Saturday, May 16, 2009

Glazed Over

I haven't done much writing recently about what I'm actually doing in the studio. We've been throwing, trimming and firing (bisque). Wednesday and Thursday were the first days of glazing. I measured out some test glazes that Jennie and I are excited to try.

Glazing is one of my favorite processes in pottery. There are chemistry classes devoted entirely to ceramic glazes, not in art school! I tried to audit one in college but "they" told me it was too advanced to comprehend the basics of the class! I was skeptical and tried to argue but they wouldn't budge. All of the powder chemicals in the picture to the left are used for making glazes. Copper, iron, and cobalt are the most basic "colors" in glazes but the range of possibilities really is endless.

I hear a lot of people say "paint" rather than glaze. Glaze is not paint. You are not merely coating a pot. It is a chemical change. The chemical powders are mixed together, water is added and the new mixture is sifted twice (100 mesh!) to get rid of clumps. The potter dips, pours, brushes, sprays, blows, squirts (or any other manner of applying the glaze) the pot with one or more glaze. The usual bland color of the chalky coating of glaze after dipping a pot, or even the color of the batch of liquid in the bucket, is not the color of the result. There are extremely simple combination's like Gerstley Borate, a flux or melting agent, and Iron Oxide, a colorant. But from there potters have combined any number of chemicals, all active in the glaze in a different way.

In the kiln, the heat and oxygen combine to change the chalky chemical combination into glass! Because bisque-ware is some what porous, the glaze completely adheres and becomes one with the pot.

Jennie spent a couple years developing and honing the glaze that she uses for most of her pieces - the red that you saw in the previous post. As you can see, she does her own variation of Asian brush work on many of her pots. I am working on how to transform my line drawings into something that would complement a 3D form ... we'll see what comes out of that!

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