When considering my options for the May low-fire glaze of the month, I decided to seek opinions beyond my own, so I asked a good friend “What are your top three favourite low-fire glazes?”
“Old Copper with one coat, Old Copper with two coats and Old Copper with three coats,” he said, “because they are different glazes that way.”  I raised an eyebrow and carefully considered his assessment.  After some deliberation, I interpreted his comment as more of a challenge than counsel.  At that point, it was really a foregone conclusion that I would  put his assertions to the test.

913 Old Copper

A rather unassuming little glaze chip, Old Copper appears to be a simple yet appealing matte green glaze.  However, in addition to its multiple personality disorder induced by varying thickness of application, it is a must-have layering glaze.  Many years ago, when Spectrum first introduced its low-stone glazes, the layered bells that they sent us included several examples utilizing Old Copper over or under one of the other (then only 24) 900 series glazes.  There are now a total of 63 Spectrum Low Stone Glazes, if I did my math right, that’s 3906 combinations.  But I started with a few combinations using glazes I already had in my studio.

953 over 913 (left) and 913 over 953 (right)

The most delicious combinations included 953, Espresso.  Once again, I used my dad’s favourite method for test tiles – coils of clay squeezed in his hand then smashed down onto the table to create a stand.  I like to use up my scraps making these (that way I don’t have to wedge anything), so that I always have some laying around.  I glazed two with the Old Copper/Espresso combination both over and under (see the full gallery of all images below to view individual shots and some close -ups.)  And yes, these images should be considered foreshadowing of a future glaze of the month.  In the meantime, drool over the lusciousness of this combination, which yields drastically different results depending on which glaze is on top.

913 over 961 (left) and 961 over 913 (right)

Meanwhile, another favourite glaze of mine and previous Glaze-of-the-Month, Bullfrog green, did not yield such exciting results. While pretty, there just wasn’t much distinctiveness in this pairing.  In fact, I include a picture of the experiment merely to point out that sometimes the results of trying something new are simply bland, and this is why I always say to test something new before putting it on a pot.

902 and 913 over Red Clay

Lastly, I had some 902, Iceberg that i decided to try.  on the piece shown here created from Flint Hills Earthenware Red Clay, I glazed the bottom 2/3 with two coats of Old Copper, then over the top two thirds of the piece I used the Iceberg – 2 coats half-way down and one coat just a bit further.  As you can see, there are 4 distinctly different looks created from just these two glazes – The iceberg alone, the Old Copper alone, and then the one versus two coats of Iceberg over the two coats of Old Copper.

The final experiment with 913 is a return to the original question of glaze thickness….I had to see if I agree that it’s a “different glaze” depending on number of coats.  I tested it on both white and red clay, with one, two, and three coats.  I was actually quite concerned that it would look terrible over red clay.  I was very happy to be incorrect.  I especially liked it with three coats.  So what do you think?  How different do YOU think the glaze is with varying thickness?  You can come to your own conclusion from the pictures in the full gallery below, or pick up a pint of Old Copper and try it yourself.

Lastly, it’s also important to note that Old Copper is extremely reliable and problem free.  Despite some “questionable” application (yeah, i was in a hurry to get my kiln loaded, what else is new), Old Copper not only did a better than average job of concealing my own flaws, it showed absolutely no sign of any glaze defect – a perfect fit for the Flint Hills clay bodies!

Old Copper retail price: $13.50

Bracker’s Special Glaze of the Month price is $10.00