paint– on china blanks 8-B China Paint– on cast earthenware, low fire 8-C Enamel– fired to cone 016-018, a low fired medium that produces a design when fired over a matured glaze 8-D Fired Luster– An iridescent or colored luster finish fired at a temperature according to manufactures recommendation 8-E Fired Metallic– Such as gold, platinum, or copper 8-F Decal– An overglaze design fired to the ware at low temperature 8-G Airbrush Luster’s 8-H Airbrush Metallic’s 8-I Miscellaneous

Category 9 Stoneware Cast
Technique: 9-A Low Fired Bisque– with underglaze (englobe) decoration 9-B Low Fired Bisque- with glaze 9-C Low Fired Bisque– with glaze and overglaze 9-D High Fired Bisque– up to cone 10 9-E High Fired Bisque– with (englobe) underglaze decoration 9-F High Fired Bisque– with glaze 9-G High Fired Bisque—with glaze and overglaze 9-H Miscellaneous

Category 10 Glass
Technique: 10-A Sagged Glass- when glass is placed in a concave form and fired 10-B Sagged Glass that has a Painted Design– with glass paint 10-C Laminated Glass– when two or more layers of glass are fired together - May have color or other material between 10-D Decorated with Enamels 10-E Decorated with Glass Paints 10-F Decorated with Glass Lusters & or Metallic Glass Paint 10-G Fired Decals 10-H Glass Plaques– Scene depicted with different Color glass 10-I Fired Glass and Clay Combination 10-J Glued Glass and Clay Combination– where the glass is glued to the fired clay 10-K Glass Jewelry 10 –L Glass Mobiles 10–M Glass Mosaics-No commercial tiles or kits 10-N Miscellaneous

Category 11 Decoupage on Ceramic Bisque
Technique: 11-A Commercial Prints 11-B Hand Colored Prints 11-C Original drawing and colored 11-D Paper Tole– The use of several prints to make a 3 dimensional 11-E Repousse– Design is raised and stuffed 11-F Montage– A composition from many pictures or designs closely arranged 11-G Miscellaneous

Category 12 Mosaics ( no commercial tiles or kits)
Technique: 12-A Creative Mosaics, glazed 12-B Carved Mosaics 12-C Simulated Mosaics, Glazed– The breaking up of the plain surface into small areas with incised lines or raised, beaded lines to imitate a mosaic 12-D Simulated Mosaics, Stained 12-E Miscellaneous

** Excerpts from the Exhibitors Association Judging Guidelines are reprinted with permission. To view the complete guideline manual visit:


Article/Project Pictures:

This article currently has 0 pictures.

Contact us about this Article Tell a Friend about this Article Printer Friendly Version

Jump to Category:

Other Articles in this Category:

Glaze Dilema - Old vs New - Glazes Buyer's Guide: Why Ceramic Items Are Priced So High About Brushes Ceramics - A New Generation Tips on Finishing Ceramics for Outside Use