How to Properly Mix Glazes

This is how my partner-in-crime teaches her students to mix glazes. Seems effective.

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Artwork of the Week, 1/27

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Alex Cooper, Spiral

6 x 6 x 10″, Stoneware with Midfire Glaze

Slabs. Lots of them. Cut into squares, stacked, fired, and glazed. Not much more I can say about it–Alex did a good job conceptualizing and following through. It’s simple, but well-constructed and well-done.

Artwork of the Week, 1/20

Trevor Brockhaus, Starry Night Coil Pot, 9 x 9 x 18″

A little ceramics work, some art history action, and voila! Starry Night Coil Pot. The technical skill is not great, but still pretty good. What I really like is the dedication Trevor had when he decided to put this all together, and more importantly, the problem solving skills he had to utilize throughout the project. It’s not easy to translate two dimensions into three, especially with a circular form, but I think he’s done pretty well with it.

Scholastic Art Awards 2014

Today was the deadline for the Scholastic Art Awards here in Nebraska. Our art department doesn’t have the money we once did, so our entries have been scaled back considerably. I am, however, really excited about the two portfolios we entered. I’m not sure how they’ll do when it comes time for judging, but I love the effort the kids put in to creating the work, documenting the work, writing and editing their artist statements, and putting everything together for their entries. I thought I should share.

Here is Alex’s portfolio of ceramics and sculpture pieces:

Here is Shara’s drawing portfolio:

I’m very proud of these two ladies.

Artwork of the Week, 11/25

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I finally got around to firing and photographing the ceramics pieces we’ve had sitting around for a while. This piece was created by Alex Johnson. It was made with a slump mold to form the top and bottom of the base. The neck is wheel-thrown, and the handle is hand-built. It’s just under 12″ tall, and I love the glaze.

So, Our Glaze is Bubbling

Alex Cooper, Cereal Bowl

Sometimes, teachers and students miscommunicate on low-fire v. mid-fire, and this is the result. The glaze was fired to a mid-fire temperature, and instead of running everywhere, it decide to boil and bubble. It’s a weird result, for sure, but I don’t think it’s all bad.

Now, just to keep people from handling it, breaking the bubbles, and cutting up their hands . . .

Glaze Reclamation

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Ten years ago, I took over the art room that I am currently in. Waiting for me, in amongst the indescribable mess of hoarded materials, was a collection of glazes that had to have taken YEARS to put together.  Literally hundreds upon hundreds of jars of glazes, almost all of which were completely dried out. The smart move would be to toss them out and save myself the headache, but it’s tough to discard thousands of dollars worth of materials. Instead I decided to reclaim them.

It’s a process to reclaim glazes, but a little patience and elbow grease (generally provided by student aides) go a long way. I’ve ordered other glazes intermittently, but 10 years in, I’m still using the original stash. They’re old, they’re gross, and I don’t even know if I’m doing it right, but the glazes are still being utilized and still look good when fired.

Here’s my process:

1) Break down the dry glaze into smaller pieces. Obviously wear a mask if there is a lot of powder.

2) Cover with water, and let sit overnight.

3) Stir, then break up chunks of glaze, then stir, then break up chunks of glaze, then stir, then break up chunks of glaze, then . . .  (I use wood footing sticks, and they have always seemed to work well). This can easily take a couple of days, especially if the glaze was dry to begin with.

4) Stir some more. As the glaze is getting smoother, keep slowly adding water to get the glaze thinned to the consistency needed. Then stir it some more.

5) Break out your blender and finish the job.

If you don’t have a blender, by the way, get one for the art room. Great for making slip really smooth, getting casting slip to the consistency needed, and of course, reclaiming glazes.

Like I said, I’m not even sure that this is the right way to do things, so I’m open to corrections/suggestions. But it is a process that has worked for me.

Thrift Shop (Ceramics Edition)

Since I know you’ve been wondering to yourself: “Man, what if that ‘Thrift Shop’ song by Macklemore was actually about ceramics? How cool would that be?” Well, wonder no more.

I wish I had the time to record this version, and make a video, but for now, we’ll have to settle for just the lyrics. I have the song here (the clean version), and I’ll suggest you give a listen and replace with our ceramics lyrics below.

And yes, this is what I did with my plan time today.

 

I’m gonna throw some pots

Only got twenty pounds of buff stoneware

I – I – I’m throwing, making some ceramics

This is ****** awesome

 

Walk up to the art room like, “What up, I got a big pot!”

I’m so pumped about well-fitted lids on top

Glaze on the pot, it’s so damn frosty

That people like, “Damn! That’s some cold-*** pottery!”

 

Centering, opening, headin’ to the wheel that’s clean

Dressed in a smock, but my throwing shoes ain’t ever clean

Draped in denim aprons, girls standin’ next to me

Probably shoulda washed these, they ain’t been clean in weeks!

But man, I still gotta go throw!

 

Trimmin’ it, glazin’ it , ‘bout to go and get some compliments

Openin’ up the kiln my collection has been fired in

 

But me and my pots firing it man

I am dipping and painting and

Pouring on my piece and I’m hella happy that’s a low-fire glaze

I’ma take your recipe, I’ma take your recipe

No for real-check your glaze record—can I make a photocopy?

 

Soft porcelain and some new calipers

Ugly brown and green glazes I found diggin’

They had some crystalline glaze, I bought some crystalline glaze

I bought a kiln setter, now I can go three-phase

Hello, hello, my glaze man, my Mello

George Ohr’s moustache got nothing on my clay game, hell no

I could throw some nice mugs, attach handles, sell those

The gallery peeps would be like “Aw, those are hand-pulled!”

 

[Hook x2]

I’m gonna throw some pots

Only got twenty pounds of buff stoneware

I – I – I’m throwing, making some ceramics

This is ****** awesome

 

What you know about raku and kiln firing?

What you knowin’ about glazin’ and oxidation?

I’m throwing, I’m throwing, I’m trimming and putting a foot on

One man’s dirt, that’s another man’s artwork

 

Thank your granddad for donating that nice wood footing stick

‘Cause right now I’m up in here throwin’

I’m in the art room, you can find me on the (kick wheel)

I’m not, I’m not sick of the art room where I’m throwin’ (kick wheel)

 

Your grandma, your auntie, your mama, your mammie

I’ll impress those ladies when I throw some bowls, I’ll rock that ****

The big pedestal with my art on that ****

I hit the art show and they stop in that ****

 

They be like “Oh, that blue glaze – that’s hella tight”

I’m like “Yo – that’s cone 5 and it’s a midfire”

Put it back in the kiln, gotta cycle it once again

Twenty hours for a firing—that’s just the important ****

I call that getting thrown then trimmed

I call that getting glazed after bisque

 

My work’s ready to go

And having unique work that stands out keeps me original

Critique? Come take a look at my artwork, though

Trying to make art without effort? Man you hella won’t

Man you hella won’t

 

Clay work … Ceramics!

 

[Bridge x2]
I made a portfolio

My work’s incredible

I threw this big *** bowl

In that art room down the road

 

I’m gonna throw some pots

Only got twenty pounds of buff stoneware

I – I – I’m throwing, making some ceramics

This is ****** awesome

________________________________________

P.S.–The line about George Ohr and his moustache? He’s a famous ceramic artist who looks like this: