In September, I began a long distance apprenticeship with ceramicist Birdie Boone, made possible through The Studio Potter Grants for Apprenticeship Program. Birdie, a studio potter from Meadowview, Virginia, earned her MFA from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth in 2005 and has been honing her knowledge of glaze science ever since.
Ceramic glazes are made by combining pulverized natural materials (such as quartz and clay) with water. You may apply glaze by dipping, pouring, brushing or spraying. After application, the pot must be fired until a thin coat of glass is formed on the surface. (The test tiles at the top of the page have been dipped in glazes with different colorants but have not been fired yet.) After making my own glazes from recipes over the past eight years, I've learned so much about the materials just by using them, but wanted to take my understanding of glaze chemistry to the next level. I have been performing weekly glaze tests with Birdie that will hopefully advance both of our studio practices. It's the way I like to learn best--hands on. All of the chemistry makes the most sense to me when I can see it in action. Under Birdie's instruction, I've run coaxial and triaxial colorant blends and have tested glazes removing and replacing materials to better understand glaze constituents.
Birdie and I would like to make our results available to the ceramics community, so here are some links and resources. Please check back over the course of the next year for updates. Our apprenticeship continues through August 2023.