The systematic method developed by Ian Currie for studying glazes has proven a powerful tool for students of ceramics. The method is outlined in his books "Stoneware Glazes: A Systematic Approach", and "Revealing Glazes - Using the Grid Method" (Bootstrap Press).
The workshop will take participants through the recipe-based grid method as outlined in "Revealing Glazes...". Being a recipe method, it is accessible to all regardless of their understanding of glaze chemistry. At the end of the first day students will have possibly 5 sets of glazes ( about 175 individual glazes) ready for firing, and will understand the method. Where the workshop extends to a second day, the glazes will be fired overnight and participants will be able to see and assess the results and explore possibilities with group discussions. On the second day there are a number of other possible activities including lectures on glaze theory, slide lectures on Japanese pottery including wood firing and pottery in general, and more time to work one to one with students. There may also be time for some more practical work, extending on the results from the first day.
One of the problems with many other approaches to glaze research is a failure to emphasise the vital importance of alumina and silica variations in pinning down specific effects and discovering exciting new glazes. Systematic variation of alumina and silica, along with the fluxes, is central to this method, and is largely responsible for its success. The method is organised so that one is able to separate out the variables and therefore highlight cause and effect. It gives precise control and understanding of things like colour response, maturity, crazing, glaze surface phenomena such as mattness, shininess and orange-peel surface, as well as opalescence, opacity, colour-break phenomena etc. Another feature of the workshop is the use of "mass production" techniques to make and apply glazes quickly, and also cooperative division of labour sharing out the work between groups and sharing the results. A lot will be achieved in a day.
If you are interested in organising a workshop in your area e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Depending on distance and likely expenses, the shortest viable total teaching time is: a day to a week within Australia, and longer overseas. In the U.S. you can tie into one of his regular fall workshops conducted right around the country... organise one for your area if necessary. The U.S. workshops are usually for two days and involve firing and assessing the results.
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