While looking for a glaze cost savings and going though our glaze raw materials I realized I had a few opportunity areas. I try to review the raw material pricing every six months to keep the prices of my pots at a level for the local area while also maintaining quality. I was taught to hand mix glazes and always have, only buying premixed glazes for special projects in very small amounts. To make it cost effective it is important to have as few raw materials as possible while still maintaining the safety of the finish wares.
The Search For A Glaze
In the past I have seen some glazes have six to eight raw materials. If a pottery were to have five or six glazes each using different materials the cost for maintaining the glaze recipes and raw material storage can rise creating loss in studio space, storage space, and grow into a large financial burden. All of this adds up over time, driving up the cost of the finished product. So I set out to correct some of the issues by looking for a low material glaze that would have a wide firing range.
Since I fire to cone 6/7 in an up draft gas kiln, the top of my kiln is always cooler. I hit a cone 7 on the bottom, cone 6 in the center, and the top a cone 5. With my old glaze I would sometimes loose the top shelf of pots to under-firing. If I fired longer to make the top of the kiln warmer, the temperature on the bottom would over fire and vitrify the pots. That ‘s why I was happy to find the “Blue Dawn ” recipe on the Facebook pottery group.
Janet Holdcraft’s “Blue Dawn
“Blue Dawn”, was created by the late ceramic artist and teacher Janet Holdcraft donated by her friend and colleague artist Jerry C. Williams Sr.., who put the glaze “Blue Dawn” in the public domain. Hearing about Janet from her good friends Jerry Williams and his wife Lea Ann Nall-Williams , I found Janet to be an amazing person who was loved very much by her students and kept very good records of her glaze research. I have included part of the post below:
The blue glaze used on this piece was created by Janet Holdcraft and she loved her bubbles. This is Janet’s recipe we are calling it Janet Holdcraft’s Blue Dawn. Base glaze 2500 is EPK of 500 grams, Flint of 750 grams, and Gerstley Borate of 1250 grams with 5% or 125 grams of Cobalt Carb. She has a whole page of trial and errors and this is the last one on the page with a * and a “YES” we have her book and it is a treasure. Thank you Janet for all the good you did in this world. This is for the last few Good Will Friday’s that I have not posted but the good you showed to me and Jerry will never be forgotten. RIP Lea Ann Nall-Williams. Clay used is 50 pounds of premix with 5 gallons of reclaim and red art added to the mixture there are also other things he adds but trying to get him to measure anything is as impossible as getting Jerry C. Williams Sr. to post of facebook. Posted by Lea Ann Nall-Williams. I use to be there sometimes when she mixed her glazes she was very percise and on a mission.”
After seeing the post I gathered the raw materials and hand mixed a 100 gram batch as a test and gas fired out the glaze in my test kiln. The results for such a simple recipe were quite amazing. I was able to make the full range I needed with zero loss from glaze defects which was a huge relief. I was quick to show Jerry the results and took images off my coffee table. The poor lighting did not do the glaze color justice, but the blue shown through just beautiful enough to cause excitement.
A Janet Holdcraft Tribute
So after I was pleased with the results I decided to try the glaze on a collection of shave bowls I had started. And what better way to create a collection then to have it be a tribute to the person who made it. It was amazing to think about how many artists, teachers, and craftsmen live far beyond their years in the work, research, and contributions they left behind. I am proud to have the opportunity to mix this glaze and I am more than happy to post Janet’s recipe here so others may try it if they wish. Below is the recipe converted to a 100 gram batch:
Janet Holdcraft’s “Blue Dawn”
Gerstley Borate – 50
EPK. – 20
Flint. – 30
*Cobalt. – 5
*Note: As a cost savings it was found that cobalt has the same intensity and look at 2.5 Cobalt
If you have work with these stamps on the bottom, or your citronella lamp has the “Mariposa Pottery” note seen below, then you may have a Janet Holdcraft piece. Thanks very much to Lea Ann Williams for sending in the images.
“Blue Dawn” – A Janet Holdcraft Tribute Collection
Below are some samples of the “Blue Dawn” collection. The works maybe purchased while supplies last at our Creek Road Pottery shop on Etsy
The artist Jerry C. Williams Sr. has inspired me with his work and forced me to think about the bottoms of bowls as a whole new canvas begging to be worked with texture. Jerry’s Native American inspired designs capture the native culture in very unique way. On first seeing Jerry’s work the patterns, textures, and drawings on the bottoms of his bowls made me appreciate all sides of the pots I was making and forced me to think about what other parts of the work I might be missing out on experiencing. You can find Jerry’s ceramic work posted on his page or at the Green Door Art Gallery. I would like to thank Jerry and Lea Ann once again for posting this recipe to the public domain and it was a pleasure to use the glaze and I’m sure many other artists, potteries, and ceramic lovers will enjoy using and seeing the glaze . If you the reader try this recipe please let me know how it turned out by posting a comment here with a link to a sample! I would love to see where this might go!
Jerry and Lea Ann, if you are ever in PA feel free to stop by and I’ll show you my little pottery! Also thanks for the beautiful bowl you sent over to me.
Creek Road Pottery LLC