I haven’t yet ‘dipped my toe’ into making glazes, but I have gotten hold of some books and have dowloaded the glazy app, so I intend make a start on creating a simple base glaze and then adding colours in small increments to see what effect that has. At present I rely on commercial glazes which are mainly brush on. When I have used a dipping glaze, these have been purchased as a premixed bag of dry ingredients. I will blog about
I used the Ceramics Departments clear and white stoneware glazes in combination with different oxides on the textured tiles I had created during the first week on the MA.
These tiles were given an application of a variety of different oxide washes. I used Copper oxide, Red Iron Oxide, Cobalt Oxide and Yellow Ochre & black Iron Oxide. The tiles were then dipped a third in clear glaze, a third in white glaze and the centre left unglazed with just oxide showing. The results were interesting, was good to see how the glazes and oxide broke over the texture, I think I applied the black and copper oxides to heavily as they came out very dark in places. It was good to see how the white glaze reacted with the oxides. I have used oxides before but only in a very limited way, I hadn’t appreciated how strong the colours are and how they can create both bright shades of green and blue as well as deep metallic tones depending on the level of application. All these were fired in oxidation and I was really encouraged to experiment further.
I am also planning to create my own glazes as well, although commercial glazes are fairly reliable in terms of consistent results, they can be easily replicated by other ceramic artists and you could have work that has a glaze finish very similar to another artist. A good glaze can make or break a pot, and it’s important that whatever surface finish I choose it reflects the overall desired outcome of the work aesthetically and narratively and the only way I can realistically achieve this is by creating my own glazes.
Having the opportunity to learn about the origin of glaze ingredients and the core components that work together to make up a glaze, a flux, a stabiliser and a glass former really helped to de-mystify the process of glaze creation and made me feel less daunted about having a go, so watch this space!
I have two kilns in my studio, they both have a digital controller which enables me to create bespoke programs with several segments to suit whatever ware I am firing. The problem with firing ceramics is that there are so many variables it can make your head spin! I have had my fair share of problems with firing work, trying to navigate your way around ceramic forums, specialist websites like Digital Fire to get the optimal firing for your work is a minefield. Every kiln is different, the age of the elements, density of the kiln bricks, size of kiln, how it’s loaded and how well its calibrated all have an effect on the overall firing results, and this is just oxidation firings, so most of the firing schedules I do are mainly through trial and error. I have never fired anything in gas reduction, or a wood fired kiln and have had one very limited experience of Raku firing.
It can be hard to know how to problem solve when things go wrong, and I found the session on glazing and firing really helpful in helping me to understand why some of the issues I have been experiencing may have occurred.
I was really confused about quartz inversion and when ware can be at risk of cracking in a kiln, I thought a firing schedule had to go slowly both up and down through quartz inversion, as it turns out it.s more important that this happens during cooling rather than heating, especially for wide and flat pieces of ware so I have made changes as a consequence of this. Also I thought I was firing work slowly and when I looked at the schedules used at Uni I was no where near! So again I have altered my own firings, especially for thicker, larger pieces.
I also found the colour guide useful in helping me to gauge what the temperature inside the kiln is by the colour of the heat glow. I guess that it’s easy to become reliant on digital controllers and electric thermocouples, but understanding what’s going on by observation will be really helpful as I plan to do some alternative firing at home, and gauging the temperature is often done through the colour of the heat work in the kiln.