When I was but a wee little collector, my mom had a porcelain vase with big circular sand dollar-like things in the glaze. I thought it was so beautiful that even when the top bit broke off, I kept it. I found out later that the glaze is something called “crystalline glaze”, and here’s a description of how it does its thing.
Short version: The glaze has little flecks in it – zinc, I believe – and in the kiln SCIENCE!! happens, and twelve hours later, crystals. Luckily, small pieces of crystalline pottery aren’t that expensive, so I’ve collected seventeen over the years. I’m going to show some of my more special ones.
This is that first one that I mentioned. As you can see, the top bit broke off, but I don’t care. The crystals, they are so large and circular. I display it proudly with all my other pieces.
I believe the glaze was invented in China, so I bought a piece made in China. It’s nothing spectacular, but I felt I should reprezent (gang sign here).
These are my two largest and most expensive pieces. They’re by the same artist, Robert Hessler, who might be the nicest person I have ever met. What a delightful fellow. And he does wonderful work. The tube shaped one is pretty spectacular, the way the colors change from top to bottom. And you can’t really appreciate it from the picture, but the teapot is coppery/shimmery, with blue crystals.
This is my cheapest and crappiest piece that I bought on a street festival in Africa from a German potter. Even though the crystals are not-so-great and the dish isn’t even remotely circular, I liked how it looked like frost on a window looking out on a night sky. This is a perfect example of even if something is not well-made, it can still be evocative to the right person (that would be me).
Sometimes the crystals end with a totally different color at the edge, and I like that look very much. This vase is a good example of that, with the dark edges.
This is an ikebana holder. I bought it because I thought the top looked like creme brulee. I don’t claim to be fancy. Sometimes I buy art because it resembles a favorite food of mine. This is one of those times.
The same artist who made the ikebana holder, Paul Lorber, made the three pieces below. Also a really nice guy. He makes the stripes in the crystals by raising and lowering the temperature of the kiln every fifteen minutes. The last piece there is grainy because he fired it twice and copper started to come to the surface.
And this piece is my newest. I think it might be my new favorite. It’s also by Paul Lorber. He did something different with the temperatures on this one, and I think it’s a different glaze at the top and the bottom. It’s just stellar. I find myself staring at it sometimes, lost in thought.