Striped Chip and Dip Bowl

The focus of 2010 was to work out some glaze combinations that would enhance the functional pottery that we love to make.  In order to accomplish that, we made hundreds of small bowls.  (I had been making test tiles but after I had accumulated 2 buckets of unusable tiles, I reconsidered and began testing glazes on small bowls and plates – I am too pragmatic for that sort of waste.)

I used singular glazes and glazes in combinations.  I alternated layering glazes under and over one another.  At first, I tried to keep track of the glazes by writing down the glazes with a description of the pot.  That method worked well until I tested a several glazes in a kiln-full of pots; then it became confusing.  So I began using an under-glaze pencil to number the pots.  (Note: If you use an under-glaze pencil, write on the pot before waxing the bottom.)

After testing a glaze, I spent time considering it – what did it do; did it break; was it responsive to another glaze; is it translucent; what else would look good with it; etc.  One glaze test did not answer all the questions.  But, asking questions inspired more glaze testing – and the next round of testing was focused and purposed.

Detail of Chip and Dip - wax resist

Now, here’s the thing, I had to resist getting sucked into the vortex of testing and trying new glazes.  At some point, I knew I needed to select a few combinations that I liked and begin using them on the pots that I regularly make.  This forced me to refine the glaze combinations and applications.

All of this helped me learn the character of the glazes and continues to help me use the glaze more effectively.  The wrong glaze can ruin a great pot.  So all this to say: select a few glazes that really appeal to you, test them a few times, take notes, ask lots of questions, learn their behavior, and commit to a palette for your pots.