Experimenting with colours and patterns

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May 6, 2014

What colours do you like??? Kids have very definite ideas and in this post they are getting to grips with glazing

After a few busy weeks of making pottery it was finally time for another bisque firing. Last night Joanne, Zoe, Paul and Erin came back to do some serious glazing. The brush-on glazes were arranged on the table together with their fired test tiles as well as a selection of paint brushes, sponges and water.

raw glazes vs glazed sample tiles

Raw glazes with sample tiles


Some kids knew exactly what colour they wanted (i.e. blue for Joanne’s dog), others were less decisive. They kept comparing the numbers on the test tiles with the numbers on the glaze containers.

A raw (unfired) glaze is often a totally different colour to when it has been fired… a fact which never ceases to amaze the kids as well as the adults.

Pear before glaze firing

Pear before glaze firing

Pear after glaze firing

Pear after glaze firing

There were lively discussions on colour combinations and it was decided that the lemon yellow would go really well with the orange and the poppy red and when I asked their opinion on how to glaze my monk they reckoned I should go with my initial whim of glazing him blue (in honour of the blue nun).

Erin and I had both made a Lorax a few weeks ago, so we went for the colours of the real thing: lots of oranges, browns and yellows. Afterwards Erin got to work on her biggest piece so far which she was apprehensive to glaze initially. She asked me whether she could paint on a pattern and after a quick sketch on paper she picked a fine paint brush and painted on her leaf design which will then be covered with a transparent glaze… when this glaze goes on there is normally a look of shock on everyone’s face because the transparent glaze covers everything with a white powder and it looks as if the work that’s underneath has been undone. I keep reassuring them that in the glaze firing their designs and colours will reappear (skeptical looks all around!). Paul and Zoe were less methodical. They just kept adding on glazes and kept reminding themselves not to leave any white (unglazed) bits.


Kiln with glaze-fired pieces

Kiln with glaze-fired pieces


In the past these random glaze applications have worked a treat (the only problem is: stunning results like these are hard to replicate). The group which varies in age from 7 to 12 has been coming to pottery classes for the last four months and they get on really well. There’s a little banter and giggling, but mostly they discuss ideas on pottery and glazing and what I find really nice: they help each other. Paint brushes are kept for one particular colour (in order to avoid contamination) and glazes are cleaned off from the bases of pots in order to prevent them from fusing on to the kiln shelves.

As for the blue monk… I still have not glazed him. I should take a leaf out of my students’ book and just go for it…

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