Sometimes, though you may find it absolutely impossible to believe, I just feel beat down. And, if I’m honest, it’s all your fault. Sorry, but there it is. I just spent the better part of an evening cleaning out my email Inbox—and it is nowhere near cleaned out. I looked up after several hours of responding to, sorting, filing, and deleting (you know who you are) messages, only to see that I had barely made a dent. Now, I will accept some small part of the responsibility for this, because I keep asking you to send me your thoughts, ideas, and feedback—but how was I to know you would actually do it?!


Yes, I know, poor me. Those of us who live and die by email like to compare Inboxes as a kind of competition. We all have a bit of a martyr complex about it (“Oh, there is just so much to deal with . . .”; “You think you have a lot of emails . . .”). Rather than seeing it as a shortcoming, an inability to handle the volume of everyday communication, it is seen as a badge of status. And, if I do say so, the person in our office who could possibly challenge me in email Inbox volume once got a look at mine and her jaw dropped. Personally, I think she’s just better at actually answering inquiries, which is why it’s a good thing that’s her job instead of mine.


This is my most recent recycling project. Pretty soon, these will be glaze. Of course, silica is not that expensive, but it’s not about price (at least not finances), it’s about the satisfaction that comes from being a thrifty potter, and from hands-on experimentation with materials.

Well, enough of my complaining about the incredible technology that has made all of our lives easier in some ways and more difficult in others, and on to discussing one of the ways in which I shun technology in order to appreciate what can be done with found ceramic material. In my continual quest for ways in which I can spend far too much time gaining far too little advantage, I have decided to make glaze out of container glass—specifically, green bottle glass. No, silica is not so expensive that I need to cut this corner. No, it’s not that copper green is a difficult color to achieve (if you don’t believe me, check out John Britt’s Techno File on copper this month). And it is most certainly not because I have all kinds of free time to spend crushing glass by hand and screening it and conducting glaze tests. Mostly, it’s because I think it’s just so satisfying to make use of what is at hand. I enjoy the labor of it; the physical effort required to change one object into raw material for the creation of another object is transformative not only for the material, but for my understanding of how the world fits together, of how many things we take for granted. For instance, even though I really love pots, I appreciate the fact that there are people making nice, perfect bottles for the storage, delivery, and consumption of beer. I especially enjoy thinking about how a glaze made from those bottles might influence my making process from start to finish. What form would I make if I knew it was getting a bottle-green glaze on it? Heck, I may even throw some wine bottle shapes for this glaze just to visually illustrate the absurdity of this endeavor (still, I think it’s only a little absurd).


And in order to make me feel like I am not alone (and because I clearly need more email), I am proposing a summer project for all those who are interested: Make a glaze from bottle glass. You have to use actual bottles, not an approximation of the formula below. The one condition is that you must send me images not only of how you made the glass into powder—carefully, of course, using gloves and glasses—but your finished glaze. Don’t worry, I’ll share, too. 

Here is the generic percentage formula for soda-lime container glass that I am using as an assumption for the bottles:

Soda-lime Container Glass
CaO 10.00 %
K2O 0.30
Na2O 13.00
SO3 0.20
MgO 0.20
Al2O3 1.30
SiO2 75.00
  100.00 %



I am sure there are a variety of formulae out there, but they are largely similar from what I can tell, and really, this is not an exercise in accuracy; it’s an exercise in discovery. Now let’s go make glaze—I’ll make room in my Inbox.  —Sherman Hall




Click here to leave a comment