Thursday, October 28, 2010

Glaze Safety

Right now I'm itching to make more pots along this line- the fantastic glaze however, is discontinued, it is also not the healthiest of glazes, so I'm a little reluctant to use it- even if I could find more. I love the way that the metallic feels on such an organic form- but I think I'll play around with overglazes and matte surfaces contrasted with high gloss. As soon as the babe is on a little more even keel (the last few weeks of frenzied activity and time away from mama has really messed with her schedule- plus the teeth are still that's fun) I'll start making some pots.

The issue of glaze safety is a big one for me, with young kids around I'd rather not have super toxic materials, as I'm messy, and glaze can sometimes get on clothes which can get touched by N before they get washed., no matter how concious I am of her being around, I feel better knowing that my materials are safe. Unfortunaltly though, there are a lot of potters that don't think of food safety when making their glazes, and on sculptural ware this doesn't really matter, but on food ware it can be very important. I know potters who underfire gloss glazes because they look cool when they're matte, the danger of this is leaching. Leaching happens when acidic things come into contact with the glaze (orange juice, tomato juice, coffee, tea etc. ). Even if your chemicals are 'safe'- calcium, copper, zinc- the idea of leaching is scary to me, not to mention that the more porous a glaze is the more susceptible to staining a piece is- which is not my idea of fun.

So next time you buy a homemade pot- make sure you ask about the glaze- how food safe it, what chemicals go into it, and how high it was fired. Try to stay away from porous looking glazes that are used inside dishes on the surfaces that come into direct contact with food. If there was any stained glass used as a colourant on the peice (melted in the bottom or on top) don't use that pot for eating, as some stained glass colours have lead in them. And if any of your homemade pots stains easily or fades after use, or if they bleed any colour (after filling with clean hot water the water comes away brown) stop using it, because you never know what's in it.

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