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rayaldridge

Changes In Studio Pottery Glazes Over The Last 40 Years

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In another recent thread, member TJR made an interesting observation.  He pointed out that what customers want has changed significantly since I began working, back in the Stone Age.  He implied that traditional glazes such as celadons and temmokus are less likely to find fans than they once did, and that white and colored glazes are more popular.

 

That strikes me as okay, for me personally.  I started out as much a fan of the Leach tradition as you were likely to find, and my early glazes reflected that devotion.  But after the first few years, I started to wear out a little on glazes from the far east.  At the time, there was a whole other esthetic going on in the American SE, led by potters like Charles Counts, who promoted electric mid-fired wares with earth-colored matte glazes.  I found this a bit boring, personally-- I wanted the excitement and unpredictability of high-fired reduction glazes.

 

However, as my glazes evolved, I went in the direction of white and colored glazes, and even more eccentric (for the times) shiny glazes.

 

Now I'm firing in a slightly lower range, in electric kilns, and these same sorts of glazes are still appealing to me.  I like a lot of visual texture and complexity, so that it's not possible to completely take in a piece until you have lived with it for a while.  I still like shiny glazes, but my favorite glazes tend to have variation, with some matte areas to add to the visual variety.

 

So I might once again be completely out of step with current trends.  I don't know.

 

I'd love to hear from other potters on how they perceive their glazes as meeting current fashions in the pottery-buying public.

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Over the past 25 plus years I have used 18 different clays covering the whole spectrum from white to red and with and without various speckling .  I have also tested many glazes - some from my teacher, most from books, clay magazines etc.  Some I really loved and used on many different clays with good results but I was always looking for that "perfect" glaze.  I found some clays just sucked the color right out of lovely glazes.

This January I went back to Laguna #55 which I had used a few times over the years.  My glazes - most are glossy, a few satin mattes - are really beautiful on this clay.  I am tired of always testing and it is so nice to know that I can depend on the results, as much as a potter can!

My pots are utilitarian, simple and straight forward to be used and enjoyed.   I have been doing a few very local craft shows every fall and the same people come every year to see what I have--that is what is fun--the connection with your customers.   They say make what you love and not what someone tells you to.

Best to everyone on their clay journey.

Ginny

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In the past 40 plus years my glazes have changed somewhat. I started with snappy stoneware glazes-most where shiny many where earth tones with a few matts.

That was the 70's . In the middle 80's I switched to 100% porcelain as they sold better and what sold best was shiny snappy glazes.I have stuck with that trend (the ones that sell well)the past 30 years.

I used to only use one or two glazes per piece. I still do a few simple glaze colors but as time has gone by my glazing has turned more to complex many glazes per pot-up to 5 on one piece.. These pieces sell well. There are still folks who like simple glazing and I cover there needs as well. Glazes like celadon only sell well for me if they have about 2-3 other colors with them on the same piece.

This subject brings to bear current color trends or for me street smarts on color and sales.

 

One point I would like to add is that in diffeent areas of the country different colors sell better. Say when I go to the desert southwest vs the Pacific northwestI glaze accordingly. You learn this color shift from sales and that takes years to learn just like kiln building and throwing and glaze making and firing.Cermics takes so long to get all the factors mastered before ones life runs out.

For me glazes evolve over time with sales -for example I had a bucket of Orbie mixed up for years with very little use or sales .

I started to use it in a complex 4-5 glaze setup called landscape on wares and it took of on sales. Now I use alot of it.

But in another 5 years it will be something else that I'm doing thats just the progression og glaze use. I still offer my cutomers most glazes that I have used in my dinnerware as these have stood up to decades of use and sales.

I'm using 15-18 buckets now . Yesterday I glazed two loads in 10 hours-today its firing day-time to throw some pots.

Mark

Mark

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The best advice I received from Mark Cortright. He said to "cover your bases."

In other words, have a variety of colours for customers to choose from. I now include some brown glazed pots. People still buy them. My Celadon is still sitting there.

Like Mark said, regional interest differs in likes and dislikes.

Complicated.

TJR.

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Guest JBaymore

I've been using about the same 9-10 glazes... with maybe a couple additions/alterations ...... for about 37 years now, ever since moving to my present studio location in southern NH.  Most won't believe this, but I believe that I am just getting to know them. 

 

I don't plan to change "with the times".  I make what I make.  My audience is people who appreciate what I make.

 

There are two general categories of ways to make work.  1.)  Make what you make and then find the audience.  2.) Find what the audience wants and make that.  I'm of the former school.

 

Something that is clearly apparent to me is the busy-ness and frenetic qualities to a huge portion of today's ceramic work.  30 years or so ago.... the work tended to be more "quiet".  The modern trend is likely a reflection of our culture's overloaded, frenetic, media-driven, attention-span-deficit kind of lifestyle.  We are bombarded with images, information, and distractions from all points these days.  To get our attention....... clay work sort of has to be "in-your-face".

 

The concept of surface embellishment and the layering and overlapping of surface enrichment elements is all the rage now.  (Makes "crazy" Oribe ware from Japan in the late 16 century look absolutely "quiet!)  Book upon book...article upon article...workshop upon workshop.   Sometimes it seems that form has taken a total back seat to the surface in a big way.  I see lots of skillful surface graphics and techniques.... on some pretty marginal forms.

 

Often, in the case of functional work, all the surface craziness is so overpowering and strong that it does not leave any room for the FOOD to be presented on the pieces.  They fight with each other.

 

Personally I am not a big fan of this overall trend.  I prefer contemplative and subtle pieces that meld form AND surface.  That it takes time to get to know.  That draw you in.

 

Call me a dinosaur. :ph34r:

 

best,

 

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

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thank you, John, for putting into words my feelings.  

 

IMO all visuals for the last ??years have screamed.

 

paintings from the late 1800s showed life as it happened and we see city scenes of buildings, people walking, riding in carriages, the way the light changes, bucolic scenes with trees, sky, etc.  restful things that were thought representative of what was around people and attractive to the viewer. 

 

the frenetic jumble of images presented to the average person these days is astoundingly complex and not at all restful.  just think of the hundreds of 10 second multi-shot commercials that go past our eyes endlessly in one day.

 

lots of the pots i see are similar in their lack of focus and intentional distractions.  maybe i am just too old to LIKE my mind being attacked at all times in all ways. 

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Yes, I think the constant attack on all senses in todays scene can stop the mind from quiet contemplation  of form and it seems to me the busyness of pieces  and their surface decoration adds to this. Having a cup of tea from a vessel which shouts at me detracts from that experience.

Maybe there are potters glazes and glazes which scream "look at me look at me ". Fortunately I guess for all potters, there are people who love different vessels. 

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I do agree with John. What I am saying though is that peoples tastes in pots have changed over the last 30 years. I also have been doing it since 1975.

One thing that does not change is that you have to have a strong form. This is 90% of the pot. The glazing is just the icing on the cake. Good decoration will not save a bad pot.

TJR.

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I like quiet pots too, but there's "quiet" and there's "boring."  John's pots are not boring, I hasten to add.  He goes to a lot of trouble to make sure his pots have interesting variations in both surface and form, and that's admirable.

 

I make pots I like, and back when I was making a living, sort of, from my work, that meant I ate a lot of macaroni and cheese.  In the SE at that time, my work was completely out of step with the fashion.

 

I'm still making work that appeals to me, and hoping that it appeals to others as well.  One good thing about working now, as opposed to back in the 70s, is that we can have a world-wide market for our wares, and I think it may be easier to find a market that appreciates what you do-- easier than back when logistics tended to limit the area in which you could market your stuff.

 

One temptation that I have to deal with is the fact that I'm a fairly competent draftsman and sculptor, and sometimes I want to put those skills to work.  On the other hand, I'm largely uninterested in making sculpture, though I really like to look at it.  Also, I'm somewhat fanatical about making only functional wares.  My personal definition of "functional" is probably a lot narrower than most folks-- it's been decades since I made a vase.

 

But anyway, back to glazes.  I've been getting the most satisfaction from glazes that look quiet from a distance, but on close examination have a lot of subtle variation.  This is in accord with my hope that my pieces will be used daily, and examined over and over in the hands of the user.  There should be a lot to discover in that close examination, in my opinion.  I'll post a few examples of glaze treatments I like a lot.

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Guest JBaymore

 John's pots are not boring, I hasten to add. 

 

 

Thanks.  Some likely DO think they are boring though.  :mellow:  

 

best,

 

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

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The Philistines are always with us.

 

noun
1.
(sometimes initial capital letter) a person who is lacking in or hostile or smugly indifferent to cultural values, intellectual pursuits, aesthetic refinement, etc., or is contentedly commonplace in ideas and tastes.
 
"Hey Mabel!  Come over here and see what this hippie made out of dirt."
 
/They can still buy my pots, if they want to.

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Guest JBaymore

Not Philistines. Just folks with different outlooks.  They go their way... I go mine.

 

best,

 

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

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