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Practical Difference Between Mason Stains And Oxide Washes?

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#1 TortoiseAvenger


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Posted 16 July 2014 - 01:22 PM

I'm searching for a way to get a finish like that in the pictures attached. Both Oxide washes and Mason stains have been recommended. I did a little research, and it seems that a big benefit of Mason stains is that they are more "what you see is what you get."


Given what I'm going for, does anyone have recommendations or information on the similarities/differences that might guide my decision? I could always use both, but I'm not sure when to use what.





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#2 schmism


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Posted 16 July 2014 - 01:37 PM

I was my understanding that


oxides were old school, "raw" natural type materials which resulted in more muted colors.  


Mason stains were modern colorants that are lab created, thus more "what you see is what you get" and more vivid in colors.


Not to say there is anything wrong with either one. 

#3 Bob Coyle

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 01:37 PM

Mason stains are just finely ground colored frits. There is nothing superior to them as compared with raw pigments like cobalt carb or iron oxide. They are used to get colors that you cannot get easily with just oxides. That is why they are more expensive. It is true that the color of the frit is closer to what you will see on the finished piece, but the colors in the pictures you posted  could all be gotten from  common oxides used in washes.... red iron oxide, manganes dioxide, yellow ocher, either alone or in combination.


Play around a little by combining oxide washes. You might get something beautiful.

#4 Chris Campbell

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 03:32 PM

All three pieces look like oxide washes to me.
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#5 neilestrick


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Posted 16 July 2014 - 04:00 PM

Many oxide and stain washes will need to be cut with some flux, such as frit, to get them to bond well with the clay. It totally depends on the oxide/stain and how you're firing as to whether or not that will be necessary. To avoid having to do that you can use commercial underglazes. For thin washes they can be watered down. You may find that it's an easier, and sometimes cheaper way to go than buying stains.

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#6 JBaymore



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Posted 17 July 2014 - 12:04 PM

Stains usually are blends of materials supplying chemistry that are there to influence and stabilize the colors produced.  They are melted and ground... but I'm not sure I would use the term "frit" when looking at them.  The colors porduces form a given colorant are GREATLY impacted by the chemistry of the glaze material that they are out into.  Stains were developed to help remopve SOME of this variability.  They are not "bulletproof" in this regard: see the manufacturer's information about the nature of the bases glazes they work in.


Typically... they are not "oversupplied" with a particular fluxing oxide..... so they do not typically behave like using an "oxide wash" where usually you have a saturation of a particuler oxide on the suirface of the clay.  As Neil says... to use them like washes usually needs the additiona of some material supplying some flux and a glass former.





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Former Guest Professor, Wuxi Institute of Arts and Science, Yixing, China

Former President and Past President; Potters Council



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