Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Going Green

Sometimes I come across a color I just can't figure out. A few months ago I was asked to make a a light green glaze for an order. Not a problem, I thought, and quickly agreed. I already make a few shades of aqua and turquoise, how hard could it really be to remove the blue and get down to a pretty, bright green? Actually pretty hard. I was dancing with the word impossible for a while, which is of course an exaggeration and also an impossibility on its own-- I see green glazes everywhere-- but I was that frustrated and making zero progress figuring out how to make green for my high fire, oxidation, porcelain and stoneware.

Imagine my surprise when I opened the kiln to find pieces that went into the kiln with a clearly green colored glaze but which came out this color:




While I love this warm, nutty color I've named Cashew, it is not green. Not even a little green. The glaze that went onto the pieces was this color:


See the problem? Understand the shock?


I've been making my own glazes for years and have a general understanding of how glazes work, which minerals and oxides produce which colors in which firing atmosphere; The basics. I think I will always consider my understanding to be general, even years from now when I have a few decades under my belt. There is just so much to learn, and I'm not interested in adding chemistry classes to my To Do list any time soon (or ever). Instead I work with a trial and error approach that feels an awful lot like complete failure, until finally, it works!




Interestingly, the stoneware Cashew bowls were glazed with my Satin Matte base, which is a very, very different formula than my glossy, translucent glaze I use on my porcelain. Because these glazes are so different in terms of their chemical composition, I completely expected the problem to be isolated to my Satin Matte base. I mixed up a batch of green glaze with my Glossy Porcelain Base glaze certain this glaze would work. Instead I pulled from the kiln the tan test tiles below. I'm not sure how or why the glaze pooled purple where thickest.. but that is another mystery for another day. As you can see below I did eventually unload a green test tile from the kiln (yay!) but what a process and hair pulling. I used my Pink Base glaze for the green tile, and surprisingly it worked! What makes my Pink Base different from my other glazes? It's Zinc free. That was the lightbulb moment.




I've known for some time that Zinc doesn't allow for the development of Pink. But green? This was news to me. I also know that Pink can be made by combining Tin (white in powder form) with Chrome (a bright Green in powder form) which is fascinating. These glazes go onto a pot green, but come out of the kiln pink. Mind boggling. Zinc is known to produce brown when used with Chrome (a little fact I'd over looked). So it was a combination of things-- Chrome, Tin (in the form of Zircopax in my Satin Base), and Zinc (in both glazes) that caused the agony. Oh chemistry. I'm thrilled to have finally made a pretty springtime green, and the timing truly couldn't be any better! Just imagine how pretty these bowls will look filled with fresh fruits and veggies! So with that I introduce Spring Green, a new glaze, just in time for summer dinner parties!

  

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Spring


**My blog is moving! All posts will be listed in both location until we all transition over to the new blog home together. Please be sure to visit my new site, which will have on site shopping, contact and press pages... everything wonderful all in one place!: http://www.suiteonestudioceramics.com Thank you for the support!**

May marks the beginning of what I consider to be the ascent to summer here in North Carolina. My backyard is filled with the most wildly lush greenery I've ever seen. My garden is past those fragile stages of weak, stretching seedlings of nearly unrecognizable origin. Clearly now I have tomatoes, basil, mint and sunflowers, among other things. Everything is taking shape. Color, texture, form, it all is becoming clear now. It is already hot here. Sticky, humid days that simply begin and end that way. For the southern United States these characteristics are completely normal, but I experience southern springs through the eyes of a visitor.


It's been ten years since my family moved down south, but I still have the internal calendar of a New Englander. I don't trust spring. That's my cynical gut, reminding me that any day it could snow... in New Hampshire. As a child May was always the absolute last month of uncertainty. It would often begin cold and the occasional, somewhat freak snowstorm might crush our hopes of an early transition to warm weather, but by the end of May you knew it was spring and summer would soon follow.


After a decade I've learned to catch myself  when I begin to conjure images of frigid blowing winds and unwanted floating flurries anytime later than March. It's just so unlikely. I know this, but it's that feeling of remembrance I can't seem to shake. Every year I expect this will be the year I move through the seasons with trust, but it's yet to happen. May is my happy month. I stop dragging my feet and finally admit it-- winter is over.


Bright colors are expanding in every direction and nature is fully alive. I find myself working in my studio to develop new colors which will capture Summer and the trust I place in this season. Long days of warmth, sunshine, birds, flowers... it all becomes real to me in May.



Save 20% in my Etsy shop for the next 24 hours only! Use coupon code: MAYHURRAY to save 20% on your entire purchase May 3- May 4th, 2012. Sale ends 10 AM tomorrow EST. Enjoy!