Thursday, September 13, 2012

Seeing Red


In 1992, I started working on developing a copper red glaze that would work consistently in the Alpine updraft gas kiln that we all used at UMASS/Amherst. It had been recently rehabbed by Vince Pitelka, and the kiln was pretty tight. Unfortunately, being an updraft contributed to extremely uneven firings. It was very common to find the pots nearest the bagwall to be under-reduced, or sometimes even oxidized. These two bowls were ones that made it through the firings successfully. The upper image was made from a nice white stoneware I made based on a recipe from Chappell's book. The lower bowl was made from Angela Fina's porcelain recipe.


When I moved to Alfred in 1994, I assumed that I would be doing more copper red glazes. Instead I found myself drawn into ash-glazes and "fake ash" glazes. Something about the rivulet textures and the movement of color was very compelling. As a result, my copper red formulas stayed in the background for quite a while. I came across these bowls today as I was cleaning. Brought back very amusing memories of my first successful firing of an entire load of reds.

5 comments:

cookingwithgas said...

you know I have 3 copper red bowls that I did as a student and I never use them...it was those iron reds and ash that won me over.
There are enough folks here doing all kinds of things with copper reds that just make me want to, never mind.

Linda Starr said...

brash red I do not like, this glaze I do; I once painted a 1970 Chrysler Newport convertible which was originally a burgundy color to a paint color called ruby red mica, that describes your glaze so much better than calling it red.

alexander solla said...

I think you both hit the nail on the head. Copper reds tend to be over the top. They draw a strange sort of attention to themselves. The weird thing is that I had customers who would come in and buy absolutely ANYTHING if it was red. I always wanted the reds to have more character. And Meredith, you are totally right that iron reds have more character. See tomorrow's post! I am going to put up some of my old iron reds. Fun stuff!

littlewrenpottery.co.uk said...

I had a red that was a copper red in a similar deep shade but I found over time the more I used it the less I liked it due to its stability problems. As you say it suffers from temperamental firings, although a nice colour I eventually gave it up!

alexander solla said...

Reds can be so finicky and tempermental. One of the things I never realized was how much the claybody chemistry could effect the final glazed surface. We all assume that any white claybody should show off reds very well. Not so. Turns out that if the body has magnesia in it, which is a pretty common flux (as talc or dolomite)... you end up with very livery red or worse. I also found that titanium could really contaminate my reds. So much to learn, and then what? A red that was wonderful, even, lovely.... meh? Once the chemistry and firing were figured out, there was no great question left for me. Felt very disillusioned.