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Re: [teacherartexchange] Salt Glaze Pottery

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From: Marvin Bartel (marvinpb_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Fri Jul 27 2007 - 16:22:35 PDT


>I was recently introduced to salt glaze pottery. Does anyone know the process? I have read several web pages but I'm not sure on exactly how you go about this process.
>
>~Michal
 
Salt glazing is probably not suitable for schools. To go about it, you need a hard brick or cast kiln that is fired with gas, wood, oil, etc. (not electric). You also need a remote location where neighbors are not apt to complain about the air pollution you create. Kilns need to be outdoors or very very well vented. People have to stay away from it during the salting.

In salt glazing the glaze is formed in the kiln by putting salt into a kiln that is around cone 10 (2350 F). The salt vaporizes and the soda from the salt helps the silica of the pottery to melt and form glaze. The chlorine vapor (gas) from the salt is a toxic air pollutant and would harmful to breath. Salt vapor ruins electric heating elements and insulation brick used to make electric kilns is quickly ruined. It is also very hard on other firebrick and kilns shelves require a huge amount of cleaning between firings. To avoid the chlorine gas, some potters have switched to using pure soda vapor glazing. The results are a bit different.

Artists are still allowed to practice salt glazing, but commercial salt glazing has been halted already for many years. At one time the sewer tile used in this country was salt glazed. The most well-known common pottery that is salt glazed would probably be traditional German bear steins. A lot of pioneer pottery in this country was slip glazed (glaze made from low fire brown clay) on the inside and salt glazes on the outside. You often see these antique jugs with blue numbers (designating size in gallons) and blue birds and other blue slip decoration on them. Artist do salt glazing for the same reasons they do wood firing. They like the natural effects of ash glazes and salt glazes on the pottery surfaces. Salt glaze often has an orange peel texture.

This site has some antique salt glazed pieces.
http://www.featherandstone.com/stoneware.htm

This page shows some salt glazed German beer steins.
http://www.beerstein.net/articles/s9203.htm

This page shows some work by Don Reitz who is the probably the foremost salt glaze potter today
http://www.mintmuseum.org/exhibit.php?exhibit_id=48

Firing our soda vapor glazing kiln.
http://www.goshen.edu/art/DeptPgs/castable.html

For those who want to try this, look into taking a course at a college that has a salt kiln or maybe a place like Arrowmont in Gatlinburg, TN. would still have a salt kiln that is used during their summer sessions. Many years ago I taught some summer ceramics classes at Arrowmont, and we always had one salt firing at the end of each course. We have built salt kilns, soda kilns, wood kilns, gas kilns, raku kilns, etc. at Goshen College over they years with our students. Many college and universities have done this.

Marvin Bartel
Marvin Bartel, Ed.D., Professor of Art Emeritus
Goshen College, 1700 South Main, Goshen IN 46526
studio phone: 574-533-0171??
http://www.bartelart.com
http://www.goshen.edu/art/ed/art-ed-links.html
"Art is me when I am myself." ... a kindergarten girl when asked, "What is art?"
"You can't never know how to do it before you never did it before." ... a kindergarten boy working with clay for the first time.

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