"The aesthetic beauty of pottery lies in the archeological finds of our past."
|Volume #1 Issue #1||January 1, 2009|
A New Year, A New
With the holidays concluding the end of the year, we find ourselves facing new horizons for the beginning of this one. A quick look into our future shows we will probably be struggling to make ends meet until the recession has passed.
This brings a concern to those of us who make our living with our artwork. We have faced the knowing revelation that times will be hard for many months to come, but does that mean the consumer sees art as any less of a choice to make when it comes to spending? I believe this depends entirely on how the artist portrays their work to the eye of the consumer.
In the 40's, the days of the great depression, artists continued to make there pieces and continued to display them in museums and art shows. The quality of living at that time was lean and simple. But if it were not for the artist, entertainment in all forms would have ceased.
As we know, art survived. It has survived many centuries of war, disasters and economical strain. And it did so because artists never gave up. The artistic potter is one who holds pure determination in the making of their ware. This is also true to the marketing of it to the community. We, as artists, believe we have a purpose in the art world. And that is to continue to bring a feeling of unity and hope through our work when all is in great despair.
So how can we as an artist community work to continue our passion for creativity and bring in the income we need to sustain our necessary lifestyle? We must continue to meet the demands of the consumer by introducing quality products that will bring our work into their homes and businesses. Whether you are a functional potter or one who enjoys creating for mere pleasure to beautify our surroundings, the world has to know who you are. Each artist must work to develop a good portfolio of what they do and introduce that portfolio to the vast community of art stores, museums and craft shows.
A high quality website is also necessary in the fast pace world of technology. Business cards should be always on hand as well as various forms of advertisement. Never be afraid to speak about who you are and what you do. Follow through with commitments and plan out your strategy for showing your work.
For those of us who are long time artistic potters, the need to re-establish our community standing is necessary more today than ever. Making contact with former customers, art galleries and museums may inspire them to look at your new work. Don't be afraid to make the first move. Offer to work with your customer base to establish specials or unique items that will encourage them to seek your work over other artists. Only you can insure that your work is visual in the community. Explore new horizons overseas. The market is wide and even in today's economy, artists can make a living. While examining our strengths and communicating our skills, art will continue to provide us with the means to support ourselves.
In this issue:
Education - Pottery and
Don't Under Estimate
the Power of Colorants
Series #1 On Glaze Formulation
When in college, many moons ago, our ceramic class had a wonderful glaze studio with many cabinets, containers and drawers full of raw glaze materials. It was like walking into a candy shop. As a student, knowledge in the mixing of glazes had yet to be experienced. So, like all new students, we relied on books full of glaze recipes developed by the more experienced potter.
As we learned to mix glazes, one of the things that bothered me was what seemed to be underdeveloped colors, especially in the area of high fired glazes. The colors were often mottled and never really attributed to a primary or secondary color result. We were told that it was impossible to arrive at a true color in a glaze studio. Such glazes were only developed in chemistry labs of manufacturers. Thus the use of stains were the only means to arrive at these much wanted true colors.
I set out to prove this theory wrong. With old glaze chemistry books in hand, a pestle and mortar, and a vast amount of raw glaze materials, my studio would become a test site for primary and secondary glaze colors. The first step was to choose a base glaze that would satisfy the primary criteria; no crackle, pinholing or other defects, a smooth glossy glaze that would not interfere with the colorants. It had to flow well at temperatures up to cone 05 and not have any flaws when fired correctly.
After much testing, a glaze was developed that satisfied all the above criteria.
Next, the decision on which colorant would make a good candidate for testing my theory. Although all iron oxides create some form of color, the clay body would have some affect on the final chemical makeup of the glaze when fired, so the choice was to use a pure colorant with no iron qualities. The choice was made. Cobalt Oxide, a true blue colorant was chosen to establish a basis for creating a blue glaze
For this test, we used 1/2%. Finally, an opacifier was needed to establish the opacity of the colorant. There are several opacifiers to choose from, the selection was clear, Ultrox was the recommended choice because of its effectiveness in all temperatures and it is stronger than Zircopax. We used 4% of the Ultrox in our glaze colorant mixture. Now to mix the glaze and create the colorant.
The glaze body was designed to mature at Cone 05. A simple base glaze, this should prove to be a basis for creating a true primary color in the glaze body. The glaze was measured using a gram scale to assure the correct amount of each raw glaze material. The raw glaze colorants were also measured in the same fashion, but were not added to the base glaze mixture. The reason for this was to allow us to work with the colorant and further create a basis for adding it to the raw glaze mixture.
Using a mortar and pestle, the cobalt oxide and Ultrox were ground for 15 minutes. This further reduced the size of the ingredients and blended them further. The cobalt mixture was then added to the base glaze mixture. The complete mixture was then placed into a ball mill to be mixed for 30 minutes dry. (A handmade ball mill can be used but should be mixed for 1 hour).
The blended dry ingredients were removed from the ball mill and placed into a bowl for wet mixing. Water was added to the dry ingredients and mixed by hand until all dry ingredients were absorbed. The mixture was allowed to set for 1 hour to allow complete absorption of the dry ingredients.
Using a spatula, to assure all ingredients were removed from the bowl, the wet mixture was poured into the ball mill and mixed for 1 hour. The mixture was then removed from the ball mill and sieved into a 120 mesh sieve, two times.
The final glaze mixture was applied to a test tile of white stoneware using the three brush application method. Allowed to fully dry the tile was then fired to cone 05. The glaze turned out to be a true blue with no flaws. Further mixing of the same glaze recipe and firing to cone 05 repeatedly achieved the same primary blue color.
This test was also tried on additional colorants using the same base glaze mixture. True yellows were achieved from molybdenum trioxide and true reds from potassium dichromate. From this experiment, it is concluded that true primary colors can be achieved from the potter's studio with a little extra work and selection of the correct base glaze as well as the correct opacifier. Also a must is the formulation of the glaze by the use of the ball mill and sieve.
Achieving true primary colors from a high temperature glaze body is more complicated than just mixing the colorants in the above fashion. The use of the kiln and a mixture of various colorants come into play. To achieve the primary colorants, creating a colorant frit in the studio is needed. This will be discussed in the next issue.
NEW POTTERY BOOK REVIEWS BY TI
Published on www.ceramicindustry.com, December 10, 2008.
Handbuilding Ceramic Forms By Elsbeth S. Woody
Every new potter desires to have a personal teacher in ceramic design and form. Handbuilding Ceramic Forms is that teacher. Written to introduce basic methods used in developing pottery, Elsbeth S. Woody's step-by-step instructional gives the reader a unique discovery into the styles of handbuilding forms while introducing the hands-on side of pottery making.
The author begins by detailing instruction on the beginning use of clay. While covering information on types of clay bodies, basic terminology, and glazing and firing, Woody quickly moves to the preparation of the clay body with basic mixing steps and instruction on two common wedging styles.
The heart of Woody's book includes areas of form that often represent the beginning of problems for the novice. By using past experience, the author sums each problem with a solution in areas of joining clay bodies, creating support for large forms and working in stages. Methods of forming clay with solid forms, small and large forms and the use of the paddle to shape and smooth clay surfaces gives a new look at creativeness through the author's eyes. Simple and complex surface treatments complete the instructional side of the book, with particular attention given to decorating with the use of detailed photographs.
The final chapter, "Ten Approaches to Handbuilding," is the author's unique way to introduce areas of form that she is not familiar with. Woody provides an exceptional display of 10 artists, including David Middlebrook, Billie Walters and Susan Wechsler. Explanation as to their style, form and ability to overcome designing problems in their work provide a distinct approach to handbuilding their forms. Each artist introduces a completely new handbuilding technique that is an inspiring and fresh look to ceramic design.
Woody's book covers the necessary information needed to establish a firm foundation in handbuilding. Written for the novice potter, the author clearly understands the necessary steps in teaching handbuilding form to a new pottery artist. Woody's concise instructions, followed by detailed photos, allow the reader the opportunity to visually retain the technique with the least amount of confusion from text.
As a potter myself, the book inspired a desire to work more in the handbuilding field. Woody's use of known artists in her book gave an appealing look at handbuilding as an acceptable form of ceramic design. The inclusion of new founded techniques gives a renewed idea on how to perform handbuilding projects and overcome problems with stability, display and creative form difficulties often found when using clay. Woody focuses on problems often associated with the separation of joined surfaces, collapse, handling large slab works and displaying finished works. The author includes enough areas of handbuilding to give the reader a basis for developing their own style, as well as providing problem-solving ideas that would cover many areas of handbuilding techniques not covered in her book.
Woody's long-time experience in handbuilding forms helps to develop this book into a satisfying primer for the introduction of handbuilding form and styles. As a basic handbuilding reference, it is suitable for studio and school reference. Although a republished version, clearly from a different generation of potters, the book covers information still needed and used in studios today.
Known for her influential style and creativeness, Woody is considered one of the long standing potters in the U.S. and Africa. Although better known for her publishing and teaching history, Woody's work has a mainstream origination with fellow potters of her era. She is known for her teaching program in the U.S. at various colleges, including the Baruch College and the Teachers College in New York. Woody is also known for public display of her work at Boston City Hall, the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York, and the Bronx Museum. She currently resides in South Africa where she continues her work.
Handbuilding Ceramic Forms includes 227 pages of text, 267 b/w photos, a bibliography of book and magazine resources, and a listing of clay and glaze recipes used by the featured artists.
Title: Handbuilding Ceramic Forms
Author: Elsbeth S. Woody
First Copyright Date: 1978 (republished 2008)
Type of Book: Instructional Pottery General
Subject Matter: Handbuilding forms and techniques
Special Features (maps, color plates, etc): Black and white photos.
ISBN #: 13:978-1-58115-503-7 / 10: 1-58115-503-4
for more information, visit www.allworth.com.
ESF is offering a free class for the month of January!
Do you love clay but don't have a clue about the available types and their characteristics? How about enrolling in a free Clay Bodies Class!
Click on the Classroom Portal below, create a student account and enroll in Orientation 101. Once completed, your instructor will enroll you in CLAY100C. This class is offered with no further obligation to enroll in additional classes.
Test glazes on a scrap 2" x 2" square tile piece of clay. Use a split piece of bamboo to press an indention into the clay body, near the bottom of the square. This will show what the glaze will look like when pooled into the indention. Always brush three coats of glaze onto the square to achieve a solid covering. Once fired, use a ceramic marker to number the tile for easy reference to the original recipe card.
Inspiration Through Clay
Don't Under Estimate the Power of Colorants
MicroKilns - Ceramic Kilns or Bad Idea?
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