I grew up in Western Pennsylvania (coal country), and I can remember an orange-tinged stream close to my grandmother’s house. The cause was Acid Mine Drainage, which contaminates waterways near coal mines with iron, creating biological dead zones. So I was particularly interested in an article in the February 2014 issue of Ceramics Monthly. In this article, which I am excerpting from today, Skip Sensbach explains how one organization is turning this environmental hazard into a usable resource while cleaning up waterways.- Jennifer Harnetty, editor.
Glaze mixing can be daunting to the novice, especially when the recipe contains an ingredient that is unfamiliar or unavailable. But with a few simple melt tests, you can learn a lot about what materials do at your firing range and start making educated guesses as to what might make a good substitute for the unfamiliar ingredient. In today’s post, an excerpt from our new Ceramic Handbook Cone 5-6 Glazes: Materials and Recipes, Deanna Ranlett walks us through the testing she did to find substitutes for some frits. By following her lead, you can figure out substitutes for the materials you might be missing in a glaze! – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.
It is especially true in the ceramics world that one person’s fault is another person’s fancy – especially when it comes to glaze “defects.” Many ceramic artists deliberately create faults in their glaze surfaces to achieve a particular aesthetic. But, of course, there are some cases in which a glaze must be perfect for reasons of safety or hygiene. So just in case glaze defects are driving you “craze-y” (sorry, I just couldn’t “resist”), today Robin Hopper gives some expert pointers on how to solve five of the most common pottery glaze problems (such as crawling, shown at left). – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.
Ahhh plasticity! It’s the property of clay that got us hooked on clay in the first place. Caused by just the right mixture of water and particle size, plasticity is what transforms dry cracky clay (like in the image to the left) into a workable material. Plasticity separates clay from dirt. In today’s post, an excerpt from the second edition of Understanding Ceramic Raw Materials: Ceramic Glaze Materials and Clay Making Ingredients (the second, expanded edition of which is available as a free download now!), we learn all about this magical characteristic.
There are probably as many kinds of clay as there are riverbanks, creekbeds, roadcuts, abandoned coal mines and backyard gullies, but most of the clays that many of us use on a regular basis are commercially mined.
There is an abundance of clay in my area, and I have occasionally
thought about making work out of local clay. But the process seemed
intimidating, so I never actually tried it (or maybe it was a matter of
laziness!). But as Graham Sheehan demonstrates in today’s video clip,
the process is not all that difficult. It might not be practical for
everyone, but if you’re willing to do a little bit of manual labor,
digging your own clay can be a great way to create an even closer
connection to the work you make, and help lessen your carbon footprint
in the process. Watch the video!
In today’s post, ceramic artist Dee Schaad presents a project that combines two simple handbuilding techniques – pinching and soft slab building – to make figurative sculptures.
The objective is to locate one single earth material that alone almost provides the desired surface, and then to add as few additional materials as possible. I call this primary material, which almost achieves the desired glaze surface, a “glaze core.”