© 2019 Kest Pottery Studio.

"Yo! Science, bitches!"

October 10, 2019

Over the summer, I asked my good friend and pottery mentor at the York Town Craft Guild, Bill Thompson, what he thought about experimenting with mixing glazes from scratch. I'd gotten to a point where I was becoming curious about the chemistry and having more control over the surface appearance of my ceramic work, plus I wanted to cut down on the costs of my glazes. Commercial glazes are expensive but worth it for the reliability-- so Bill told me. The Guild's previous master potter, Hugo Fiorio, had a book of glazes he'd developed over a lifetime, and I was eager to try some of those out. Alas, these were all Cone 10 glazes and completely useless to me for firing my ware at Cone 6.

 

Disappointed, I mulled it over for several months and started to do some research. Well-known ceramists and authors of articles on the big ceramic sites post recipes and offer suggestions, but it wasn't until I found Digitalfire.com, Tony Hanson's excellent site, that I became convinced that I just *had* to make my own glazes. The site is a crash course in glaze chemistry and the glaze calculator is a complete gift. Mr. Hanson is a glaze chemist in the ceramics industry and the way Industry does things is completely different and more rigorous. Want to know how to make a properly melting matte glaze that's not underfired? Or convert a glaze from ^10 to ^6? Want to prevent crazing? All of this info and more is available through the 1000 or so articles Mr. Hanson has written about how to formulate a glaze and how to interpret the values within the glaze calculator.

 

      Channeling my inner Walter White

 

Armed with information and more confidence, I sallied forth and bought a small supply of dry materials to stock my nascent glaze pantry. A pint of commercial glaze can be $12- 20 but mixing your own is much cheaper! As you can see, a respirator is a good idea as the fine particles of powdered clay, kaolin, talc, feldspar, and oxides can be hazardous to your lungs. And with the online glaze calculator, I'm now able to design stable glazes I want from scratch that will work. I begin the glaze testing phase soon and will be happy to report back on my progress.

 

Ciao!

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