Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
sarhurdle

Naturally sourcing for glazes

Recommended Posts

Hey,

I'm currently in my final year at University, and trying to compose my dissertation/research document. I am researching the effects of different clay bodies with ash glazes. I have already started to experiment, but need a little more information from other potters.

 

Within recent times, it has become so easy to buy in readily prepared materials from stockists all over the world, and it seems more and more potters have/are losing that wonderful connection with the natural sources that can be found in the environment around them.

 

I was wondering what your thoughts were on the matter, how many of you out there consciously decide to use natural materials within your glazes? Why do you, or do you not, use natural sources? Is it convenience, cost? Or what qualities draw you to the use of natural materials? I know for myself, I love using wood ash for the imperfections, the excitement of not knowing how it will come out, as each batch is different. I also love the more mottled and subtle tones that can be found using the wood ashes.

 

Some people dislike using natural sources for those very reasons, and rather use prepared materials as they are consistent and allow for accurate reproduction. Other much prefer the crisp and brighter colours you can get with the use of prepared materials.

 

I would be very thankful and very interested for any responses and thoughts.

 

Sarah, Cumbria, U.K

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm experimenting with naturally occurring feldspar deposits that I've found locally in ash deposits. These are well cataloged ash deposits that can be referenced in geologic records. My primary reason for doing this is for a unique look in my ware. Also it gives me a deeper connection to my work to have prepared raw materials dug from the earth by hand.

 

My interest in this began when my instructor in college explained to me that a very talented potter whose work I'd admired had done this. His glaze work was dynamic and differed from most other work I'd seen. His glazes were so beautiful and clean looking you'd never know that they were from materials he'd collected from river deposits on his property.

 

I took two years of geology to learn how to identify and collect materials from the field. I can now identify the majority of the materials that are required to formulate a glaze. This is all in the testing phase at this point. I don't have all the equipment I need to crush and refine the materials easily, so the work is difficult. When I can afford to build a crusher and a bigger mill it will be a more worth while endeavor. I have however spent the time to locate dig and am testing some of the materials in small quantities. It's fun, and provides a unique experience in making pottery.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Frankly, it's too damn much trouble for me to go out and dig and process my own rock and clay, especially, if, like me, you just want to make things and concentrate on their design and construction. Author Jeff Zamek makes the point that for the average potter, it is easier, and more economically sound, to buy your materials, so that you can concentrate on making. But then, some people are very interested in the very beginnings of a craft, and will cut their own logs for turning, or harvest and dye their own fibers for weaving, etc.

 

At one point, I thought it would be fun to do, so I purchased the book Glazes from Natural Sources (2nd edition) by Brian Sutherland (1929-1988). This book will tell you how to locate glaze materials, and forumulate, test, and best use the glazes. It also shows you how to make some equipment, like a beam scale, ball mill, and other test materials, how to do line and triaxial blend, Seger formulas, etc. This book, along with Harry Davis' The Potter's Alternative, should really get you up and running.

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/Glazes-Natural-Sources-Brian-Sutherland/dp/0812219457/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1319340255&sr=1-1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Frankly, it's too damn much trouble for me to go out and dig and process my own rock and clay, especially, if, like me, you just want to make things and concentrate on their design and construction. Author Jeff Zamek makes the point that for the average potter, it is easier, and more economically sound, to buy your materials, so that you can concentrate on making. But then, some people are very interested in the very beginnings of a craft, and will cut their own logs for turning, or harvest and dye their own fibers for weaving, etc.

 

At one point, I thought it would be fun to do, so I purchased the book Glazes from Natural Sources (2nd edition) by Brian Sutherland (1929-1988). This book will tell you how to locate glaze materials, and forumulate, test, and best use the glazes. It also shows you how to make some equipment, like a beam scale, ball mill, and other test materials, how to do line and triaxial blend, Seger formulas, etc. This book, along with Harry Davis' The Potter's Alternative, should really get you up and running.

 

 

http://www.amazon.co...19340255&sr=1-1

 

 

Thank you so much for your response! I already have Glazes from Natural Sources which is a brilliant book for technical information, and have already conducted my triaxial blend (sooo time consuming, but such a valuable process) I tend to be one of those people who loves to work with natural sources, I dye my fabrics for my textiles with natural dyes and like to use wood and vegetable ash in my glaze work... it does eat in to my making time preparing for all these processes but I tend to be in the studio all hours, simply because I love every bit of what I do, from the throwing and form development to the individual stages of surface preparation. I do often admire the glaze work of fellow potters in the studio who develop some wonderful glazes with the bought materials; I see benefits to both sides of the discussion, simply because both can identify a characteristic or the personality of the maker behind the finished piece.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm experimenting with naturally occurring feldspar deposits that I've found locally in ash deposits. These are well cataloged ash deposits that can be referenced in geologic records. My primary reason for doing this is for a unique look in my ware. Also it gives me a deeper connection to my work to have prepared raw materials dug from the earth by hand.

 

My interest in this began when my instructor in college explained to me that a very talented potter whose work I'd admired had done this. His glaze work was dynamic and differed from most other work I'd seen. His glazes were so beautiful and clean looking you'd never know that they were from materials he'd collected from river deposits on his property.

 

I took two years of geology to learn how to identify and collect materials from the field. I can now identify the majority of the materials that are required to formulate a glaze. This is all in the testing phase at this point. I don't have all the equipment I need to crush and refine the materials easily, so the work is difficult. When I can afford to build a crusher and a bigger mill it will be a more worth while endeavor. I have however spent the time to locate dig and am testing some of the materials in small quantities. It's fun, and provides a unique experience in making pottery.

 

 

Wow! You sound like you have a wonderful dedication to naturally sourcing. The idea of naturally sourcing the entire glaze recipe sounds extremely time consuming but fantastic! I, much like you, was inspired by a wonderful potter (and it turns out, all the artists I had researched) using locally sourced natural materials.

 

I see your problem with the equipment needed to deal with the larger quantities of material to be crushed and prepared, I have been using a hand mortar crusher to grind small chunks of slate into powder - which is not only time consuming but by the time you're done, your arms will not want to throw anything with substantial weight!

 

I would be interested to see any work you may have with the naturally sources glazes if possible?

 

Many thanks for your answer,

 

Sarah

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest JBaymore

I have for probably at least 30 years used some local raw materials in my clay bodies and glazes. I use wood ash, powdered granite, chunks of granite, powdered sand obtained from the river bank on my property, and local red clay.

 

The wood ash I use is a by-product of heating our home with wood in the winter. I generate enough ash from that to last me for more than a year from that one source alone. I have to clean out the wood stoves of the accumulating ash anyway, so that part is not in any way additional labor. It gets stored in metal garbage cans for later seiving and cleaning up in the studio.

 

I wood fire my work in a noborigama, but the ash from the fireboxes is not that suitable for glaze work; some of the chemistry volatilizes out of that ash in the high temperature of the fireboxes. And a lot of the ash is often kind of fused into something resembling Post Grapenuts cereal . Sometimes I use some of it for something specialized... but it is not a main source of ash for glazes.... (other than shizenyu wink.gif ).

 

New Hampshire is known as "The Granite State" and hence my use of granite. I get what they call "dust" from a local quarry. It is already well "crushed". It is a by-product from their cutting and shaping operations. The materials as I get it is from 1/4" pieces down to "fines". For glaze use I take that "dust" and ball mill it for 6 hours. For clay body additions, it goes into the clay exactly as it comes from the quarry. I have a typical chemical analysis of the granite for use in my Insight glaze calc program, because they need that info for architects. (Nice!)

 

I also gather some larger chunks of that same granite from the quarry for use in clay bodies.

 

My property is surrounded on two sides by a significant river (hence the "River Bend Pottery" business name). On the banks of my property there is a significent deposit of a granitic-sourced sand. It is contaminated with hematite and other stuff. I use that material both in clay bodies as well as in glazes. For glaze use it gets ball milled for 4 hours. For clay body use it goes in as dug.

 

This area has, like most places, some red clay. This is obtained from a local sand and gravel place that washes it out of the stuff they dig up. They have no real market for it. So it is already water levigated by them, and I just get it in a pretty clean and pure shape. It gets dried out in the sun, and then used "as obtained" as a glaze ingredient. Sometimes, I do put some into clay bodies... but not all that often.

 

So I do very little "pick and shovel" work on this. And no "crushing" at all. I have sought out what is available to me in the best form that I can find. So that helps with the labor factor.

 

Using ONLY the three materials wood ash, granite powder, and red clay, you have the makings for good pallate of glazes by simply varying the percentage of each. That is not what my current overall glaze pallate actually is, but two of my main glazes take this idea into account.

 

Author Jeff Zamek makes the point that for the average potter, it is easier, and more economically sound, to buy your materials, so that you can concentrate on making.

 

I think Jeff Zamek's comments you mention there come from a somewhat narrow perspective on this concept. His dinition of "average potter" there seems to assume that you can't sell higher priced work. The viability of doing such detailed and labor intensive work all depends on what price points your work is sold at. If you know how to correctly charge for what actually goes into the production of your work, and you know how to market that work to the correct audience, then this labor factor of processing local materials should not be an issue.... just a choice.

 

If you are trying to do this approach and sell $15 mugs........ well... good luck blink.gif .

 

best,

 

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

 

PS: Atached below is a local materials glazed piece from my recent solo exhibition in Japan. EDIT: crap... I've exceeded my "global upload" capacity. Sorry.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have for probably at least 30 years used some local raw materials in my clay bodies and glazes. I use wood ash, powdered granite, chunks of granite, powdered sand obtained from the river bank on my property, and local red clay.

 

The wood ash I use is a by-product of heating our home with wood in the winter. I generate enough ash from that to last me for more than a year from that one source alone. I have to clean out the wood stoves of the accumulating ash anyway, so that part is not in any way additional labor. It gets stored in metal garbage cans for later seiving and cleaning up in the studio.

 

I wood fire my work in a noborigama, but the ash from the fireboxes is not that suitable for glaze work; some of the chemistry volatilizes out of that ash in the high temperature of the fireboxes. And a lot of the ash is often kind of fused into something resembling Post Grapenuts cereal . Sometimes I use some of it for something specialized... but it is not a main source of ash for glazes.... (other than shizenyu wink.gif ).

 

New Hampshire is known as "The Granite State" and hence my use of granite. I get what they call "dust" from a local quarry. It is already well "crushed". It is a by-product from their cutting and shaping operations. The materials as I get it is from 1/4" pieces down to "fines". For glaze use I take that "dust" and ball mill it for 6 hours. For clay body additions, it goes into the clay exactly as it comes from the quarry. I have a typical chemical analysis of the granite for use in my Insight glaze calc program, because they need that info for architects. (Nice!)

 

I also gather some larger chunks of that same granite from the quarry for use in clay bodies.

 

My property is surrounded on two sides by a significant river (hence the "River Bend Pottery" business name). On the banks of my property there is a significent deposit of a granitic-sourced sand. It is contaminated with hematite and other stuff. I use that material both in clay bodies as well as in glazes. For glaze use it gets ball milled for 4 hours. For clay body use it goes in as dug.

 

This area has, like most places, some red clay. This is obtained from a local sand and gravel place that washes it out of the stuff they dig up. They have no real market for it. So it is already water levigated by them, and I just get it in a pretty clean and pure shape. It gets dried out in the sun, and then used "as obtained" as a glaze ingredient. Sometimes, I do put some into clay bodies... but not all that often.

 

So I do very little "pick and shovel" work on this. And no "crushing" at all. I have sought out what is available to me in the best form that I can find. So that helps with the labor factor.

 

Using ONLY the three materials wood ash, granite powder, and red clay, you have the makings for good pallate of glazes by simply varying the percentage of each. That is not what my current overall glaze pallate actually is, but two of my main glazes take this idea into account.

 

Author Jeff Zamek makes the point that for the average potter, it is easier, and more economically sound, to buy your materials, so that you can concentrate on making.

 

I think Jeff Zamek's comments you mention there come from a somewhat narrow perspective on this concept. His dinition of "average potter" there seems to assume that you can't sell higher priced work. The viability of doing such detailed and labor intensive work all depends on what price points your work is sold at. If you know how to correctly charge for what actually goes into the production of your work, and you know how to market that work to the correct audience, then this labor factor of processing local materials should not be an issue.... just a choice.

 

If you are trying to do this approach and sell $15 mugs........ well... good luck blink.gif .

 

best,

 

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

 

PS: Atached below is a local materials glazed piece from my recent solo exhibition in Japan. EDIT: crap... I've exceeded my "global upload" capacity. Sorry.

 

 

 

 

 

That's pretty cool John, I worked with a potter from down south who used a green celadon that was made with granite dust from his friends mine. It was pretty neat stuff, and his work sold for high prices. I also am working on trying to prefect a celadon made from a natural material. I'll post a picture on here of the glaze when it's done in formulation.

 

We worked pretty extensively on ash glazes in college, but since I'm on my own I mostly use wollastonite glazes instead because I don't have a fireplace in my house.

 

There are a lot of local deposits in most potters area that can be used for one thing or another. The planet is some 60% silicates and a fair amount of that is good usable material in one way or another. Generally I try not to waste my time on cheap and easily obtainable materials. However there are a few things you just can't get your hands on, because no one mines or processes the material.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.