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for heaven's sake, buy the book!

updated tue 21 feb 06


Ellen Currans on mon 20 feb 06

I'm going to say what a lot of us are thinking. If you are still at the
stage in clay where you think whining and asking for someone elses glaze will
solve your problems, you are too inexperienced to be trusted with the care and
keeping of a good glaze! Mel has said it many times. It is not just the glaze
formula. It is at least 20 other variables, and you can only make it work for
you if you pay attention to all of those, and test, test, test. I know it is
daunting for beginners but it is where we all start.

I share my clay formula but not my glaze recipes for that a reason. There is
nothing special about them - I found them somewhere in my reading and over
the years have tweaked them to work on my clay the way I fire my kiln, but I
know they won't be the same for someone else - so why put them through that
misery. For the same reason, I don't fire test tiles for other potters without the
caveat that it probably won't look the same in their kiln anyway.

How can you want to be a potter without investing in the tools of your work?
Books are tools. If you are just beginning in Cone 6, John and Ron's book,
and also Baily's are the glaze course you need to get it right. If you had
bought Ron and John's book over Christmas through The Potter's Shop you would
have saved 25% and gotten it for $30. You could have requested their book
instead of new fuzzy slippers or jewelry. I find that a lot of "poor" potters
actually spend money on lattes, hairstyling, beer, and eating out without a
thought, and cavil at the price of books. $30 is the cost of two mediocre dinners
out.. How many of those have you had in the last few months?

I would be embarrassed to tell you how many books I own. Pottery books for me
are manna from heaven. I even bought Mastering Cone 6 Glazes, and I do
nothing but Cone 10 Gas fire. I learned from it. Every bit of information about
clay and chemicals and how they work together is valuable. I also bought John
Britt's book, and it is a masterpiece. I'm working my way through it looking
for the next perfect glaze that works in my kiln, on my pots. Even tho the
glazes I use have been with me for years, there is always hope of a new
wonderful surface.

Here is how I manage to afford what I want or need for the studio on an
income that would be considered miserable by most college graduates today. I stew
about it for awhile until I realize that I really want it and will use it.
Then I figure out how many pots I need to make and sell to afford it, above and
beyond my usual production. It is kind of a mind game. Then I stay up late
for several nights and make those pots which are designated "new purchase
pots." My extra effort earns me the right to buy a tool or a workshop, or in one
case, a second TV over the slab table so I could have company in the evenings
when I am working. In almost every case, a new tool for the studio increases
my production or makes the process simpler or more fun.

I'm not taking sides in the free glaze -not free glaze issue. I respect both
sides. And there cerrtainly is no shortage of available glaze formulaes.
You couldn't test them all if you lived to be 150.

Just my opinion this cold, windy morning in Oregon.