In researching Korean Onggi pottery and trying to find technical information about the glazing practices in particular, all I could find was poetic waxing about the process. ‘Natural earth surface materials and decaying organic matter gathered in pools of rainwater is collected and applied to the exterior of the vessels…’ and I thought to myself, “You mean a puddle?!” The idea of ‘puddle glazing’ emerged out of that and has become for me a meaningful and practical source for glaze material. Puddle glazing can expose the unexpected functional potential of what might be considered refuse material, highlight the individuality of a place's nuanced chemical composition, or it may just be an interesting way to go about beginning to developed a glaze.
For my first experiments I gathering mud and water from seven puddles in Alfred, NY, as well as one sample from the Detroit River. I fired them on their own, I fired them having ball milled them and sieved them, and I have chemically analyzed them and reverse engineered those analyses to develop glaze recipes using commonly available glaze materials to chemically replicate them. The chemical replicas were substantially different from the original samples and my hypothesis was that particle size was to blame. By ball milling the original samples for progressively increasing periods of time I was able to achieve a gradient from the original sample to the synthesized replica.
This research has generated a wide variety of functional glazes that have been a personal joy to use, and it has also served as an amazing teaching tool and point of access for individuals to become interested and involved in my practice.
The pots shown in this gallery were the result of my first round of puddle glazing experiments. They were sold in the “Puddle Glaze Pottery Sale” as a fundraiser for The Mobile Anagama on Main St. in Alfred, NY on May 10th, 2014.