Sarah Halford

Architecture and Ceramics

the wonder of glaze

Glaze is a magical fluid made from incredibly poisonous materials. It’s a suspension of glass particles [for toughness, transparency and hygiene], flux materials [so they can become ‘molten’ at relatively low temperatures], and colouring agents such as oxides [so they’re pretty]. Prior to this year I had only used commercial glazes, that were made for school use, so pretty foolproof and you can’t really go wrong in the application of them. Oh how I have learned. I took this glaze recipe from The Potter’s Book of Glaze Recipes, which was pretty ambitious of me. The other potters at the workshop use Cone 6 glazes exclusively – which refers to the temp. of the kiln – which are easier to mix than lower temp. glazes, therefore perfect for a dunce like me.

The ‘magic’ is how a thick, gloopy batter-like rust coloured liquid like this;

… with bisqued clay dipped into it like this;

… then fired to 1220 degrees C can turn into THIS;

… a bit closer;

Look here, you can see every single teeny tiny detail in the lace! I am INORDINATELY EXCITED about this glaze, it is a triumph! If you had any idea how much time i have put into getting a result like this… well you’d pat me on the back and ask if I’d like a cup of tea. Of course, this glaze only gives a result like this on this particular clay, when applied using this particular method, so i have to make sure I note carefully all my methods, clays, glazes etc. For example, I nearly mixed up this glze with a totally rubbish one I made, because the label on this one said ‘FROSTY’. Yes, this blue, transparent glaze is described as ‘frosty’. Does that look frosty to you?! Luckily I checked over my photos and ran in to wash off and reglaze everything the next day!

There’s a top secret group of items about to be fired this weekend – I will need every ounce of good luck so they come out like the tile above, and not like… well let’s just say I haven’t photographed everything lately!


4 comments on “the wonder of glaze

  1. helen
    September 4, 2010

    The book i’m reading at the moment (The Children’s Book by A S Byatt) (which is both wonderful and frustrating) is set in the end of the Victorian and the beginning of the Edwardian eras, with on of the key characters an apprentice potter. There are lots of lovely passages about developing new glazes and the intricacies of colours and so on.

    I can’t wait for the day I get my first invite to one of your private views. Your stuff is looking LOVELY!

    • sarahhalford
      September 6, 2010

      Aw thanks chuck! Just read a review on Amazon, it seems you’re not the only one to find it quite a frustrating read! There seem to be about twenty characters to keep track of.

      Sorry I missed your texrt yesterday, but probably for the best as teh disparity between how many times you have had us round for dinner versus us feeding you is getting embarrassing! Will definitely have you guys round really soon!

  2. stovies
    October 21, 2010

    This is an absolutely beautiful technique – love it! It reminds me of Cyanotypes. Just thinking about C-types making me go a bit squishy and want to get back to being and artist. 🙂

    • sarahhalford
      October 21, 2010

      Cool, it does look like cyanotypes!
      I’m trying a tonne of new techniques at the mo, having fun experimenting. Of course they’re only ‘new’ to me, as all these techniques are thousands of years old!

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This entry was posted on September 3, 2010 by in pottery.
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