If there's one thing that I've learned the hard way, it's the importance of keeping great glaze testing notes. I used to have a 100% let's wing it approach, which resulted in some pretty fantastic glazes... that I could never ever replicate. So that wasn't a winning strategy. And I don't mean I learned this by doing it wrong once. Nope, I had a decade of bad habits, but I've been working hard the past couple of years to write everything down.
It's been challenging to force myself to take better glaze notes, I think primarily because I love the spontaneity of color mixing, it takes me back to my paint and canvas days. But with glaze this just doesn't work. You're dealing with chemistry, and heat, and some pretty misleading buckets of sludgy glaze that look one way before firing and an entirely different way after spending hours in a kiln reaching well over two thousand degrees.
How have I developed a system that works for me? It's as simple as that, I developed a system that works for me. In school I wrote notes on index cards that I filed neatly away. But you know what? I'm not that neat, organized person at the heart of it. I'm messier, wilder, and just kinda all over the place when it comes to creative work. So that system died years ago. Then I moved onto a notebook that I kept in the studio, which was a little better, but still one extra thing to keep up with. Plus finding a pen when I need one in my studio is a little Alanis Morisette-ish in that ironic sorta way. Finally I stumbled upon an Underglaze Pencil that let's me write directly on the back of the bisqueware. This is far simpler, and way more my speed. I keep it on my bisqueware shelf ready to go at any time, and so far I actually keep up with this system. So, if something is not working for you and you've tried doing it all the "right" ways, I'd encourage you to slow down and try to work out what's at the bottom of why that system doesn't work for you.
On Instagram I recently shared a photo of glaze tests I'd produced in search of the perfect blue-green. I'm really pleased with a lot of these tests but the problem is that I need to find a blue-green that stands out from my Aegean and Navy blue glazes, that isn't too grass-green, that works with gold, and that still complements the entire collection.
Thankfully my glaze note taking has improved and I'm reviewing old tests for help in formulating a this new green glaze, that's where those tile shaped tests come in (my new tests are done on the little dishes). You can follow along on Instagram where I'll be sharing updates on this process until I hit that perfect hue.
I'd love to know: Which one of these glazes is your favorite so far? Leave a comment below!