A Plethora of Purple: Glaze Recipes for Earthenware, Stoneware and Porcelain

Several Great Glaze Recipes for Purple Glazes

purple glazed test pots

Purple is one of my favorite colors. From pale lavender to deep eggplant there are so many gorgeous purple hues. Yet, browsing through the Ceramic Arts Network archives, I noticed that we don’t have a whole lot of purple glaze recipes posted. Well, today I am going to remedy that situation.

In this post, an excerpt from Linda Bloomfield’s Colour in Glazes, I am presenting a plethora of purple glazes–from low fire earthenware recipes to mid-range and high fire stoneware and porcelain, there should be something for everyone interested in making some purple pottery! – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.

Purple can be made by adding a small amount of cobalt to a chrome-pink tin glaze, or by adding manganese and cobalt to an alkaline glaze. Cobalt turns lavender-blue in magnesium glazes (containing talc or dolomite), and an intense purple-blue can be obtained in high-cobalt barium matte glazes. Purple can also be obtained from copper oxide in barium matte earthenware glazes. Manganese dioxide will produce plum purples, particularly with cobalt in high-alkaline, low-alumina glazes. Neodymium oxide produces a pale violet in alkaline glazes, particularly those containing barium or lithium, which increase the solubility of the neodymium. Nickel gives dark aubergine purple in barium glazes. If cobalt or rutile is added to a copper red glaze, purple can be obtained in reduction.

15 Low-Fire Glaze Recipes

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Purple Glaze Recipes – Cone 04 Earthenware (above)

Purple Glaze Recipes – Cone 8 – 9 Stoneware (above)

Purple Glaze Recipes – Cone 6 – 8 Porcelain, Oxidation (below)

Linda Bloomfield studied engineering at Warwick University, with a year at MIT during her PhD studies. She spent a year in Tsukuba, Japan, working for NEC (Nippon Electric Company) and returned to London to work as a researcher at Imperial College. She started her pottery career while living in California, and became familiar with US potters’ materials. She now lives in London, where she makes porcelain tableware and writes pottery books.

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**First published in 2015.
  • Kate A.

    I am finding the responses to questions just as useful as the post! Thanks everyone!

  • To Nicki Green:
    I believe you will have much better results if you use FAR less cobalt in your mix. It can overpower the manganese. My ratio is closer to 10-MnO2 to 1-CoCO3 or even less. And if you are using cobalt oxide, it is even more powerful than the carbonate, so 15-MnO2 to 1-CoO would be closer to a successful ratio. I hope this helps.

  • nicki g.

    Hi All! Love this post! Purple is totally my power color! I’m trying to find a good oxide combo to use in majolica that gives me a deep blue-y purple, a lot of these recipe results look great, but when I try the colorants as is, the cobalt seems to overpower everything. I’ve been mostly trying manganese and cobalt (oxide) together in different ratios (3:1, 4:1, 5:1) and I’m still getting blue blue blue. Any recommendations? Red Iron Oxide maybe? I’m not sure. I’m trying to do something similar to blue and white (but purple and white), just looking for a good deep purple to use on everything. Thanks!

  • Subscriber T.

    Try Ferro 3124, 3134, 3195 or colemanite. I used a standard English calcium borate grit.
    Which calcium borate frit for the earthenware formula?

    First, all the common frits are formulated to melt at cone 06. They stopped mining Colemanite years ago, and a more purified form called Gerstley Borate replaced it. It is a strong melter. Im not sure if Gerstley Borate is still available either. But I believe, like Albany Slip, there is a substitute. If you aren’t getting enough melt with frit alone, try adding some Colmanite substitute as part of the frit portion. The other reason,besides melting power, Colemanite was popular was its impurities. The traces of other elements added depth to the glaze giving them more character.
    At one time I was interested in majolica overglaze painted effects. I found 3195 with blue stains oroduced better blues than 3124. However, I used 3124 for chrome pinks and reds because of the calcium (and added a bit of whiting). Maybe a mix of the 2? I haven’t done much with 3134.
    Realize that producing purples can be very frustrating. These glazes can be quite sensitive to all sorts of things which affect the color. Even the thickness of application can produce quite different results.

  • To Viv King:
    Sorry for this LATE comment, but I only now just read the article. Of course you can use any clay body you want. The drawback is that these glazes are considerably translucent. Therefore the color of the underlying clay shows through. Having a white or off-white “background” allows the true color of the glaze to show. But when using a red or other darker clay, the purple glaze would be darkened. Its own color would be masked by the clay under it. The result would not look like these photos at all–it would be much darker.

  • Hi
    I have the same problem as Emily. I can’t find a glaze recipe for a good aubergine/eggplant purple for stoneware fired to 1200 oxidation. I don’t want to use porcelain or earthenware. Surely someone out there has used this claybody with good results. I would so appreciate it if you would share your knowledge. I am a newbie from South Africa and there is so little here- our clay in the area is stoneware.
    we don’t have Gerstley borate which is often mentioned in recipes. Even our suppliers wont give us the actual formulas they use in their mixes so it is quite difficult getting info. I bought a potash feldspar- is this the right thing for getting purple or should I be using a soda feldspar. Sorry for the ignorance. I have only just started on this fascination journey!!

  • Lynn S.

    I’m having fun with the recipes in the book but would love to know the recipes used by Richard Baxter for the purple porcelain bowl on page 72. Is there any chance of getting hold of these? Thanks.

  • Could anyone please help me a achieve a warm purple flo glaze..could flo blue be adapted by adding more RIO?…I am currently low on manganese which might have worked, but is there any other choice in place of manganese?

  • Genevieve N.

    Could you please give the recipe for the beautiful dark purple matt glaze show on the example photo ? It does not seem to appear in the test pieces shown afterwards. The one on the close up photo, layered above what looks like a floating blue ?

  • While I am at it, I am looking for a good plum glaze with runny streaks (maybe from rutile) at cone 10 oxidation. The reds from spectrum produce corals to orange rather than red. It has been a while since I have tested for a glaze and maybe other coloring agent-combinations have come about in the last 15 years that I don’t know about.

  • I also get a pretty good purple at stoneware temp by using the purple mason stain at about 8% in a simple white base using zircopax as the opacifier. I get a lavender using another Mason which is supposed to be blue. If anyone is interested I can get those stain numbers for you as I am out at work at a job at the moment. Both of these glazes are nice with red brush or dots and with sprinkles of glass frit on flat areas so that the glass pools.

  • Subscriber T.

    The ingredients after the + are very important as they add the color. Without them the glaze would be transparent or translucent and colorless. The other ingredients add up to 100 and make up a shiny or matt glaze, known as a ‘base glaze’. When a potter finds a base glaze they like, then they can start adding colors. Many potters use just one or two base glazes which they vary by adding different coloring oxides (these are the oxides of cobalt, copper, chromium, iron, manganese, nickel and vanadium).

  • Brandon F.

    Quick question for you all:
    What is the purpose of the ingredients after the + ? Why is it not just added into the total calculation? Also, does this make it optional or still necessary?
    Thanks, looking forward to finding this out.

  • Subscriber T.

    The runny porcelain glazes might work at cone 5 -or you could try adding the same colouring oxides to your own cone 5 glaze recipes

  • Subscriber T.

    The image is Louisa Taylor’s work. She uses two glazes, a purple made with red stain and a little cobalt carbonate overlapped with a rutile-based chun glaze (also known as floating blue) and fired to cone 8 in oxidation. Her recipes were published in Ceramic Review magazine issue 237 May/June 2009

  • Teresita C.

    Hello I love the glaze in the image number 2.Is it one of the recepies. Is it in oxidation? Your work is great!

  • Subscriber T.

    It is the same as silica. In England it is usual to distinguish between quartz and flint, both of which are forms of silica and don’t affect the colour of the glaze.

  • I see that Quartz is common to all these recipes. What is it about the Quartz that makes it essential for purple? Thanks so much for posting this.

  • Subscriber T.

    Do you mean chun blue glazes with added copper fired in reduction? No these test tiles are mostly fired in oxidation.

  • Laurie S.

    Are any of these Cone 6 oxidation glazes at all similar to the Chinese glazes that have the flow of blue/purple? It didn’t look that way in the test tiles…

  • What about glaze recipes for stoneware fired to cone 6 oxidation? That’s a pretty common temperature, yet your oxidation glazes are all either low fire or cone 8 or above. I have no desire to change my clay body (cone 6) nor my other recipes just so I can get a purple.

  • Subscriber T.

    English calcium borate frit is very similar to colemanite. The frit formula is CaO 1.0 B2O3 1.5 SiO2 0.6

    Linda Bloomfield

  • Geoffrey M.

    If you want a shiny glaze, try Ferro 3134. You may need to adjust the soda spar and clay since 3134 has no alumina and a lot of sodium in it. If you want a more matte glaze, 3124 or 3195 will work well since they have a significant amount of alumina in them (3195 having the most).

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