It’s Always Been About The Process- Part 1

I like to touch the medium- work it with my own hands. I like the marks left behind by my fingers. I like the way it all gets stuck in my fingernails and all over my clothes.

I like learning about the details:

What is clay made of? Why do different clays fire at different temperatures? What is glaze? What happens to the clay and the glaze during the firings? And why does it happen? What are different ways to fire? Different types of kilns?

What other materials can I use? What happens when you use different materials? Can different materials do the same thing? How can I push this material to do what I want? How do those materials work?

The one constant since I became an Artist is that I love learning more- I love the “process”!

My dive in working with Clay.

When I was first introduced to ceramics, I was taking a class at St. Petersburg College. We started off by learning the key terms used when working with Clay: bone dry, leather hard, wet clay, glaze, bisque firing vs glaze firings, cone temperatures, etc. We learned what the words meant but not the details behind what happened and why. And I wanted to know why. I ended up taking the same class over and over and over again just because I enjoyed it! But I also was doing my own research in the process.

With the help of the professor, I started to dive into Glazes first. It was the most exciting at the time and I had experienced an outcome of a glaze I did that did not turn out as planned! I learned first about the properties of a glaze. What makes a glaze? Silica- the glass former, a refractory, flux- the melting agent, and then the colorants and/or modifiers. Each ingredient causing different effects when more or less is added to the final product.

Chemistry and measurements is very important when dealing with glaze making. The glazing outcome that made me interested in learning about this process was of a teapot that I had been working on for a while. I glazed the bottom half in this matte, light blue glaze, and the top half and lid in a glossy white. Just from your average color theory, you would think where the glazes overlap in the middle, it would come out in a lighter blue tone. Blue + white = light blue! However, the area where those glazes overlapped came out a bright, glossy red!

This had absolutely shocked me! It turned out that because of the chemicals involved in the glazes, a bit of tin in the white, plus the copper carbonate in the blue, actually makes red!

So in this case, because of the chemicals, blue + white = red!

And that started it all for me!

Glazing info led to me becoming incredibly obsessed about the firings and temperatures as well.

Why do we fire to certain temperatures? And what happens during a firing? To be continued…


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