Location: Massey, Manawatu, New Zealand summer 1976.
I was orginising a large Raku session and it was about to begin.
Four buckets of 80:20 glaze(see below) had been prepared, three of them with added stains. People gathered round dabbing and slopping glaze onto their bisque pots. Then it became frenetic...........
"Which glaze shall I use?"
"What colour will that one come out?
"Will it work on my pot?"
'Can I use any of the glazes?"
"Well, which is the best one?"
"What temperature is that glaze for?"
"Can I use two glazes?"
"How long will it take?"
"What shall we do now?"
"Quick!"I said, "Let's put labels on those buckets!"
"What shall we call them?"
"I don't know -just make it up."
"Anything!" I said
"What about fruit names?" said someone who had just finished their lunch.
So the names of four fruits were placed on labels on the four buckets: Apricot, Peach, Orange and Apple. "Apple" was the glaze with no stain, just straight 80 Gerstley Borate, 20 Feldspar.
Thus, in desperation, Apple glaze was born. The labels, magically, stopped all the questions and oneglaze became the now famous 'never-fail" APPLE CRACKLE.
It's not that I really mind the barrage of questions it's just that people always make the assumption that someone can give an answer in fact they assume that there actually is an answer!
There always seems to be desperation to know the end before the beginning.
Merv Smith gave an answer on the breakfast radio this morning .
"because if you have the inclination, you might as well have the time."
"What was the question?"I asked myself.
See what I mean? Even when we are given the answer, we still want to know the question. He didn't put the question until much later in the morning
"Why did they put a clock in the Leaning Tower of Pisa?"
I met someone this summer who said, "You're wrong. AppleCrackle never works for me." Further discussion disclosed that she actually weighed out the two ingredients and unbelievably sieved it as well! I thought that everyone knew that the best results come from four handfuls of Gerstley Borate and one handful of Feldspar, stirred in water to a jelly and daubed on to the pot with a 4 inch house-paint brush.
Not many people know the famous variation where you forget which is which and have four handfuls of Feldspar and one of GB. This is known as Catherine's Mistake and fires to a very, very stony white. Incidentally, Australian Feldspar was the favourite one to use.
The real truth of the matter is that the 80:20 glaze was borrowed from an American ceramics magazine if my memory serves me right. "Beg, borrow or steal" isn't that the principal method of glaze formulation used by potters?
I've been buying books and magazines on pottery for about 17 years and have nearly 10,000 glaze recipes sitting on my bookshelves. Strange that I hardly ever use any of them.
For the last three months I've been looking closely at glazes that are meant to melt and mature at around 1,000°C (cone 02 to 04) with a view to their use in multiple firings. Poring through all my old magazines and books I see raku glazes and earthenware listed regularly. The interesting thing is how often the proportions of 80:20 occur. It seems that the 80% can be virtually any frit or mixture of frits and the 20% be any clay or ceramic material. The 80% makes low temperature glazes 'melt', the 20% gives them 'body'.
So, when borrowing, or stealing, earthenware recipes watch out for Borax Frits, Lead Frits, Gerstley Borate and Lithium. These are the fluxes that add up to 80%