A Super Simple Analogy to Help You Understand Glaze Structure

This clip was excerpted from Understanding Glazes, which is available in the Ceramic Arts Daily Shop!

Ceramic glazes consist of three main components: glass formers, fluxes, and refractories. If you can remember those, and familiarize yourself with the characteristics of the common ceramic raw materials, you are in good shape to start developing your own successful glazes.

In this video, I thought I would share John Britt’s simple glaze component analogy. It is a great way to remember how the three glaze components function in a glaze. – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.

To learn more about John Britt or to see more images of his work, please visit www.johnbrittpottery.com.

 **First published in 2013
  • Great information, but as someone who works in film and TV – what was with the repeated shots of just his hands? Very distracting. Made it hard to listen without closing my eyes. No need to try and be “artsy” with an education clip.

  • Judy Miller, you don’t have to learn how to develop a glaze from scratch from the onset. You should start mixing tried-and-true glaze recipes, paying attention to the ingredients. You will learn a great deal that way especially if you start tweaking them and noting the results. Keep notes!

  • Interesting however I am looking for a little more help in this area. I have always bought all my glazes and i am ready to learn to mix my own, however like everything else I have learned I am going to learn on my own. Is there any learning material you could suggest that could help?

  • Kourtney S.

    Great analogy, and I will certainly be sharing that with my students.

    However, the production of the video leaves a lot to be desired. Off center shots without anything happening in the negative space, close ups of hands barely gesturing, and cheesy effects with distracting noises are really distracting. I know we’re not video artists here, but we are visual artists none-the-less, so I would expect we should be able to produce a visually competent video. I know that my students will initially be distracted by the production quality rather than discussing the content, which is unfortunate.

  • Great analogy! I’m sure that all of us who have viewed this will have the image of the car, accelerator, and brake ingrained in our minds. For those who want more complex information – there are always more resources avaialble, but it’s good to start with basic knowledge that is easily understood. I’m sure the book is wonderful.

  • What’s with the HANDS CLOSEUP’s I tried to enjoy the video but the hands close ups are really distracting. It doesn’t add to the production. Fire the Director……..Don’t do this again. PLEASE

  • This explanation was awesome. As clear as glass. Thank you John. I’m in my second year of studying ceramics and it was really helpful. 🙂

  • Cristine B.

    This is hilarious, thank you. Were the hand shots to show us that yes in fact you are married, or just bto show us how expressive your lovely hands are? This makes understanding the basics of glaze beautifully understandable. Thanks

  • PJ M.

    @pfo singer. – he’s on a break from doing seminars and such to do just that- write a ^6 ox book. Not sure when it will come out but he’s working on it.

  • Neala B.

    This is most informative. Would like to see more of this. Mr Britt uses clever analogies to demystify what is in a glaze and why. It is especially helpful to newbies who lack teaching and experience … like me. Thank you for the posting.

  • Philip S.

    Yes, a clever analogy. But I keep wishing Mr. Britt would bring his encyclopedic knowledge of glaze chemistry to cone 6 Oxidation glazes. My guess is that many or most production potters have their own arsenals of tried and true glazes. They may experiment a little, but not so much, once they have found recipes that are dependably consistent. They lack the time and economic incentive to experiment.

    Those of us with home studios, or those working in shared community studios, are more likely to use smaller oxidation kilns, and more likely to fire to mid-ranges, for lots of reasons. Mixing glazes is interesting and highly rewarding, but it can be forbidding to the uninitiated, and John Britt’s clarity and expertise would be enormously helpful.

  • Patti C.

    Not too simplistic for some of us! I would like more details but I suppose I need to buy the book for that 🙂

  • Gail J.

    THAT’S just the kind of explanation needed by those of us who slept through Chemistry class. Thanks so much.


  • Sandy B.

    That was really helpful to hear glaze chemistry explained in an analagy that is simple to understand!

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