Sunday, 25 September 2016

The Ferrous Collection

Ever since I started foraging for sand and rocks to use in my pottery, I've become interested in the chemistry of when and how metal melts. If I'd realised earlier that this would be relevant to my interests in life, I probably would have approached high school science in a different way. But it's never too late to learn.

My particular interest right now is iron. Iron has been used for thousands of years by potters. Traditional celadon glazes, used throughout East Asia, are made using a small amount of iron oxide which turns green when fired in a reduction atmosphere. Pottery studios in cities tend to have electric kilns, which produce more uniform glazes, often in bold colours. This means that urban potters who prefer the look of glazes fired in gas or wood burning kilns have to develop little tweaks to make things a bit more interesting.

My first step was mixing my own glazes from the basic stock at my studio. Although I didn't pay attention in science class, I did pay attention in all my art classes so I know how to achieve different colours. Unlike with paint though, this is purely theoretical when working with raw glaze as the colour when it is unfired doesn't look anything like it does when it's fired. 

I managed to get the greens and blues I was looking for after some trial and error. But it seemed like I was still missing something. So I returned to the idea of the foraged materials and thought about how I could achieve something similar that didn't result in a rough texture, particularly on the rim. 

I tested a pot with a light brushing of iron oxide on the rim to see what would happen. I loved the way it melted down into the glaze, adding an extra dimension that took it one step further from the flat, uniform finish that the electric kiln so often produces.

The Ferrous Collection is a range of hand thrown table and kitchenware that incorporates iron in its various forms. Iron rich rock from La Gomera in the Canary Islands is ground down and added as red dust to the clay before throwing. This results in unpredictable iron blooms that only appear when the pot reaches glaze temperature.

For the pots that have iron oxide brushed on the rim, I apply this between glaze dips so it gets really incorporated into the finish rather than just sitting on top. Some other pots have rust I've collected around my studio added when the clay is still wet. My studio is based in an old railway arch and the actual metal arch is constantly shedding rust so I don't have to travel far to do my foraging.

All my work is for sale at my shop. Get in touch if you want to find out the story behind the particular pot you are interested in.  

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