Making our own glaze

Hello! I’m new to the ceramics space at DMS ( excited to start making pottery here <3 ) , so this might be something that has already been discussed, but I’m curious as to why we don’t make our own glazes. Most other pottery studios I’ve been to have bucket glazes that they mix by buying the ingredients dry. This ends up saving money since they’re not paying for water weight. Mixing our own glazes would mean that we don’t have the variety that we get with the bottles, but it might make sense to make our clear glaze since I’m sure we run through bottles of that. I’m curious what others think!

We actually have a bucket of clear glaze.

Oh lol nevermind - I thought the only glazes were the ones in the bottle on the wall

Part of the issue is that not everyone likes the same types of glazes so people usually end up buying/making their own, so we only make the clear glaze in house. The other thing is that we are a volunteer run studio so managing a stock of ingredients and making sure they are not contaminated is a bit of a challenge.

However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t interest in making glaze. Last month Liam taught a class on Gloop Glaze that was very popular: Events |Dallas Makerspace Calendar

If you would like to see more classes like this or have ideas on how to make custom glazes more readily available for the space feel free to come to the next ceramics committee meeting tomorrow
https://calendar.dallasmakerspace.org/events/view/22191

3 Likes

I think space to store the chemicals and health issues would also be a consideration in an open warehouse space. Every studio I have been a member of that mixed their own glazed had a room that the door could be closed. People would need to wear a respirator to not breathe in floating dust. A respirator while throwing would not be comfortable. How far in an open werehouse would chemical dust float?

3 Likes

I toured the Milwaukee makerspace a few months ago. They have a really well organized ceramics area and mix glazes inhouse. If we need info I have a good contact up there. They are bigger by floor space, smaller with 600 members, cheaper at $40/month.

4 Likes

But the big question is – did they have a dedicated glaze room? How did they handle mixing glaze? Silica can cause silicosis*. Many of the chemicals/elements that are used for coloring are toxic. Somebody would have to give up floor space for Ceramics to have such a space.

*It’s a long-term industrial disease. Still, in a big open space, you have no idea whether everyone currently has good lungs.

4 Likes

I looooove dipping glazes. I have a more consistent finish than when I brush on a glaze.

When I took classes at Northlake, they mix their own dipping glazes and had a room they could close when necessary, during mixing. Generally, the teacher assistants mixed the glazes, mainly when no classes. Students did also create their own.

I think in the space we have at DMS, the chances of contamination of dips would be very high. I would love if we could find a way to make that work, because it would be VERY cost effective.

1 Like

These are photos from Milwaukee makerspace




2 Likes

This sounds great, in theory, but regarding implementing it I have concerns. Even if we had a secure storage area with appropriate ventilation (which we don’t), I do not think we could do this with our current volunteer base and still be able to keep everyone safe.

The Milwaukee space has 600 members. I could arrange a call with their chairperson.

1 Like

I agree with Sherry, right now we just don’t have enough volunteers in relation to members to safely manage making glaze from scratch at the space.
However, that dipping bucket storage system is very interesting, and maybe it is an improvement we could consider for our space. Maybe we would start off with just 4 buckets (Clear + 3 others), and make the glaze off site the same way we do for our clear glaze right now.
@Sperry8520 I know at the committee meeting you mentioned improving the table storage, maybe this is worth looking into?

1 Like

Randy. You’re talking apples and oranges here. We’re basically jam-packed into the area we’ve got. We’d have to give up something to get this. Mixing glazes in-house requires a dedicated room.

One of the reasons that I’m at the Makerspace and not Northlake is that they didn’t have work access for students. You got your class time, and if there wasn’t an instructor there, you didn’t get in. That’s one way that colleges have half a chance of keeping their dip glazes uncontaminated. Doesn’t always work. Chris Cooper said that somebody had managed to contaminate the white glaze at Brookhaven so that it was speckled.

I don’t remember any glaze contamination at NMSU, which was wide open for access, but we also weren’t open to random-ish community people. You were in college, or you weren’t there. So maybe we weren’t supervised (much) but we may have been better trained.

2 Likes

I agree I would love for the space to have a glaze lab and for us to be able to make our own glazes. I would be okay to just have a nice selection of dipping glazes available.

There is all sorts of reasons that make it difficult for us to make this happen.

Volunteers: To make the ceramics department work with the current set up we need 114 hours of volunteer time per month. By adding dipping glazes you add more hours. We have trouble getting volunteers to cover the hours we already need.

Cost: homemade glazes can be significantly cheaper than pre-bottled liquid glazes, but so many members use glazes at the space currently and never pay for what they use. This is one of the reasons that we encourage members to use their own glazes. The membership dues did not cover the cost of glaze.

Contamination: There is a risk of glaze contamination if users do not properly clean tools and follow protocols, leading to inconsistent results.

Misuse: Inexperienced users might misuse or improperly mix glazes, affecting the quality and availability of the materials.

Inventory Management: Keeping track of glaze levels and ensuring there is enough supply can be challenging.

Waste: Improper use can lead to significant waste of materials, increasing costs and environmental impact.

Inconsistent Results: Variations in how glazes are applied can lead to inconsistent results, which might be frustrating for users seeking specific outcomes.

Maintenance: Regular maintenance is required to ensure glazes are in good condition, which can be time-consuming for studio volunteers.

Don’t get discouraged with the reasons that I listed or the many others that i did not list.

What we need is a champion to head up this project and make it happen by overcoming all of the approvals and hurdles that are needed. This includes recruiting people to help make this happen.

If you are interested in being this champion let me know and we can discuss the possibility.

I have chosen not to be that champion, so I set up a glaze lab at home. My goal is to have small workshops so members can come out and spend the day making glazes. I’m hoping to be finished setting up by this fall.

Scott Perry
Ceramics Chair

7 Likes

Scott, thank you for your continued efforts to give our ceramics group new and exciting things to learn. Your efforts are appreciated!

3 Likes