Title: “I…ebb & flow with how valid and important it is, what I do.“
December 31, 2021 6:15 AM   Subscribe

Please enjoy the work of Lisa Zolandz. Zolandz is a ceramic artist who explores the use of Crystalline and Iridescent Ceramics.

I found Zolandz’s work through looking at the Artist Page of the 2021 Virginia Clay Festival.

Zolandz says, “With my work with the glazes it’s just a continual process of exploration. My background before the arts was in the sciences so I’m really drawn to the chemistry aspect. Especially with a little bit of extra time now I’ve taken apart glazes more and pushed chemistry around to see what else I can find.” (The title comes from this interview as well.)

If you’d like to learn more about the chemistry of pottery and ceramics, check out Phil Berneburg’s Washington Street Studio series on Understanding Pottery on YouTube.
Understanding Pottery: Chemistry for Potters
Understanding Pottery: Glaze Chemistry Part 1 where Berneburg explains the three elements one needs for a glaze (and why): (1) Base - to form the glass of the glaze, (2) Flux - Something to help the glaze melt, (3) Stabilizer - thickens when they glaze melts
(There is a part 2 as well if you want to go deeper!

If you’re intrigued with the Iridescent glaze in particular, you can find a recipe for it created by Alison Thyra Grubb. Grubb’s website. Grubb’s Instagram

Before you go, make sure you stop and check out Zolandz’s Cats and Cups. And if you haven’t gotten your 2022 calendar yet, Zolandz has got you covered
posted by CMcG (16 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Whoops! Did not mean to included “title” in my title :)

I was fascinating by Zolandz’s linking chemistry and pottery/ceramics and then when I dug a bit, I found it’s a huge part of the field. Hope you enjoy!
posted by CMcG at 6:17 AM on December 31, 2021

I’ve been doing ceramics class for a while now, and find the chemistry behind clay and glazes fascinating. While the nature of a school kiln means less opportunity to experiment (only approved and stable glazes are allowed, to lessen the risk of ruining kiln shelves), I’m still constantly discovering exiting new ways to mix glazes. Just started incorporating oxides and washes too, which adds even more range. This was both educational and gave me a few new ideas. Thanks!
posted by gemmy at 6:38 AM on December 31, 2021 [2 favorites]

This is right up my son's alley, thank you!
posted by warriorqueen at 6:41 AM on December 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

The iridescents aren't my particular cup of tea, but man, I would like to own this.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:00 AM on December 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

Amazing, thanks for sharing!
posted by rpfields at 7:13 AM on December 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

Beautiful work, thank you for posting!

I am a glassblower (hard glass, not soft glass like on Blown Away) and the way ceramic glazes change in the kiln during the annealing process is very much like the way borosilicate striking colors behave. They are my favorite to work with because you generally don't know what it will look like when it comes out of the kiln. My very favorite color to work with is called double amber/purple. If stuff like silver crystal growth and the glass matrix sound exciting, this is a great overview of how it works.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 7:27 AM on December 31, 2021 [9 favorites]

What stunning work! Thanks for the introduction to this artist.
posted by merriment at 8:01 AM on December 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

You buried the fucking lede, CMcG. Allow me: CATS AND CUPS.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:29 AM on December 31, 2021 [7 favorites]

Beautiful, thank you!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:40 AM on December 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

The kittens and cups!

Very beautiful work. For more beautiful sparkly pottery: Yolanda Rawlings - www.micaceouspotter.com
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 10:28 AM on December 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

Thanks for bringing us something lovely! And awww, kitties!
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:53 AM on December 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

I’m so glad you commented seanmpuckett! The Cats and Cups is the thing that took Zolandz work from stunning, beautiful, and day-brightening to MUST POST ON METAFILTER, for me.
posted by CMcG at 11:09 AM on December 31, 2021 [2 favorites]

Those are spectacular. And I do love the Cats and Cups.
posted by coppertop at 12:04 PM on December 31, 2021

not nearly enough things in my life are iridescent
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:16 PM on December 31, 2021 [3 favorites]

While the nature of a school kiln means less opportunity to experiment (only approved and stable glazes are allowed, to lessen the risk of ruining kiln shelves)

Wait. There are unstable glazes? What does that mean, and what are the consequences of maybe firing an object with an unstable glaze? Are we talking exploding in the kiln or melting or what--talk to me about the chemistry, I'm fascinated!
posted by sciatrix at 1:27 PM on December 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

There are unstable glazes?

I'm nowhere near advanced enough to make glazes, but generally a stable glaze will be food safe, as it fuses the silica and colorants/minerals in such a way that they stay put on the pot. Unstable glazes are not food safe, as minerals can leach out of them into the drink/food.

Depending on the exact composition of minerals and other materials, glazes can be static or flowing. A static glaze stays exactly where you applied it on the pot, while flowing glazes can move around a lot when fired. If you layer glazes on top of each other, they can chemically blend into each other to create cool new colors or patterns. However, they can also run down off the pot and into the kiln, fusing the pot to the kiln shelf and ruining both. Mixing glazes can also produce a variety of defects (cracking, flaking, crawling*, etc.) that could lead to leaching as well, even if both glazes used separately are food safe.

There are a LOT of rules at my school about glazes, just to be safe and prevent accidents. I have seen glaze explode in the kiln, coating everything with tiny glass shards that have to be vacuumed out. After about 2.5 years, I'm still documenting the various glazes my school provides, and how they behave both separately and when layered, so I can determine exactly how I want to glaze a new piece. The glazes also behave differently in an electric kiln versus a gas kiln (my school fires both), so it's a lot of variables to account for.

*crawling means that the molten glaze pools into islands in some spots to create a patchwork surface of partially glazed areas alternating with bare clay
posted by gemmy at 8:39 PM on December 31, 2021 [4 favorites]

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