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lessons in humbility

updated sat 23 apr 05


bill edwards on fri 22 apr 05

It wasn't that long ago when I stated that I could
have the best dream team imaginable by putting
together a group from within this group to handle any
clay/glaze task at hand. Just imagine a team of
clayarts experts in business together formulating and
making glazes, pottery and clays. Hmmmmm (Well, we are
the ones who use this stuff the most)

Beginners: You are here because you either love clay
or enjoy glaze formulation. After many years of
working with clay and glazes and formulating not just
glazes but well over a hundred (118 to be exact) of my
own acrylic formulations and water based exterior
products (Those that were developed to remove lead and
other noxious materials from common use)used in the
arts industry and commercial World, I am very humbled
by the advice given from our talented clayarters who
do what they do here for FREE! (I never got FREE

There was no known tool for what I done at the time.
The work load was tremendous. The expense enormous and
the toxicology constant and always on-going. But all
these glaze calculations tools and all these people
here are like a gold mine each coming with sage
information you cannot get anywhere else. So coming in
here with ASTM-D4236 (Regulatory Rules for safe
handling and use) and other guide-lines for practical
safety sense, makes sense to me and causes me to pay
very close attention to things I might would
other-wise not understand. But we have those great
minds that expand on most all subjects and eventually
conclude the session by brain-storming and pulling
things apart till they get down to the middle of it
with answers. Once again, FREE! Sometimes after a
mental brawl but sill FREE!!!

John H. and Ron R. and Jonathan and Vince and Ivor and
about a dozen more are heros of mine and most anyone
who has written a calculations program that semi-works
at all is said to be a friend of mine. We argue the
merits but agree on validity till one or the other has
to tuck tail and lose a point or two. I must say that
E.B. and a few more are on my list but like the
Grammy's, I am certainly leaving someone out thats
equally important and they know who they are!

We still need recipes that come with associated
problems in order to learn more about them. Crazing,
dunting, over-saturation leading to leeching. Poorly
formed asthetic glazes that may or may not be helped?
Newly developed products like the rage for replacement
of Gertsley. (Why now do we have so much gertsley
available, seems like everyone suddenly has a stock
pile of it?) And now we also have a stock pile of
substitutes equally as confusing as the original
problem in some ways.

Now back to limits as John H. was mentioning. Of
course some glazes are not going to be inside the
limits that are set, if that was the case I would
never had developed the almost bright red ^6 ox glaze
I have used over the years with good lab reports and
chrome, I haven't seen John and Ron's recipe/book (I
really need to) but I ponder how I would like to
compare notes. But then, chrome is in such small
ammounts and we often up-take chromium into our
systems or otherwise would have issues with our health
if not. So is 0.15 or 0.75+/- too much? See this is
where it can get tricky unless you are used to seeing
the numbers and comparing them to lab reports and
using calculations tools pretty often. I again
applaud John H. for adding companies (url's) that will
do extractions on his site even though I am taking
someone else's word that it exists. I need to go look
at it! But thats what we need and we need more so you
can be assured you have a competitive price by a
certified lab. The one I use tests for the food
industry, sorta made sense to me at the time.

I had to make this post so I could tell the beginning
potters how important I feel they are and also to let
the ones who have developed into the great potters
they are, how vital they are as well to our industry.
The exchange of information is so needed for what we
do as artists! We don't have to indulge our deepest
darkest secrets to understand the technology and use
it. I have formulations that others would insist could
be problematic but would they spend the time and money
in labs to be sure? So in essence to John's reply, I
wouldn't ever depend on limits being correct. Limits
are parameters for safety (often based on known
information at the time of discovery) but often
materials can easily change that based on how they are
used and in what amount and these are sometimes just
suggestive, not set in concrete. Its like making
chicken soup, it can be made perfectly or you can
over-do it with salt or pepper and make it un-fit to
eat. So recipes and ingredients are our cook books,
literally. And mothers, those who cook often, usually
cook well! Grannies, they can really cook!!! So men
got into the act and started cooking up recipes and
competing in other ways. Lol

Here's a small check-list of things I would simply
consider but not let it scare me off.

Check which oxides are known for toxic issues.
Did you know the birth of cadmium supposedly arose
from the release of soot and zinc from a furnace where
zinc metals was being roasted? Condensation from
metallic compounds that create new materials are
discovered this way. Cadmium iodide was once used as a
medicine for swollen joints, say what? You learn more
over time. Now has the industry found a way to
encapsulate that product to a safe/safer solution
making it stable enough to acutally use???

With the above information wouldn't you be less
interested in sticking around a kiln thats firing?

Here's a well written url that I would consider and
take to heart if I were going to invest time, energy
and money into an art form where I need to know
potentially dangerous problems. It even answers
several recent questions posed on our group.

The information highway is big and strong. That link
would be a great starting point for any potter. I
would like to be talking to you say, in about 20 or 30
years from now and all of us be healthy and maybe a
little more wealthy. But remember, while the guru's
are arguing, we should be applauding their efforts to
fighting it out for many of us. Once the dust settles
and they take their boxing gloves off, we are bound to
have a better answer or more knowledge than we did
before round one in the arena. Don't go to pot, make
something of yourself! (minor intent of a pun in there
somewhere?) But those arguments when involving pottery
and glazes are valid, and they're FREE as well! I like

Bill Edwards
Edmar Studio and Gallery

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