Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Purple Waterfall Glaze?

About a year ago, I took a glaze making class with my local ceramic supplier, in hopes of learning some basic theory. It was helpful, no doubt, but there is SO MUCH seat of the pants knowledge that this requires. It's not something you can simply learn in one class, but rather, you need a lifetime of experience with glaze chemicals in order to know what you're doing.

How will a Red Iron Oxide wash behave under a white glaze? What will the addition of Chrome do to a recipe? Can I mix a white and a black glaze to achieve a gray color? The only way to know is to TEST, TEST, TEST, and even then, different clay bodies will give you different answers. Even different kilns will give you different results. Even different cooling rates can change everything.

To a beginner, it's a daunting challenge to absorb all this.

There is a certain elegance to the art of glaze making . There's no guessing, no "oh, let's add a dash of this" sort of experimentation. It's sort of like cooking, but not. Precision is perfecrtion. Pull out your triple beam scale and take notes. Take GOOD notes.

So imagine my surprise when I opened the kiln a couple of days ago and got a purple version of John Hesselberth and Ron Roy's Waterfall Brown. Gorgeous violet purple. Completely unplanned purple. Purple without notes purple.

It started by having a little extra shelf space in the top of my kiln load. I didn't have much, but there was a spot I wanted to fill, so I picked up a small medallion tile that I had fired a few months ago. I didn't like the way it turned out, and had stuck it on a shelf, trying to decide what to do with it.

Fast forward to this week, when I mixed up a batch of Nutmeg and White Satin glaze, my newest project. These glazes can be combined to mimic a wood fired look, and I had already thrown a few test tiles into this kiln, just for a little extra research.

I took that medallion, painted it with the Nutmeg, and sure enough.... purple. WTF Purple, which is what I may name it, if I ever figure out what the hell I did.

Which brings me back to my glaze making class. I remember one employee at the ceramic store told me a story of a glaze test he did - he could never reproduce the exact color of it ever again. EVER. He wasn't sure if his notes were bad, or his chemicals had changed, or whatever. All he knew was that he was on a quest to reproduce that, and after MANY, MANY attempts, he still wasn't any closer.

So even though I managed to achieve a lovely Purple Waterfall Glaze, Who knows if I'm going to be able to repeat it. Oy.

One more thing... here are a couple of small soy bowls with some interesting results of the WF glaze:


Sumi Leigh Casey said...

So did you ever figure out what you did to get that gorgeous purple???

Sumi Leigh Casey said...

So did you ever figure out what you did to get that gorgeous purple???

Andrea said...

Did you ever figure out how you got this purple?