Tag Archives: glaze

Teapots have a special appeal for potters; it’s a challenge to unite all the parts into one harmonious whole. Teapots have just one function to perform – but it’s a demanding one.

And they seem to have personalities.

The teapots we’re making now are very different to our first ones…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2007. Decorated porcelain.

Note that there is colour on the knobs but not the feet of these rather curious beasts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2012. Decorated porcelain.

We made the first generation of these for CAL (Ceramic Art London) and sold them all during the event. The grey / orange colourway became a favourite and the decoration here is intricate but confident. The spout is small and high to leave room for the decoration, without compromising function. The matt (black) details became something of a signature in our work during this period.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013. Plain porcelain.

There is a satisfying contrast here between the crisp precision of the matt colours (foot rings and knob) and the soft fluidity of the glaze wave. In a way, this contrast highlights one of the most appealing aspects of ceramics for me: the control in the making stage and the unpredictability in the kiln. Our porcelain glazes had a fine, ethereal quality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013. Coloured stoneware / porcelain.

We were selected for the British Ceramics Biennial and made this tea set for it. We had been using un-glazed coloured clay for a body of non-functional work and wanted to feed the things we’d learned during that project into our domestic ware. I remember thinking it brought together the best of our skills: James’s making and my design. Its austerity is perhaps a bit out of place for something as homely / bourgeois as a tea set but we have used this teapot’s twin for years and become very fond of it.

stoneware cup and teapot by James and Tilla Waters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015. Decorated stoneware.

This one is something of a hybrid in having the red details (now I’d call it a hang-over) from the porcelain days combined with the more traditional earthy ruggedness of reduction-fired stoneware. The mid-tone of the clay body makes a nice “ground” for bold, tonal decoration – which I was applying entirely in rotation on the wheel – no circles yet!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017. Plain stoneware.

Most of our work at the moment is plain: un-decorated and glazed in a single colour. We have stopped adding coloured details and like the quiet simplicity. This is our celadon glaze. It is fired in reduction and its colour comes from iron oxide. For me it has the right level of character – it is interesting in a subtle way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017. Decorated stoneware.

I’m torn between the calm simplicity of plain work and a deep seated urge to decorate things but I think I’ve reconciled the two pretty well here in this teapot which came out of the kiln a few weeks ago. The decoration is ultra pared-down and I’ve embraced the texture and colour offered by the raw, un-glazed clay body.

This blog post is an adaptation of a series of posts I published on facebook recently.

Thank you for reading and you can see more of our teapots here.

As colours go, yellow is complicated. I’m wary of it in clothing (not very flattering against pale skin) and is probably my least favourite colour for flowers (too brash against green). Yet I like it on walls – it can make a room feel warm and sunny. In the abstract I find it happy and uplifting and it can be lovely on a pot.

There is a long tradition of yellow in ceramics: the Chinese were producing yellow glazes on porcelain in the C16th (low-fired using lead and iron). Although it was rare and reserved for the Emperor.

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A yellow glazed incised dish, China, Ming dynasty.

In the UK, yellow ware or “canaryware” was produced in the early C19th, again low-fired using toxic lead and antimony (and often causing blisters on the fingers of the factory workers who applied it). It is now very popular with collectors in America.

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C19th canaryware mug with lustre decoration

Studio potters today are more likely to take their inspiration from (two of my favourites) the Danish potter Inger Rokkjaer (1934 – 2008) whose clean forms are raku-fired and have a sense of warmth and humanity (below left). Or the seductively modernist work of Lucie Rie (1902 – 1995) who’s uranium oxide yellow glaze is bright yet soft (below right).

 

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During our apprenticeship I remember Rupert saying he wanted to make a buttery yellow glaze, then a few years after we left I saw this image of a tea set and was stunned by its elegance and minimalism.

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A yellow tea set by Rupert Spira

Generally glaze colours today are much safer and easier to achieve thanks to commercially prepared stains, although we still carry out a lot of glaze tests to find the right stain, concentration, opacity, thickness and firing temperature.

yellow test tiles, line blends and test beakers

Yellow glaze test tiles, line blends and test beakers

This is our yellow glaze, which I think is particularly nice on mugs. As one of our Instagram followers said: “a great way to brighten up the morning”. We haven’t made many yet but there are a few available in our shop.

yellow breakfast mug by James and Tilla Waters

Yellow breakfast mug by James and Tilla Waters

new glaze colours

Yellow, white, lilac, tenmoku, celadon and persimmon glazes.

Recently in the workshop I’ve been sniffing out potential recipes for the new stoneware work.

Thinking that the stoneware suits a more traditional, rustic look than our porcelain has lead me to classic glazes like celadon, tenmoku, chun. Even the names are seductive: these glazes have been used and loved so much that they’re not called just black, green, blue. They have places, stories and history associated with them and when traditional thrown forms (as many of ours are) are combined with classic glazes, there is often a sense of “rightness”.

I had a different approach with our old porcelain glazes; they were about the pleasure of colour, usually relying on modern commercially prepared glaze stains for colour rather than metal oxides and combinations of basic raw materials. I suspect that my interest in current trends (I’m loathe to use the word “fashion”) influenced our glaze palette and appealed to our customers accordingly. I have always wanted our work to look contemporary: there are some potters around today who are highly skilful in making traditional pots in traditional ways (wood-fired, ash glazed etc.) but I have no interest in trying to replicate pots seen in museums made in a previous age.

So my challenge is to find glazes which have that quiet rightness; which suit the rustic quality of the clay and our hand-made process and would be at home in a stylish, modern context. This group has the traditional celadon, tenmoku and persimmon glazes alongside lilac and yellow which are a little more bright and clean. It’s important that each glaze is nice on its own and within the group. Not all of these recipes are finalised and in production yet, there’s a bit more fine tuning to be done (and there is a chun in the pipeline) but I think we’re getting close and I like using a bit of old and a bit of new.

We have a small group of stoneware in our online shop and if you’re in London a selection of pieces from the range can also be purchased at The New Craftsmen in Mayfair.

P101000223I’ve been doing lots of glaze tests recently. Partly because I’d always felt that our colours didn’t complement each other well enough to make a coherent range, and partly because we recently reviewed a book called “Developing Glazes” by Greg Daly for Ceramic Review (which will be in the next issue).

I love thinking about colour combinations and am excited about seeing the new glazes on our functional work.

Tilla    May 23rd 2013