Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wood Fired?

It's important to know your materials, whether you're working with wood or clay. As many readers here might know, I've done extensive testing with the WaterFall glazes from the book "Mastering Cone Six Glazes" by John Hesselberth and Ron Roy. You may have to scroll back a bit through the archives, but you'll be able to see many of the colors I've developed.

And while that particular glaze continues to fascinate, challenge and surprise me, I must admit after 200+ tests, I needed a break! It had gotten to the point where I knew the base recipe by heart, much like I know my favorite cookie recipe.

When you can mix something up in your sleep, you know you've had too much exposure.

I was scouring through some old Ceramics Monthly magazines and something caught my eye in the February 2003 issue. Richard Busch wrote a fascinating article about his work developing a glaze that would makes pots look like they'd been wood fired. I remember standing there in my studio, mouth wide open at the lovely photos of his work. I was hooked.

There might be someone out there wondering why anyone would want to try this when... well, why not just fire a kiln with wood? Here in the desert, the drought has scorched our land. That's not even taking into account the restrictions on kiln firing within city limits. It's simply not a practical option for me.

Of course, anyone who pots knows that you can't just mix up some glaze and hope for the same results. Variables in clay bodies and glaze materials will produce different results for different people. Back to the drawing board for me.

In his article, Richard Busch gives three recipes, and a variety of tips for achieving what many people will have a hard time distinguishing isn't actually a wood fired piece. Only when the bottom of a pot is examined can someone discover that the unglazed clay body hasn't been reduced.

His White Satin Matt Glaze and his Nutmeg glaze can be mixed together and applied in various ratios, depending on the "toastiness" you desire. Also, these glazes can be layered on top of one another for different effects. Finally, he gives a recipe entitled "Sybil's black stain, for adding some brushwork and/or simulating the errant floating specs that occur in wood fired work.

Below are my experiments.

Above tiles are test #1, and are a 50/50 mixture of the White and Nutmeg glazes.

Pictured above is sample #2, which contains 1/3 White and 2/3 Nutmeg. The golden colors are rich and black stain pops out nicely.

I'm not sure if the above samples are that helpful, but these are glazes #1 and 2 dipped. The application was probably too thin; I will probably retest these using thicker glazes next time. Both tests are on the glossy side.

The above tiles (#3) are are glazed with a mixture of 2/3 White Satin and 1/3 Nutmeg. The color is a little too light for my taste, and because the white is predominant, it is more matte.

Test #4 (above) finally starts approaching what I wanted - a deep golden, toasty color. This glaze consists of 25% White Satin and 75% Nutmeg. This version seems to work best when applied heavy.

Dipped versions of #3 and 4. Once again, the glaze was probably applied too thin on these samples. I will retest all the dipped pieces.

There are so many possibilities with these glazes, and as time permits, I'll be testing and working out the fit on my clay body.

PS... I'm editing this post because I've located Richard Busch. He runs
Glenfiddich Farm Pottery, outside Leesburg, Virginia, and his site has some lovely examples of his work.

1 comment:

A Davis said...

How interesting. I just mixed up test samples of these two glazes myself. Your tests look great. I really love your glaze posts. Thanks for a great blog. A Davis