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traveling rhodes 32 glaze(story)

updated sat 10 mar 01


mel jacobson on fri 9 mar 01

at the farm, clayart went to hell this morning, can't get
my daughters pump going, spent two hours in the basement
from hell with lyle. cold and damp. dirty words were exchanged a great deal.
house is warm, but no water, need to fill the hot tub so it will
not burn out the pump. so, glaze.

this one hits very close to home for me. clay body, clay body, clay body.
it is the key to glaze/

rhodes 32, the mainstay of my pottery for 30 years. it is the
best...made me a great deal of money. folks just love it.

lost it five years ago. looks like hell. laughable.
(have told some of this delete if you
understand.) one cannot tell this story too is
so important.

i was reading the life story of David Shaner. it is a wonderful
piece of writing by Gary Williams of studio potter. wonderful.

David states:

`I developed that 32 for Dan. It is a glaze that must go with a body
that is heavy in iron`....BINGO. I RAN to my studio, opened the
pug mill and started to dump yellow ochre into it. ran the stuff through
about 5 times. added more ochre.
made pots, added a nice rich slip of ochre. fired them......what i had
made for 30 years was back. perfect.

all the years i taught, i would save scrap midrange clay, tons of it.
when i made my own clay body i would just add my own fire clay to it at
about 30 percent. made a perfect cone 10 body...but, it was rich in iron.
made a great many pots at school, brought them home, mixed them with
the home studio pots. (the pots had different stamps on the bottom..always
knew school pots.) for years i had my own pug mill at school, so made
a great deal of clay, brought it home.

after i retired i was not privy to that scrap any longer. (i have never been
in my old school. never once. left, not to return.) i bought my clay from
em at continental clay. nice body, low in iron. i also got involved in
a dirty porcelain, 25 percent stoneware added. throws well. makes a nice
soft gray body.

Rhodes 32 did not work with any of it. Then David Shaner re/taught me
about the glaze. it did not travel at all. changed my clay body, lost the

this story is a natural events story. things like this happen all the
time. we
just cannot `see the woods for the trees`.

i have given ice cream pails of my home glaze 32 to students to take
to college...they throw away the pots. `hey mel, that glaze sucks`.
it did not travel. it must have a rich iron body. without it, well, it

when you change your body, it sure means a great deal of research
to create glazes that work with it. many stumble into greatness. it just
happens. i was not smart, brilliant...just lucky in those early years.
had a clay and glaze that were made for each other. luck.
used them over and over. had 1234 with two percent iron...really nice
celedon. found the formula for my temmoku written on a five gallon
pail i bought at a potters garage sale for 5 cents. nicer than ron roys.
(for god sake, smile) but, it was a perfect orange breaking temmoku. worked
like a charm for me. found it.

so, that is the story. it cannot be repeated too many times. so many
do not understand this part of the game. when all the parts of the puzzle
come together, throwing with ease and confidence, a great clay body that
is yours, a glaze that matches it, then a great kiln that minds its master.
then the great pots emerge...not every day...but the chances sure increase.
nils does it, tony does it, david does it, ron r does it, on and on and on.
i do it now and then...but, that is all i and then/
a few racers.

from the farm in wisconsin