This month we're bringing back one of our most popular glazes of all time, Mint! This light green glaze reminds me of the calm waters of the Caribbean Sea and instantly makes me want to book a trip back to Mexico.
Along the coast of Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Cozumel this palette of pale, watery turquoise and sunlit gold is a way of life. When I designed this month's Limited Edition collection my thoughts drifted back to Mexico with ease. Taking a look through photos of that trip and the visual connections are clear-- powder white sand (porcelain) reflecting a warm prism of sunlight (gold) and the aqua sea (mint glaze) that fades into the horizon.
While this entire collection transports me back to Mexico now, I created this glaze years before I ever took that trip and the glaze was inspired by a distinctly different setting: China in the early 11th century.
As an Art History student I was struck by the beauty of the jade-like glazes that encapsulated Song Dynasty pottery. I was a few years into my ceramics education at the time and my study of the celadon wares from Longquan kiln located in the Zhejiang province took on a new meaning to me. At that point in my education I understood that the color was more than visually compelling, it was chemically fascinating! In order to achieve these translucent, blue-green surfaces the earth mineral used was brick-red iron. This color change captivated me, so I dug into my textbooks to learn more.
Porcelain clay is notably lacking iron, with a white kaolin clay base known for its visual and chemical purity-- that's why porcelain clay is distinctly white. To then cover that glaze in a brick-red iron glaze must have been a bold decision the first time this was done.
I've already hinted at the magic that's about to happen: that iron red doesn't stay that color. Through the reduction of oxygen within the ancient firing atmosphere (burning wood to reduce the oxygen in the kiln) the iron changes from red to icy blue-green! Do you remember those formulas from chemistry class that looked like this?: Fe2O3 → FeO well there's your iron color change in chemical form.
I formulated this glaze as my modern interpretation of historic Celadon glazes. It's an understatement to say that in my little commercial studio here in Greensboro, North Carolina I'm working with a different set of pottery production variables than the Song Dynasty potters.
For one I'm firing in an electric kiln which produces a clean firing process-- there is no carbon or oxygen changing in my kiln's temperature. Instead my electric kilns have air flowing through them the entire time they fire so that color change that happened in the reduction firing doesn't happen in an electric kiln.
If I used that same iron based, brick-red glaze the piece would come out of the kiln that same brick red color. This means I had to formulate my glaze in an entirely different way, completely changing the chemistry and minerals used to produce what looks like the same color. As you can see, I figured it out! Largely thanks to the glaze chemistry research I've done over the years (my favorite resource are here).
When I sat down to create the special release for March I knew I wanted to lean back on my education in glaze chemistry and to share that story with you. I also wanted to share the tropical inspiration behind this month's collection, and why here at the end of winter I'm flipping back through sunset photos of my time in paradise.
The simple fact: I'm tired of being cold. I'm longing for the warm sun-filled days of the spring and my time in Mexico perfectly captures that feeling. March's Limited Edition is all about these same feelings: warmth, springtime, and the aqua waters that hug the Caribbean coast.. and that decorate my plates.
Shop this month's Limited Editions in our in-house formulated Mint glaze.
Here are a few of my personal favorites from the collection: