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Kingdom of Pottery Crystals

The crystalline glaze, which in the final product produces a three-dimensional appearance of exploding pansy shapes,

On a bright sunny day looking out across a beautiful shimmering lake, we have an irrepressible attraction to the elegance of dancing light. Crystals grown on the surface of a porcelain clay pot will also transform and replay the radiant light of the sun. These crystals will invoke a desire to deepen the connection with one’s true self.

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Today there are almost no crystal potters left in the world, because the process of coaxing crystals to grow exceeds the exasperation level of even the most dedicated potters and the reason why you may have never seen pottery with these beautiful crystals on them before.

The crystals in the glazes are not hand painted on porcelain, instead they emerge during a several hour firing in the kiln at temperatures around 2000 degrees. The process is as similar, delicate and unpredictable as making snowflakes or the frost on a winter window. Water vapor under exactly the right conditions will become a snow flake, which is a crystal form of water, and likewise, the crystals in the glaze, which are made of zinc and silica will grow on these pots when fired and held at the correct temperature.

Green and Brown Crystal Pottery

Just as no two snowflakes or humans are alike, there are no two crystal pots that are alike either. Each is its own expression of beauty. Snowflakes and humans move on into other forms, but these pots retain their radiance forever.

Working with crystals gives any potter a chance to push the envelope of his or her artistic and technical imagination. If you are looking for a teacher, look no further than the challenge offered by the combination of porcelain and crystal glazes, especially when fired in a gas kiln.

The principles of patience, humility, compassion, and perseverance will be constant companions on your path to creating a piece of pottery with a crystal glaze.

If you are not a potter, buy any piece of pottery you like especially if it has crystal glazes, as it speaks of a potter who was willing to endure the maddening disappointments of endless firings that do not produce the results they are looking for.

The color on the bowl below comes from cobalt.

Blue Crystal Pottery

Crystal glaze recipes only appear very simple, but don't let that fool you. The glazes used for the pottery shown here are composed of three basic ingredients which are frit, zinc oxide and silica with addition of supporting agents like titanium dioxide, lithium carbonate and bentonite. The base glaze is not the whole glaze story, the coloring oxides used will have a profound effect not only on the color, but on the qualities of the firing. Some colorants will not work at the same temperature range as others. Today there are ready made crystal glazes that can be purchased at any pottery or ceramic shop. This eliminates the tedious job of mixing your own.

It is not just the recipe that is the key to crystal glaze success, the firing is most critical, and also the thickness of glaze application, the angle of the glaze on the ware, the type of clay, the temperature at which the green clay was fired, the atmosphere inside the kiln, the top temperature of the firing, and the soak temperature and time.

The crystals below are from nickel oxide.

Crystals in Pottery 4

If you are a potter looking for a quick road to crystal success, you will more than likely frustrate yourself to no end! The best advice is take the slow, persistent and artistic path, and quietly smile when intuitive hunches move you into the crystal kingdom. Be respectful when you are there, arrogance may quickly lead to a kiln full of disappointment and landfill fodder. Precision tools help enormously in tracking this elusive and beautiful glaze.

Porcelain is more expensive than any other clay body and some are several times the price of standard stoneware clay and that could be another reason why crystal pottery is more expensive than regular pottery.

The porcelain pottery is fired to Cone 06. Most kilns today, have the essential feature of a programmable computer to manage the firing. Glazes are applied and the pottery is fired. A gas kiln would allow you to fire either more traditional cone 10 reduction glazes, which produce the copper reds that are awesome and child's play to reproduce or the much more complicated fully oxidation Cone 10 or 11 crystal glazes shown here. Gas kilns are unheard of as a means of firing crystals, but the crystals that emerge from a gas kiln are brighter, cleaner, and sharper than those from most electric kilns.

The pot below derives its color from copper.

Cobalt Crystal Pottery

Art and science walk hand in hand to create the beauty, simplicity, elegance and silence that are created with crystals. Whether you are buying or making a piece of pottery, be assured that there is not going to be another piece like it anywhere. I guess to some people that makes a quite a difference, but to me if I like something, I buy and I could care less if there are hundreds of pieces like it out there somewhere.

Crystalline Glaze

Crystalline glaze, the Chinese call it "firecracker glaze", can be traced back to the Chinese Song Dynasty 960-1279 AD. Although the technique is over a thousand years old, it wasn't until the late 19th century that the glaze was studied and commercially produced. The technique is rarely seen in commercial production today because of its unpredictability, but this elusive glaze remains a fascination of some brave risk taking potters!

In most pottery work, a 5 to10 percent loss can be expected during firing. With crystalline firings, 50 percent can be lost. It is a high fire process, with an eight hour hold time at over 2000 degrees. During that time, if the kiln gods are with you, crystals will form. If the thickness of the glaze is not right, or the temperature is missed by as little as 25 degrees, the result is clear glass!

A number of different materials can be used to form crystals. Most artist use zinc and fire on porcelain clay. Each vase is fired on a handmade pedestal, which is knocked off with a hammer and discarded after firing.

Crystal Pottery Vase Crystal Pottery vase 2

It is hard and tiring work to produce crystalline pieces consistently, but because of the singular beauty the artists find the challenge worth the effort. Below are some more examples of the beauty and one of a kind results that can be had with crystalline glazes.

Crystals in Pottery 1 Crystals in Pottery 2 Crystals in Pottery 3

In time, you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.

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Have you ever come up with a good idea while working with your handmade pottery and thought that you would like to share it with others? You have? Well, why not send it to us and we will add it to the tips page for all to see.

Handmade pottery can be a very gratifying hobby that produces fun and satisfying results. For many people it's an enjoyable release that is created by working an inanimate mound of clay into a beautiful work of art that you made through your artistic abilities.

The best way of starting out is to take a few lessons from Youtube. You will probably waste quite a bit in materials when you first get started. Figuring out how to truly make handmade pottery correctly and shape into what you want it to be can be quite an ordeal. The different tools that a normal shop will have can be fun to try. You will soon see which ones you like to use the most and then when you are ready you will know which ones to buy.

With the help of the internet, you can now purchase most if not all of your ceramic and pottery tools and supplies online. We are located far from any well supplied dealers and yet working with reliable ceramic and pottery suppliers online has allowed us to recieve most of our orders within a timely manner.

When you get all set up, just enjoy the hobby and have fun at it. Some people get pretty serious and start selling their creations at craft fairs and small stores, but others just like to create items for themselves, relatives, and friends. Whichever kind of handmade pottery you desire to endeavor, enjoy the hobby and have fun doing it.

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