Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wandering with a purpose

I have been doing a lot of reading lately about Chun Wen Wang and Brother Thomas. I am a glaze junkie and these two seem to me to be the high point in American potters with regards to glazes.

Unfortunately neither left too many bread crumbs for others to follow. I think this is a good thing. The journey is half the fun. The detective work, the exploring.

Books focusing on Brother Thomas exist. I managed to get one through my local library. I enjoyed his essays on art. But at the risk of being an ass myself, art is personal for me. I am not interested in defining art as an expression of divinity. For me a pot just doesn't represent that much. Maybe it's why I consider my pots craft, not art. Anyway, Brother Thomas' essays aside getting the book was worth it for one picture. One glorious picture that said more to me than any of his essays did. It was a picture in a series of Brother Thomas glazing a pot, he was spraying the pot but in a single picture in the series he had stopped spraying and was sprinkling a dry powder on the pot.

So what does that picture of Brother Thomas sprinkling a dry powder on a freshly glazed pot tell me? It tells me the super delicious accents that Brother Thomas lavished on his beautiful temmoku pots were not oxide wash accents. They were something dry - could be a number of things; rutile, straight iron oxide, bone ash, a borate compound. Not sure. But I know I now have a new tool in my toolbox - dry application of accents. A lot of folks do this with wood ash. But my wood ash doesn't melt at cone 6 so I had given that up. Time to dust off the technique and see what I can achieve with various chemicals.

Looking into Chun Wen Wang's work has been more detective work. There are no books about Wang. There is one - count 'em one - article about his work in Ceramics Monthly back in 1997. Yeah, I found a copy and bought it. I am obsessed enough to track down a 1997 back issue of Ceramics Monthly. The article gives nothing away. There is a recipe and it was Wang's starting point. Nothing too noteworthy. But there is a lot written that Wang works with a glass-in-glass technique. Using multiple glass making chemicals within a single glaze to create his glazes.

I started researching glass-in-glass. Something (don't recall what) lead me to Nigel Wood's book Chinese Glazes. It seems that this glass-in-glass technique dates back to 9th century China. It is achieved using high phosphorus low alumina glazes. The phosphorus is the secondary glass former. So that's my starting point for this this type of glaze.

My challenge following Wang's path is moving from cone 10 to cone 6. I have no doubt I can do it. The conversion down to cone 6 is just one more step in that journey. My first step will be pulling the ancient Chinese recipes from Wood's book, converting them to cone 6. I will post the converted recipes before I test them.


Brixvold said...

So did you have any luck with his base recipe?

4% EPK
10% bone ash
8% talc
10% iron oxide
20% flint
48% feldspar

allenrichardsceramicarts said...

i belive the secret of the yohen process has far more to do with manganese than anything else cone 6 is a good starting point if you flux with lead bisilicate.