A Potter's Perspective on Art, Nature, Ceramics, and Science
My name is Matt and I'm a potter living in Southeast Alaska. I've been an artist/teacher/potter for the past decade, and I got my start in ceramics in high school some 18 years ago. These days I make my living selling wheel thrown pottery that sits at the intersection of ceramics/science/mineralogy/and geology.
You might notice that this one has a significant addition of Cobalt, half and half Custer (Potash) and F4 (Soda) Feldspars, calcined talc, and 2% Manganese. Typical that I changed too many things to give a really useful side-by-side comparison. But I suppose when I’m coming up with new variations, that’s always been my style.
Some observations on this one:
Cobalt goes a long way and pretty dramatically alters an oilspot. With a .25%-.5% addition you get a nice shift from brown and russet glaze matrix to a darker solid black glass. Beyond 1% you can get some really nice silvery qualities to the spots. The drawback is that the more you add, the more refractory the glaze tends to get – and the longer it takes for the glazes to heal.
For those of you who are really interested in Oil Spots, there’s an article from 2014 that I think is worth a long look. This particular article was what got me interested in SEM microscopy when I was in Grad School:
Ancient Jian wares are famous for their lustrous black glaze that exhibits unique colored patterns. Some striking examples include the brownish colored “Hare’s Fur” (HF) strips and the silvery “Oil Spot” (OS) patterns. Herein, we investigated the glaze surface of HF and OS samples using a variety of characterization methods. Contrary to the commonly accepted theory, we identified the presence of ε-Fe2O3, a rare metastable polymorph of Fe2O3 with unique magnetic properties, in both HF and OS samples. We found that surface crystals of OS samples are up to several micrometers in size and exclusively made of ε-Fe2O3. Interestingly, these ε-Fe2O3 crystals on the OS sample surface are organized in a periodic two dimensional fashion. These results shed new lights on the actual mechanisms and kinetics of polymorphous transitions of Fe2O3. Deciphering technologies behind the fabrication of ancient Jian wares can thus potentially help researchers improve the ε-Fe2O3 synthesis.
Here are a couple of sets I made using concrete as a glaze material. It was pretty simple to make. The project began after finding two concrete paving tiles in a construction rubble dump. The larger one I kept for the bases, and the other I busted with a sledge hammer into gravel sized chunks. The gravel went into a bisque kiln, and the remaining slab went into the brick saw to get cut in half. Once the calcined concrete came out of the bisque, the friable powder went into the ball mill and ran for a relatively short 8 hours. After sieving out the remaining sand and large pebbles, I had myself a pretty nice looking glaze slurry. Overnight I noticed a lot of settling, I added a small bit of epsom salt, and what I guessed to be about 1-5% by weight of bentonite. It still settled a bit, but not so much that you couldn’t use it. The application of the glaze was dipping, with a bit of spraying to build a thicker layer of glaze on the top half of each piece.
It’s been pretty cool to watch Ceramic Materials Workshop develop into what it’s become. Matt and Rose Katz are building an amazing thing, and their list of glaze disciples pushing the envelope of glaze magic has grown steadily. I’d planned to become an initiate myself and take the October class… but life on a remote island in Southeast Alaska has it’s own demands on my time, attention, and energy. That said, I just got this info from CMW in my email, and it looks great – certainly in line with what Ceramic Action is all about. I’d encourage you to check it out, you can not go wrong. You can even use the code CMWRULES and get the whole shebang for 75$ (Less than the cost of my average bar tab)!!!
This self guided workshop is a comprehensive, 54 part study into Mid-Temperature glazes. Also known as Cone 6 or Cone 5-6, these glazes are one of the most popular firing temperatures in ceramics. They can be beautiful, enticing, engaging and incredibly frustrating. In this workshop we will explore in depth, what we know to make the most out of Mid-Temperature glazes. We will take the mystery of materials, formulas and firings and translate them for real working artists.