Sunday, June 17, 2012

Seeing Red

My husband has been bitten with the glaze chemistry bug! Which is exciting because this means I have someone to get nerdy with in the glaze kitchen;)

We've been working together to create some electric fired, cone six, copper reds and are getting great results.

This is something we have both been toying with off and on (but mostly off) for the past 10 years. Iron reds always seemed too muddy and the copper reds in the electric kiln always seemed so elusive. We decided to try again on a whim, and it was one of those "what the hell" kind of moments in the glaze kitchen that led to the first results:

While this one came out mostly greenish (as one would expect from copper) we started getting some purples on the top, and where the three test glazes pooled in the center there was some shocking red.

The second test piece from that first firing, while turquoise on one side, the other side was definitely leaning towards red.  I honestly didn't think we'd get ANY interesting results out of our first coordinated attempt hunting copper red in an electric kiln so to say I was surprised is perhaps an understatement.

So next came how to smooth out that red colour from our second test piece. We needed to get rid of the blotches and push the red more to real red, and less pink. Here's what came out of the next firing:

The red COMPLETELY disappeared in the glaze test on the right, and the one on the top left went matte and was an interesting shade of dark wine. The bottom left was definitely getting closer. This gave us an idea of the direction we needed to focus in on. So...
Onwards and upwards! Here's the next batch of tests: 

 There's three different base glazes on this test piece. While they all came out red-ish, we decided to narrow our search down to one glaze recipe. We picked the red-est glaze and continued to play. At this point, we had narrowed down our testing to four different things within our glaze formula that seemed to be affecting our red. Here's what came out next:

Now I realize the images may be very difficult to discern on a computer screen, but I can assure you we were pleased with where things are headed. Here's some close ups of where we will focus our fine tuning even more:

The nerd in me loves this aspect of pottery! My background in science certainly comes in handy. And I'm not gonna lie, it's nice to have a partner in crime!


  1. Excellent work! Will you post recipes when you come up with a finished product? It would be really interesting to see what changes you made each step of the way. I'm just starting some glaze mixing (^6 ox.) so I'm trying to learn as much as I can. I'll stick with the blues and browns for now but someday I'll have to try some red. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I too am obsessed with copper reds (among other glazes!)!!! Check out my blog at
    Keep me posted!
    From Australia