Wednesday, April 6, 2011

In the Beginning...

And so it begins!

This is the first official post in a series of writings I will be doing on my approach to glaze testing and how it informs the development of my work. I have two separate things on the go right now, and this post will deal with the first one.

In the beginning comes the first hint of an idea. This is where my sketch book and a giant box of pencil crayons come in handy. My mind has been juggling several different things for a while now. First of all, I've been studying my new line of work and can't seem to shake the urge to draw flowers all over it. This is not new for me. I love pattern, and am very attracted to the idea of layering, with inspiration coming from both the fashion industry and fancy-schmancy wallpapers. So here's what my brain spits out:

A window of glossy stripes with a flower in the corner, to go with my slate matte glaze that I'm totally in love with despite all its flaws. But the longer I looked at this image, the more I realized it doesn't work. At all.

So the other thing that has been whirring around in my brain is how to combine the two, very distinct, lines of work that I have going on right now. So that got me thinking about adding some Arabesque lines rather than the flowers. And here's where that idea took me:


Which then led to these:

And these:

These images got me rather excited so now begins to process of determining how to go about translating these images onto the clay. I'm pretty sure I want to go with some black underglaze, or maybe even some black glaze for the Arabesque lines and the pinstripes. As for the colored glazes, at this point I'm thinking maybe some kind of interesting matte glaze in the narrow stripes, and a crackle glaze in the wider stripes. The colors I'm interested in are a soft pink, maybe a burgundy, or Merlot color, a medium blue, and a vibrant turquoise for the crackle glaze. For the matte glaze, I'm interested in perhaps a lime green, an orange, or maybe even some crazy red.

Getting an idea of the colors I'm after will help determine what type of base glazes I want to start testing. As for the crackle glaze, I just happen to have a soft pink crackle that I had been using on Christmas ornaments, the color coming from erbium, one of the rare earth metals. As for the burgundy and Merlot, I'll definitely need to use stains. Okay. No problem there. But because of the nature of those colors, I need to make sure my base glaze is compatible with the stains to get the color I'm after. Enough calcium. Check. High in the alkaline department. Also check.

Here's the glaze recipe I'll start my testing with:
it's called Kittens Clear Gloss, attributed to Kathy King:

Nepheline Syenite: 30
Wollastonite: 8
Gerstley Borate: 21
EPK: 10
Flint: 31
Strontium Carbonate: 15

As for the mattes I'll try, I want something with more visual interest, not just a matte surface. I have a recipe called Val Cushing's Cry, which a dry, sparkly matte, and another recipe that's a stunning barium matte called Super Dry Matte.

Here's those recipes:

Val Cushing's Cry:
Silica: 10
Nepheline Syenite: 25
NC-4 Feldspar: 25
Zinc: 25
Titanium Dioxide: 5
Whiting: 10
(now even though this one has a bunch of zinc in it - which can be detrimental to colour - I figure I'd give it a try anyways. What can I say. I like the sparkles.)

Super Dry Matte:
Nepheline Syenite: 59.6
Barium Carbonate: 21.1
Calcined Kaolin: 7.7
Flint: 5.8
Lithium Carbonate: 5.8

I've obviously got a lot of tests to mix up. I have on hand some Blackberry Wine stain, some Deep Crimson stain, some praseodymium oxide, some orange stain, some crazy red stain, some cobalt, some copper and some chrome to get me started. So stay tuned! If you have any questions about the glazes, feel free to ask away!


  1. Thanks for posting. It is fun to read through someone else's creative musings - and have the bonus of recipes, too!

  2. Hi Melissa - I always enjoy reading your blog - not many potters out there fuss with glazes as much, but I can certainly relate...I guess misery loves company!! But the thrill of discovery is so fine!