Nothing is more frustrating for a ceramic artist than being limited by chemistry. For me, limitations in chemistry could be caused by the fact that I generally fire in an oxidation chamber. This means that my kiln fires with electricity and the chamber is full of oxygen during the firing. When this happens, an oxide like copper in a glaze will be green at the end of the firing. The same copper oxide in an oxygen-free chamber would make a red glaze. This means that I can only get greens, golds, creams, and blues. Because those are the limits of high-fire oxidation.
Those of us who dabble in creating crystalline glazes are told that our limitations run even deeper. But if there is one thing that we have learned throughout history, we have found that finding the solution takes only the desire.
So how do I manage to create other “impossible” colors in my oxidation chamber. I simply create them. “Simply” isn’t always so simple. It means that I must figure out a way to apply the color to my pieces and create a glaze that will play nicely with that applied color. This requires many tests along the way; and various test firing schedules.
Here are a couple of photographs of my application process. Developing this process has allowed me to create red, yellows, oranges, purples, and shades of blue that tickle the sky.
And with that, my frustrations are a thing of the past…. until I try to create yet another color.