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reformulating glazes to a lower cone - moral or technical

updated fri 28 feb 97


The Shelfords on tue 25 feb 97

Lili Krakowski wrote:
>There has been a very holier than thouish
>attitude among high-firing reduction potters for as long as I can
>remember which goes back to 1949. There is not space here to go into the
>whys, but part of it was the Nipponiphilia introduced by Leach and Hamada
>and the people who wre able to go study in Japan becaue either they ahd
>the GI Bill or the Yen was cheap. Be all that as it may: These potters
>snooted it over those who had only electric kilns which in those days
>rarely went about c.4, and sneered at the eathernware potters who were
>"mere peasants. THE thing that mattes is the final piece; not the technique.
>What I mind and question is THIS ATTITUDE. We are craftsmen and that
>means that we do what we do with the materials at hand and develop WITHIN
>OURSELVES the adaptability to workd with those materials. There is out
>there a wonderful repertoire of c.4-6 glazes, and especially in double
>application, they produce a depth and a beauty that is not identical to
>but certainlyas lovely as the higher fired reduction ones.

I couldn't agree more. I hope the attitude you describe is gradually dying
out. I know I couldn't care less what the cone is, if the piece is
beautiful or RIGHT. I do love the effects of mid- to high-fire reduction
and hope to try it someday, but I also love the effects I have been able to
get at ^4-7, not to mention majolica, and as I have been up to now a city
potter, my studio in a tiny back bedroom of our townhouse, low- and mid-fire
electric has been the only practical way to go. REMEMBER LUCY RIE if anyone
needs a "big name" to justify their preferences. But why should they -
you're right you're right you're right (IMHO and all that).

However, the process of taking glaze recipes and exploring their
possibilities across cones and firing techniques is a valuable learning
tool, at least it was for me. For one thing, most recipes are hybrid things
that have been handed around and changed enormously from potter to potter.
I have discovered several which were given to me as cone 10 and which, both
in terms of calculation and testing, worked much better at ^5-6 - probably
they started that way and someone pushed them for their own purposes, but
the original was lost in the shuffle.

I guess, as with so many things, it's not so much what you do, as why. As
long as the why is clean and simple and uncluttered with ego, the what will
lead you to something more to understand.

Veronica on Thetis Island in the Gulf of Georgia in BC