Art & Science

Van Daalen Teal Microcrystalline Glazed Pitcher (LEO Design)

The glazing of ceramics is both an art and a science—with a heavy emphasis on the latter.  So many factors can affect the outcome of the process: the materials used (and their quantities), how the glaze is blended, how the glaze is applied (and how thickly), any impurities (intentional or unintentional) in the kiln, the length and temperature of the firing, and the quickness (or slowness) of the cooling.  The only way to become a master of glazing—developing beautiful new glazes and (just as importantly) being able to repeat the process—one must keep experimenting and experimenting and experimenting, tediously keeping precise notes of every measurement: material, temperature and time.  Only through trial and error and meticulous methodology, can one reliably reproduce a glaze or glaze effect.  It isn’t easy.  And competitive pottery workshops are very protective of their glaze recipes!

Crystalline glazes can exhibit either micro- or macro-crystals.  The first type has a nearly matte surface with a very soft, light and even sparkle to it.  The second type has larger “growths” of crystals—irregular, uncontrolled and unpredictable.  In both cases, the crystals form when the heated glaze is liquid and moveable upon the surface of the ceramic piece. As the kiln cools, the crystals “freeze” in-place, creating an effect which the artist (scientist) may hope to influence—but can never completely control.

The piece above, made by Van Daalen in Germany in the 1960’s, has a velvety microcrystalline glaze.  One can see a subtle shimmer of reflected light off the otherwise matte-appearing green surface.  Please come into the shop to see it or call us for further information.


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