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Commercial Glazes And Studio Made Glazes


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#1 Mark C.

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 12:02 PM

There has been a bit of talk about which one folks use-

I’m going to set the cost factor aside for a bit on this subject for a moment

For me the richness of cone 10 glazes and the

Color as well as not knowing what it will turn out like each week keeps me alive with clay

I can control what the glaze looks like how it flows and how shiny or matt I want. But to be sure its always a bit different every fire.

What samples I have seen of commercial glaze in this temp range has been weak at best.

Now in other temp ranges starting with low fire the commercial guys really did step up and have done a great job making everything to match a paint store in colors and now in recent times moved thru to mid range and make as much as possible to match higher fire glazes. Just look at an ad in CM to see this trend.

Since I’m not working in this temp range I can see the trends very clearly-its a full out lets make glaze look like cone 10 reduction in an electric.For me it seems to be a strange trend

I’m not sure why one would want that as oxidation atmospheres have their own appeal in terms of glazes.

There seems to be more commercial interest in low temp glazes for the big boys-must be there are more working in these areas as that's where the money must be

Still for me its all about variety and color –that why I have stayed with this profession for 40 years-not as a teacher but a maker of everyday goods people use-here’s yesterdays glaze load. These pots will be used from Arizona to Northern California in kitchens near and far it’s this variety in color that keeps my focus.

Making your own glazes lets you understand the whole process and that's very important-this is the most important point.

Now as to cost its not even close making your own is way more cost effective no matter which temp range you are working in.

Mark

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#2 SleepingBird

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 05:05 PM

Mark, it would take me years to fill up a kiln that large...years! I'm a hobbyist who only sells a few pendants here and there, and as such am really thankful for pre-made glazes. I also have a chemical sensitivity so working with large bags of dry materials in my studio room is never going to happen for me. I would love to mix my own glazes simply to understand better how they work and because they are unique to each artist. Besides the sensitivity, the ease of use, variety, and small volumes are the main reasons I and other hobbyists would choose commercially made glazes. The reactive glazes are pretty cool for those of us who don't have access to much more than a small electric kiln. Someday, I'd like to buy a gas kiln and crank it to Cone 10, but for now I'm happy to have a kiln and glazing materials at all. In other words, we can't always get what we want, but if we try sometimes, we get what we need.



#3 Chris Campbell

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 07:38 PM

You must have been watching the rerun of The Big Chill that was on TV yesterday SleepingBird! : - )

I was chatting with a clay supplier the other day and he was commenting on the shift of his business in the last five years. Not only are they selling more commercial glazes, but the business of mixing the raw ingredients for other people's recipes is growing fast. People no longer want to have the chemicals stored in their studio environment.
Also since the advent of "Mastering Cone 6 Glazes", that market is exploding as amateurs and pros move down to lower temps for Eco or economic reasons.
The times they are a changin'

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#4 Babs

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 10:34 PM

There's room for both, and we know what we are looking at and what we like!

Just as long as when using commercial glazes one acknowledges when selling the fact that, yes, we made the pot, if in fact we did, and, yes, we bought such and such a glaze to put on it, name it don't claim it!

Of course there are application differences and firing schedules one could write a book about. Been done. But trying to 'copy' the high fired look at a different temp. Why would you? Go for the look, feel that you are pursuing. the woodfired look alike and the reduction look alike are just that, fooling no one.

The heatwork stuff makes this all interesting.

It's the differences when I open my kiln that keeps the brain alive.



#5 Celia UK

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 04:45 AM

The biggest advantage of commercially bought glazes for me, is their reliability - in my small electric kiln with the ready mixed pots, for example, you get what it says on the tin, so to speak. But this feels like cheating to me and is expensive when the quantity of work increases.
I've had so many glaze issues and horrible results, with commercially mixed powdered glaze and have been wondering about mixing my own, getting my head into the chemistry of it all, so I can make adjustments if necessary. It feels like a great cliff climb in terms of the learning required. All I want to achieve is 3 or 4 glazes that I can dip, pour or occasionally spray, even just a couple of base glazes (shiny and matt) to which I can add stains or oxides, would be good. I have the colourants. Now I've rambled on a bit, I'll ask question, is it worth finding commercial base glazes that work with my clay (white earthenware) and playing around with the colourants, or shall I bite the bullet and buy the raw materials for the bases (e.g. Linda Bloomfield's simple recipes) and take it from there?

#6 Stephen

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 10:01 AM

HI Pazu,

 

You might be interested in the book "mastring cone 6 glazes". The authors are selling a $25 ebook on their website. I have a number of books on glazes but this one in particular addresses all of your concerns about food safety in great detail and all of the glazes in thr book are food safe. As everyone has said, it is a lot cheaper to mix your own, by several multiples.

 

another good source of info is a company called Digifire. I use the glaze software and it works well for me. With your registration you get a very detailed 200+ page glaze primer that is a good start. You also get access to a very extensive website bases library of glaze materials that goes into great depth on just about all glaze materials.

 

There is a lot of good info to address your concerns so I wouldn't let that hold you back.



#7 Chris Campbell

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 10:30 AM

In the years before "Mastering Cone 6 Glazes" was written the only "REAL" potters were firing fuel driven kilns to high temps. Ron and John changed the landscape significantly ... to the point where long time high firers are adapting their process to Cone 6.
Can I predict the same changes coming at us from commercial glaze makers? I know there is a book in the works right now that the authors hope will legitimize commercial glazes in the pottery world. I don't know how close it is to publication but I look forward to reading it.

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#8 Celia UK

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 11:37 AM

As always the musings of other potters contributes to the discussion, thank you! I note however, that everyone is currently sitting on the fence re my question. Glazing courses are not easy to find here in the UK, in fact I have not been able to find anything in any colleges within reach. Using the expertise of experienced potters is probably my best bet. I'll probably keep going with the commercial base glazes and add my own colourants for a while (lots of testing!) and if I still can't get what I want, go to mixing my own. But thank you Pazu for the reminder about the 'food safety' issue. Have I now answered my own question? If anyone has anything else to add - keep it coming!

#9 JBaymore

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 01:37 PM

I could extract more profit from a piece if I mixed my own glazes, but would lose some plausible deniability, particularly if ever there were a court case.

 

Pazu,

 

It is my understanding (and has been for years and since consulting lawyers on this subject as both a pro potter and as a ceramics educator) if you are located in the USA you have absolutely no protection in a legal situation from the use of commercially mixed glazes. The manufacturers do not indemnify the end user of the product. Indemnification means that the manufacturer will defend you from liability in the case of any issues arising from the use of their products in your situation.

 

If there was a problem with their glaze or clay body or ?????, YOU are still the responsible party if you are named as the defendant with a custoner's issues with your wares. Your only recourse would be to then take the supplier to court yourself in a separate case to recover any damages that you might have incurred. You can bet that they have a bevy of lawyers on retainer that will be preventing this from happening... and you will be paying your own lawyer for every hour expended.

 

In fact if you look, you will likely find that in the suppliers or manufacturers catalogs, websites, and such there is a carefully worded legal disclaimer that states that they are not responsible for the uses that an end-user puts their materials to. THAT will be their first line of defense agains you taking them to task.

 

Just so you know.... you can take the same glaze on the same claybody, and by changing the application or the firing, affect the leaching of materials out of it. In one case it may be "good" .. and in the other "bad". The manufacturers cannot be responsible for what the potter does. It is too complex to control. They are not being unreasonable in this statement.

 

Additionally there is the Law of Merchantability... which basically states that a product sold must be suited for the intent for which it is sold. A dinnerware piece not suited for food is not going to conform to this. You'd not have much solid ground to stand upon.

 

I know that if I were in a position to sue you, I'd be asking you how you KNEW that the glaze you had on the orange juice pitcher I bought was safe to use in this manner for storing orange juice. If you simply replied that 'the manufacturer said so', I'd be quoting back to you all of the the stuff the manufacturer says about not being able to control the end user's use of the product, how the results may vary based upon how the potter uses it, and so on. I'd then be looking at the efforts you went to in order to assure that the materials YOU chose to use on the product that I bought were appropriate.... stuff like like your education in the field, your testing procedures, and the records that you kept of those efforts.

 

Lawyer- "You mean that you have no idea of the actual chemical composition of the glaze you used on my client's pot which you sold to her? Yes or no?"

 

I'd also be trying to get the supplier/manufacturer to "roll over on you" by putting pressure on them.......... possibly by naming them jointly and severally in the original suit. If I can get them to say clearly that the end user is totally in control of the results of the use of their product, that it is your problem, that will be powerful in helping the plaintif to win the case. And the supplier has less to lose from turning on you than by fighting the other case. They agree to say what I want in court or in depositions for the case, and I drop them from being named in the suit. Simple bottom line math.

 

You are liable for the products you make. This is why part of your business plan should be to have product liability insurance.

 

 

best,

 

.......................john

 

PS: Hopefully Lawpots might be reading this and chime in with some accurate info. My info might be a bit dated and laws do change.


John Baymore
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#10 Wyndham

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 03:59 PM

It won't be long before no one will make anything for fear of a lawsuit. Meanwhile we import crap from china that has toxic ingredients for dogfood and the FDA is "Looking into It"

Many imported wares have a higher level of lead than domestic mfg's are allowed. (not advocating for toxins, just saying)

 

So schools have quit allowing students to mix glazes or learn how because of possible legal actions.

 

There are numerous thread here about beginners frighten to death because they have only been warned about dangerous material instead of being taught how to safely deal with different substances.

 

Who, in their right mind, wants to be in the middle of all this. I doubt 100 yrs from now there will even be a potter except in the 3rd world countries where there is no money to sue for. Pardon the rant, sometimes I wonder how far we've come anyway.

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#11 JBaymore

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 04:10 PM

Hummmmmm.......

 

Education in the field is available.  Insurance from suits is available.  We do still teach students (at least at my college) ceramic chemistry and the basic potential liability and legal issues involved, and they mix clays and glazes and such.  And so on.

 

What is questionable however, at least in my mind, is someone taking 2 - 12 or 15 week pottery classes or something like that and deciding to "hang out their professional shingle" and sell their work to the public based upon the total knowledge aquired in that rather cursory way.  Sorry,....... that is not "politically correct" to say these days, but it is true.  In my mind it is GOOD that "beginners" as they are called above are made well  aware that they should be grasping a lot more skills and information before they go down the "professional" or "semi-pro" route.

 

best,

 

......................john


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#12 Babs

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 09:31 PM

The biggest advantage of commercially bought glazes for me, is their reliability - in my small electric kiln with the ready mixed pots, for example, you get what it says on the tin, so to speak. But this feels like cheating to me and is expensive when the quantity of work increases.
I've had so many glaze issues and horrible results, with commercially mixed powdered glaze and have been wondering about mixing my own, getting my head into the chemistry of it all, so I can make adjustments if necessary. It feels like a great cliff climb in terms of the learning required. All I want to achieve is 3 or 4 glazes that I can dip, pour or occasionally spray, even just a couple of base glazes (shiny and matt) to which I can add stains or oxides, would be good. I have the colourants. Now I've rambled on a bit, I'll ask question, is it worth finding commercial base glazes that work with my clay (white earthenware) and playing around with the colourants, or shall I bite the bullet and buy the raw materials for the bases (e.g. Linda Bloomfield's simple recipes) and take it from there?

Try the glaze recipes in Linda's book, you don't have to drop what you have,  just test a couple in your firings. There are some great books on glazes and glaze chemisrty if you cannot access courses. You'll find it an exciting path to take, but take notes!!



#13 Chris Campbell

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 10:38 PM

I thought that the intent of this forum was to promote ceramics art, to encourage individuals to move forward and to produce. I am beginning to have my doubts.   I was under the impression that the companies advertising on Ceramic Arts Daily such as Amaco, produced products worth buying.  That, I do not doubt.
 
This thread seems to have turned into a witch hunt hell-bent on intimidating newcomers with implausible legalese argument and a circling of the old-guard wagons.  I will agree to disagree as to whether non-food ceramics can be sold by those without a university degree or equivalent, and further to that would submit that there is a lowest passing grade member in every ceramics class...
 
Education, never actually stops, however much one may boast as to how overloaded with it they may be. There is always room to grow. And there is no 'insurance from lawsuit.'


What I would say is that you cannot tell anyone anything less than Best Practices on a public Internet forum. What anyone chooses to do with that information is up to them. So far, no one can come into your studio and make you do things right.
Monona Rossell (sp?) has been the champion of studio safety for years and has been called every vile name in the book for her stands on potters health and safety. She has been proven right more often than not, but many still do not want to hear it.
No one on this Board has said you need a university degree to read a glaze book and follow directions.
Glaze manufacturers make good products but they too cannot stand over anyone in their studio to make sure they use it right.
What I have heard here is cautions to learn your craft so you are making a safe product.

Chris Campbell
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#14 PSC

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Posted 17 November 2013 - 03:12 AM

What a strange topic to have gone so controversial.

But stepping around from the elephant in the room... Lots of factors go into the choice of commercial glazes... For me its about storage, i do not have room to store the chemicals.

I would love to have a gas breathing giant of a kiln like back in college in the backyard but my budget is small and my yard only a 1/2 acre with neighbors on all sides. Once out of college i quickly figured i would have to fire electric ox instead of my beloved reduction.

Now about those lovely glazes that claim to look like cone 10 reduction...they don't...but thats ok...they look lovely in their own right and i enjoy the variety of surface and the flow they give my work. Its like meat replacement patties for vegetarians...no the chickenless chick'n patties do not taste remotely like chicken but thats ok cause they taste good on a biscuit in the morning all the same.

#15 lwa

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Posted 17 November 2013 - 05:35 AM

(e.g. Linda Bloomfield's simple recipes) and take it from there?

 

Hi Celia,

 

Are you talking about Linda Bloomfield's book 'Colour in Glazes'? Since the question of food safety is being discussed I'll just mention that while it's a great book for getting colour ideas, there isn't much talk of food safety, and there are glazes in there which I'm fairly sure are a long way from food safe.

 

I'm a beginner going down the route of mixing my own glazes to fire in a small electric kiln. I haven't had to set aside a huge amount amount of space (yet)- just using my small (standard UK size) garage.  I'm doing it this way because as a hobbyist I'm free to pursue what seems more interesting to me, without worrying about the occasional mis-hap or kiln-load of ugly brown failures!  Like you, I've not been able to find any kind of formal education on glazing. I did go to evening classes for a while, but we were kept at arms length from the kiln and all glazes were commercially bought - it was more aimed at people wanting something to make something to "show and tell" rather than wanting to learn. Anyway, I've found the following three books good to get started with this:

 

- Mastering Cone 6 Gazes, Hesselberth and Roy. Lots on information on how to formulate stable and reliable glazes -- all based around the fires oxide composition of the glaze. Frustratingly only the e-book is available now, and you need an apple device of some kind. There is a black and white version printed still, but shipping to the UK was rather a lot.

- The Craft and Art of Clay, Susan Peterson and Jan Peterson. This is not specifically about glazes, but it has an appendix with a relatively thorough explanation on how to calculate the oxide composition of glaze from the raw materials, and vice-versa.

- Colour in Glazes, Linda Bloomfield. Good for info on colouring oxides, and also has typical material analysis for standard UK frits and raw materials - very useful for combining with the above two.

 

 

Liam



#16 Celia UK

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Posted 17 November 2013 - 08:49 AM

Thanks Babs - someone has jumped off the fence at last! I can't believe the strength of feeling this thread prompted, it all seemed pretty tame at the outset!
Liam - it is Colour in Glazes I'm referring to. Most of my work is ornamental rather than functional, so generally these recipes should be okay. However, there's always the occasional mug to consider, so I should make sure I'm aware of the main food safety issues. I'm currently firing at earthenware temperatures, so I thought that Mastering cone 6 Glazes might not be right for me at present. As I have an Ipad, the ebook would actually suit me. The hard copies were rather pricey - £200 new and £77 second hand on Amazon. I assume they won't be appropriate for earthenware? When I first started, a couple of years back, the supplier suggested white earthenware when I described what I was planning to make and I've just stuck with it. I'm not really sure what should prompt me to move into stoneware. Perhaps if I start to make more functional pieces - more strength?
I'm not even sure if my white earthenware can be fired higher than the recommended range (1060-1160) and what would happen if I did.
Off to my studio shortly to salvage a delicate piece of greenware that I managed to break - something the experienced members on the forum always advise against ('bin it and make a new one'), but I've had some success in the past and actually get quite a buzz when a seemingly broken piece is retrieved and no one is any the wiser. Before anyone shouts back at me - I'm a hobby potter, and don't (yet) sell my work. I'm also such a perfectionist, that if there was any evidence of a repair, it would be straight into my recycling bucket!

#17 Roberta12

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Posted 17 November 2013 - 11:46 AM

Celia, Thank you for your post which generated a great deal of discussion!   I started mixing my own glazes because

  • I wanted to know what was in the glaze
  • I wanted to learn more about glaze chemistry
  • I wanted to explore the variations on color
  • it was cheaper
  • I sort of have space for the storage of chemicals

I read a lot of books on glazes/chemistry/etc.   And with that became pretty horrified at how nonchalant my previous studio mates were concerning glazes and their use.   I continue to learn more and more about what sort of glazes I want to be mixing.   Apparently that is what draws me to pottery.  I learn something new every single day.   But if you don't have room for the dry chemicals (or buckets of glaze) and don't have access to someone to mentor you or don't have the educational resources, commercial glazes would be the best way to go until you do! I would also like to take a really good glaze workshop.  There is just simply so much to learn.   but that is what makes this craft so fascinating!



#18 Babs

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Posted 17 November 2013 - 11:43 PM

A bit more time searching for glaze books in your firing range should come up with something, they are around.

We all learn in different ways and if you can read and apply what you read, there are a lot of people out there who have learned enough about glaze chemistry to tackle doing it without a mentor or a course. These are just very time efficient ways of giving experience and information to masses... Not a criticism, guys,  just an observation.

The real trick is testing before walloping it on every pot and every surface, there are articles on how to do this.

Your earthenware body prob. will not stand going far beyond the range that is recommended but, hey, you could try a piece, just protect your shelf with a prefired disc of a high firing clay as your clay may slump and bloat, and make a mess of your shelf.

Go Celia!

Test stuff , start by following the recipes as given in your book and then you can line blend materials and see what works, or substitute the colourant for one of your choice. Again test increments of percentages of the colourant and see which strength you like.

Bit like baking really, but make a mess and it is bit more expensive.

Google glaze recipes and the cone you fire to and you may pick up a good base glaze.



#19 oldlady

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 12:30 AM

celia, sorry, i don't know what cone you fire to.  if it is ^6, there is an old paperback from the 70s by george and nancy wettlaufer called "Getting into pots" which has a simplistic look but has solid information re glazes.  george is a ceramics engineer and though you might laugh at the outfits worn and the style of pots made, you are given several good base glaze recipes from which to start.  explanations are concise and make sense.

 

it will cost little, if you can find it, so shipping from the US should be a reasonable part of your investment. you can consider it an inexpensive alternative to a workshop.


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#20 PeterH

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 04:22 AM

Re Oldlady's suggested book, you can find copies via www.bookfinder.com at http://tinyurl.com/o6jwb8x






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