Thursday, February 10, 2011

Merry Potter and the Secret of the Lost Amber Celadon

Albany slip, how I miss you!

I have this great recipe out of the Watershed glaze book: the best $25 I ever spent. It goes like this:

Amber Celadon

Albany Slip 35.87
Wollastonite 14.13
EPK 3.26
Gerstley Borate 3.26
Whiting 7.61
Silica 14.13
Custer Spar 21.74

Yellow Ochre 7.61

I looooved this glaze. In its original form, it's a warm buckwheat honey color, breaking to red where extremely thin. The gem jar pictured above is glazed in Amber Celadon, in its original, Albany-slip form. I tried the commonly recommended substitute for Albany slip, Alberta Slip, but the results were disappointing: a perfectly nice olive color (NOT amber) marred by alot of scumming. In truth I have found Alberta to be an inadequate substitute on other occasions as well. It appears to be noticeably more refractory than Albany, and often creates glazes that, while nice enough, are quite different than the ones they are meant to duplicate. So, boo, too-bad-so-sad, no amber celadon for Lori, right?

Not so fast!

My husband the genius had a typically briliant idea. We live in Maine, where we are surrounded by marine clay. It's an fine-particled earthenware, not great as a body clay, although some potters use it. (Doug and I memorably spent our camping honeymoon building tiny, duelling kilns out of available materials -- sand, rocks, stick, clay -- to fire a few pinch pots and figurines we'd made from it.) By itself it makes an extremely runny (at ▴10) slip glaze, dark brown. We decided to try it as a substitute for Albany slip.

Now here's where I run into trouble. We made two versions, the first a one-for-one substitution, the second leaving out the yellow ochre. One of them was exactly perfect, the other was nice, no scumming, but olive rather than amber. 

I can't remember for sure which was which. I think the one-for-one was the success, but Doug points out, why would we have tried the second way, if the first was perfect? (Answer: because he is always trying things just for the hell of it. Not that there is anything wrong with that.) Anyway, it's time to find out, once and for all: I have made up a 1000 gram batch of Amber Celadon, using dried & pulverized local clay as a direct substitute for Albany slip clay. If this works, I can see using local clay as a substitute in many recipes; Albany slip problem solved! it's a bit of a hassle, of course, to go collect it, slake it, strain out all the little rocks and sticks and insect bits, then dry and pulverize it; but worth every step if I can regain that yummy look. 

Will let you know after Sunday's firing how this works out. 


Sue Pariseau Pottery said...

Love the old amber celadons made with Albany slip and I too have been disapponted with Alberta as a substitute. It will be interesting to hear how your test batch turns out. Good luck.

Jean Ann said...

Lovely glaze and pot. Down Ohio way there is a place that sells their local clay all ready to use. Good stuff you might like to look at

Anonymous said...

I stumbled across your blog while I was looking for a true Albany slip glaze recipe. I acquired a bag of Albany slip and was looking for something to do with it...question, what cone did you fire the Amber glaze at?

Lori Watts said...

This is nominally a Cone 10 recipe, but it will do okay at Cone 9.

smastca said...

Hi Lori - I love the look of this glaze. How did your experiment work out?
I'm currently waiting for a fire with our local clay here in Ontario. Love love love experimenting with glaze!

Lori Watts said...

Samastca - It looks great! Much m ore like the original than the Alberta Slip version.

Rain Sundberg said...

I have a couple of #50 pound bags of old true albany slip in brown bags. Do you know where I can sell them and how much per pound it is selling for? Thanks for any information.