Monday, December 12, 2011

Glaze early, glaze often

Made something that you wanted to give out for Christmas?  As the holiday approaches, make sure that you keep up with the collection of your bisqued pieces and glaze them quickly.  There is two more weeks of firing left -- translation: 4 bisque firing and 4 glaze firing.  Check the calendar by the greenware shelves.  If you don't know where the calendar is, ask your instructor or a studio monitor.  I got an email from Lillstreet today:

We use 19 different food-safe and lead free glazes in our ceramics department.  We offer over 600 glaze samples but the possibilities are infinite! Ceramic glazes generally contain silica, which help form a glass-like surface and feldspars, which help the glass to melt.  Combinations of naturally occurring oxides are what help to create the different colors of glaze, such as cobalt blues or copper greens and reds.

Glazing is most important for earthenware vessels, which is the same clay that flower pots are made from, otherwise they would be unsanitary due to the porosity of the type of clay.  Glazing helps to seal the surface of the clay in order to keep liquids in...and bacteria out.  In addition to the functional aspect of glazing, their is also the ability to use glaze like paint and the surface of your pot becomes the canvas.  Glazes offer finshes that range from glossy to matte, and mottled to a solid color. Glazes may also enhance an underlying design or texture which may be either the "natural" texture of the clay or an inscribed, carved or painted design.

This is just a simple interpretation of what actually goes into a glaze forumla.  If you are interested in learning more, there are tons of books out there.  Also, check with your instructor if you have specific questions.

Most of all the work produced by students are fired in one of the two large Baileys in the kiln room.  But we also have a kiln for "atmospheric" firing and Lillstreet offer classes in "atmospheric" firing.  With atmospheric firing, you don't have to glaze the outside of the pots if you don't want to.  Check out the catalog for Winter classes and look for "Soda" classes if you are interested in taking one of those classes.

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