[Clayart] being a chemist

mel jacobson melpots at mail.com
Sun Jan 19 09:36:13 EST 2020

most of us on this list are potters, or at least
clay workers.

there is a great deal to learn, and know. it is the joy of
being a clay worker, your learning never stops.

with the advent of computer programming, the ability to
make glaze and having the needed help is wonderful. but...don't lose
site of your goal. we are clay workers..potters. not research chemists.

it can be easy to get carried away. soon you have to wear of white lab
coat to make glaze, or like the fools that wear japanese cloths in their
studios...`hey pal, the clothes do not make the pots`.

i have been blessed, along with clayart to have ron roy and joe koons as
friends and co-workers.  when i struggled, they came and got me going again.
nils lou was a very knowledgeable fellow with technology.

in many ways, having help with the chemistry and glaze making, allowed me
to concentrate on kilns, plans and ideas. that led to my (our) book on kiln
construction. you just cannot do it all with expert skill.

i preach with a tent ministers zeal to learn, understand and work with all
the phases of ceramics. learn what you can...just don't buy ready made in a
jar. or have your entire pottery delivered in boxes.

we have been blessed on clayart to have such fine glaze experts like ron, bill schran
with cystals, hank murrow and and of course carol marians..and a dozen other experts to guide us. but, do not be intimidated
with a sense that you have `no answers`...you feel like a first grader. if that happens, then
what we are doing is a negative. you do not have to have a masters degree in chem to make
pots. and reading a book full of recipes is not mastering glaze. you have to know the how and
why...as ron and john have done for us for years.  one of my fondest memories is having malcom davis
give us 39 shino recipes and to learn they were almost all the same. basically two chemical
formulas, with 37 names...soda ash, firing technique, layers and reduction made all the difference.
that is called `technique` with the recipe. and, the KILN as a rather full story to tell us about glaze.
chemistry is the first step to glaze...the final word is the kiln, the temperature and the atmosphere.
that is when the cream rises to the top.

those that have advanced degrees in science are here to help us, guide us through what is
necessary to be a fine producer of well glazed pots. i admire them, and thank them..but as
i say...`they may not want to get into the arena of design or painting. there are world class
designers on this list that are artists, not science majors`. that expertise is admired too.

so, just a reminder if you feel left out not knowing what is going on with titanium, does not
mean you are stupid.

website: www.melpots.com

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