The plate on the left is pre-fire, the one on the bottom is post firing. Very, very different! The glazes we use for the majority of pieces are called under-glaze; they're essentially pigmented clay. An under-glaze doesn't run, and the color in the bottle is at least semi-representative of what it will look like when completed. Pink looks pink, purple looks purple and so forth. The intensity of the color is what changes after being fired, but for the most part, you can get an idea of what it will probably look like when done.
Obviously, the finished piece here doesn't exactly look like the one at the beginning of the process. For starters, it looks like terracotta with bits of stuff stuck in it. Secondly, the polar bears do not look the same from start to finish. They're a little fuzzy. The snow on the bottom of the piece is a white under-glaze with a little grey added (all bisque unpainted fires white), and I wanted there to be some definition between the snow and the bears without the bears being painted yellow. Also, the color is drastically different, and there appear to be little explosions of color in the finished piece. I used for the top part of this plate a true glaze, which is effectively pulverized glass. Clay doesn't run when fired; Glass runs a marathon. I knew from the example tiles that the bits of stuff would result in a puddle of something unusual; what I didn't know was exactly how it would turn out. I think that's the beauty of a pottery or crystalline glaze; it's absolute unpredictability and resulting uniqueness. I chose this crystalline glaze because I wanted to achieve something like the night sky without having to paint stars. It reminds me a little more of falling snow, and for the bears, I feel that is a better setting. In any case, I hope the recipient likes it.
Here is another picture of a pre-fire. This used exclusively under-glazes. It is a gift for some friends, who will appreciate my sentimentality when they see themselves on top of the bluff. It was shamelessly rendered from the image on the right, and I'm a little nervous about how it will come out of the kiln. Did I get the ocean right? Are the trees the right color? Will you be able to tell that I put a couple on the mountain instead of a lone hiker? Will there be any differentiation in the land and islands on the horizon, or is the color not mixed with enough of another tone? Did I miss a spot?! Only 24 hours will tell. That's how long it takes for a kiln to properly cycle.