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Sourced from the local natural environment of the Yorkshire Dales, glaze-making is an exciting, intriguing and sometimes frustrating process! But one that I both love and appreciate. My glazes are inspired by this beautiful and unique landscape, and the natural colours reflect the geology, flora and fauna of the Dales.
I source Greywacke Gritstone dust from our local Dry Rigg Quarry near Horton-in-Ribblesdale. The dust is a waste product from the drilling process and would otherwise be washed away and responsibly disposed of. But for me, the dust makes a perfect and pure glaze. Gritstone has a high silica content, which is what makes up the 'glass' part of a glaze. It also has a balanced amount of alumina, flux and a good bit of iron, which means it produces an excellent glaze on its own, very dark and slightly metallic at times.
All of my wood is locally sourced from a young lad through our church, and the ash is then harvested from our woodburner at home. Ted sources his pine from Ribblehead Forest and Beech from Giggleswick. Occasionally he will find a particularly interesting tree for me... the latest was an old Beech tree felled near Giggleswick Private School! Each wood produces a slightly different colour of glaze, depending on what kind of minerals the tree is picking up from the soil. Wood ash tends to be high in flux, the component that makes the silica melt and creates the 'run' or fluidity in a glaze. Because wood ash is high in flux, a wood ash glaze is characteristically runny, producing beautiful pools of colour where it has collected.
Docks are plentiful... often found along the roadside, footpaths, along dry stone walls. The leaves are used to relieve the sting if you've been bitten by a nettle! For me, they produce a beautiful coppery tone to a glaze, one of my favourite effects when combined with gritstone and wood ash.
I collect iron ochre from a natural spring in sight of Whernside summit... by the bucket! Layered under or over an ash glaze, it produces some stunning results. I also mix iron ochre with a homemade base glaze, producing a warm cream when fired in oxidation or a pale stone grey blue when fired in reduction.
So not nice when you brush up against them, but otherwise I think nettles are brilliant! Really good for you (lots of vitamins), a fantastic remedy for respiratory colds... And as a glaze, they produce a striking moss-green glaze when combined with gritstone and iron ochre or a soft sage green when mixed with my base glaze. Best when collected during the winter though - less stings!
Thistle ash makes a pale honey moss green glaze when combined with gritstone, that sometimes 'bleeds' into other glazes. My favourite combination is when it is mixed with my base glaze and applied to dark clay pots, producing a toasted and speckled finished which goes slightly blue where it has pooled.
Due to their perfectly hollow large stems, folks often think of these as their childhood pea-shooters. In glaze-making, I prefer them when they're dried out and seeded. When combined with the gritstone and iron ochre, common hogweed produces a deeply rich red brown colour.
Rushes are prolific across many fields in the Yorkshire Dales... and a real nuisance to farmers, as they soon crowd out the grasses needed for grazing sheep and cattle. A free natural resource for me, and a bit of a help to some farmer friends in cutting them out of the fields. When fired, however, their ash produces a rich speckled brown colour, brilliant in combination with other materials, or on its own. When mixed with a plain base glaze, rush ash produces a delicate pale purple glaze with brown flecks. I'm still working on perfecting this one though.