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commercial glazes and stains

updated sat 20 jan 07


Lili Krakowski on fri 19 jan 07

Dina: About commercial glazes and stains! Good grief! WHY should you
feel guilty? There are many excellent reasons for using them!

SPACE--many people do not have the space to store the gazillion ingredients
"doing glazes" requires. In my own (very small) studio I have about 36
feet of shelving just for glaze materials, plus some large garbage cans
outdoors for half a dozen more, plus a small shed with stuff....But I love
puttering with glaze, so for me mixing my own glazes is fun. Then, besides
storage, and space, there is the TIME it takes to do all this--including
the time consuming business of cleaning up.

Commercial stains are a great thing. The people who make them are extremely
precise, so what you buy as Cheese Mold Green today will be the same color
as Cheese Mold Green tomorrow. You can buy stains in small quantities to
suit your needs. And for some colors the stains are absolutely the best,
and --dare I say it?--the brightest. You must be sure to follow the
directions about what should/should not be in the glaze.

Now as to your guilt! There is, alas, a great deal of competitiveness, and
nee-ah, nee-ah, nee-ahing poisoning the clay world today. Some people just
love to try to inflate their importance by denigrating others. Oy! You
shoulda seen the things, heard the things, said--in the US--some 30 years
ago about those of us who used electric kilns. Oy! you shoulda heard the
stuff said about those who fired below c.9-10! Now there is a good deal of
it about MFAs! By gum and golly--what won't they think of next?

So, Dina: What is there to feel guilty about? Using commercial glazes in no
more "cheating" than using an oxyprobe, a pyrometer--when the good old guys
did it all by observing the color of the kiln, and using draw-rings. Using
commercial glazes is no more "cheating" than using a slab roller or an
electric wheel, or any tool that the good old guys did not have, and which
makes our life easier....Like using commercially mixed clay bodies.

Focus on the work, focus on learning. Do what is best for YOU, what enables
YOU to do the work YOU want to do--and do it better every time you pick up a
lump of clay.

And, yes--you knew I would say this. DO learn about glaze, do read the
books, do learn how to calculate a formula. You do not need to mix glazes
to learn what the ingredients do and how they interact.

Lili Krakowski
Be of good courage