Beth Coe Maeda

High temperature red glazes
True      Fake

Red tests Red tests

A japanese potter tried all his life to achieve a red glaze, without success. At a certain night, while he watched another firing, sadness took over hs soul. He wrote his sons a letter on which he said goodbye. He didn't want to live anymore, he couldn't take the pain of failure anymore. So he threw himself in the fire. Next morning when the kiln was openned, the ceramic pieces were of an astonishing red. It was found then that tricalcic phosphate (bone ashes) was the key, the missing ingredient for the reds.

In old China, a woman lived of her ceramics. She offered the emperor a beautiful red wine glass, the only one she had been able to make on her entire life. The emperor appreciated the gift and told her to make another one. The artist tried many times to repeat the work and failed. Finally, she threw herself in the oven when the deadline was near. When the oven was openned, a gorgeous piece of a rare red was found. It was found then that the metal accessories she wore, like was later confirmed, gave the piece that color. From this came the use of copper on these glazes.

Apple red, strawberry red, bull red. We, ceramists, are challenged to seek these wonders and their transformations. When we admire a high temperature red we think: what glaze would that be? A magnesium, iron, manganese or copper? At what temperature would it have been fired? What would be the secret? When it comes to reds such occurs to us. Are they really high temperature. Is it possible to achieve them?

Red glazes can produce astonishing surfaces - the vibe and range of tones charm us. They're very sensitive to temperature and quite affected when we change any used prime material. We won't have red glazes if we change this or that.

Today I understand the dificulty with which ancient ceramics was made. Ancient ceramists used a small variety of materials that were available getting perfect combinations. Based on trial and error, they found out wonderful glazes, like they were supposed to be.

When I first started to study red glazes I knew it'd be a long time until I get some results. But even if it took too long, I wouldn't throw myself in the fire, I'd persist. I got to develop over a hundred recipes that could bring me red. To combine varieties of glazes and prime material, they reproduces and breed another hundred. Analysing the rates from the original recipes fired at different temperatures, inserting variations according to surface conseguences, color and melting, I realized that options continued to multiply. To correctly execute this process I selected the clays that gave me the best results, some of them were good. I betted on the conditions that would bring me a deeper color with the best surfaces. In this game, there are already hundred of recipes to be tested. And this way, I do each one of them looking forward to get delicious and attractive red glazes, which I can repeat.
Red tests