Colour Schemes

'research into glaze recipes

I wanted to get more of an idea of what I am actually capable of producing through this glazing process, both through my own personal skills and what glazes I can actually produce with the clay I am using and within the time frame that is left. I have found myself being drawn into the use of opposite colours. When first researching into what cancer cells looked like under the microscope I came across one image that I have stuck by since then. Above are drawings of the image. The original image showed the cancer cell’s colours to be vibrant and strong. This is a feature that I would like to keep consistent throughout my work, for two reasons in particular. One of those reasons being that it’s rather spectacular that these colours are what can be seen under the microscope, and being so colourful is not something you would usually associate with something so closely related to agony and pain. This is something that attracted me greatly and is something that I have wanted to keep going throughout my own work. These bright and vibrant colours are strong enough to evoke emotions within the viewer, and colours such as blues, yellows and oranges are usually the ones to bring out positive emotions. So again, combining this with the subject matter is something tricky and individual, and I like it. And finally, I would like to keep some of the original details and features of the original material I had come across within my own work, to remind viewers that this is a real problem and is something that although I may be manipulating to make it own, I do not want it’s purpose to be lost and it’s importance to be forgotten.


Blue is comfortable, cool and clean. It often relates with positive qualities such as strength, wisdom, tranquility and loyalty. Sadness is also described as ‘having the blues’, and is also usually used to represent the male gender.

Colbalt is what usually makes the majority of glazes blue. Colbalt produces blues easily and will create some colours at all temperatures and in most glaze bases. It is a strong colorant and recipes often call for 1% or less. Barium and copper oxide can produce some of the most vibrant and saturated blues but leaching can be a problem in the wrong glaze (always test beforehand). Rutile can produce blues combined with tans, browns and pinks, and results in dynamic, variegated yet runny surfaces. Caledon blues are often created in a reduction atmosphere with the inclusion of small amounts (1-2%)of iron. But artists like Andy Shaw and Bryan Hopkins get lovely light blues by drawing out impurities in the clay.


Yellow can stir varied reactions. It’s the most luminous of all colours. It’s connection with the sun produces a natural warming effect and stands for cheerfulness. Yellow is related with happiness, and yellow roses signify friendship and joy. It is physically the quickest colour of the eye to process, which means it always gets attention. It is the easiest colour for many to wear, and people tend to feel unsettled in yellow spaces.

Creating yellows usually include using uranium oxide. this is a popular high temp colourant however it is radioactive. Other oxides include nickel, rutile, chrome, manganese, vanadium, and titanium, all make great yellows and are often used in combination. Many artists use stains to achieve bright yellows, including David Hicks, Matt Wedel, Chandra DeBuse and Taechoon Kim. The brightest possible yellow comes from a stain and is almost in-matchable wth oxide, as they tend to produce ‘earthy’ yellows. The exception to this is the rare earth oxide praseodymium, making a great vibrant yellow.


Orange is often characterised as warm, stimulating and happy. It represents the season of autumn and halloween. Bright orange is sometimes characterised as aggravating due to its jarring intensity. It stands out against many colours, and this is why it’s used for traffic cones, life rafts and so on. Wearing orange will get attention which explains why prison uniforms are sometimes orange.

Creating orange is not easy to create using raw glaze materials. Besides rutile, which can make muted orange in oxidisation, commercial stains and inclusion stains (encapsulated stains) are used. Some glazes that can produce several glazes move into the orange range like shino’s and high-iron glazes such as Kaki that break from black to cream and sometimes orange. The atmospheric kilns such as salt, soda and wood produce bright orange, drawing iron and other impurities from the clay and the slips. Chris Gustins’ work displays some vivid changes with shino in the wood kiln. The use of ferric chloride in low-temperature sagger firing can produce quite a range of oranges as well.


Green is the symbolic colour of the new growth, springtime and nature. It is also associated with harmony, hope and calmness. In western cultures a green shamrock means good luck, and around the world a green traffic light signals safe passage. Historically its had an interesting path. The “green man”, a symbol of fertility and growth, can be traced back to many cultures, but was banned by early Christians for its connection to pagan religions.

Creating green can be achieved with many colourants., including nickel oxide, chromium oxide (Research Clare Hedden) and iron oxide, but copper, especially copper carbonate, is a clear favourite (see Anton Rejinders). Very small amounts of iron oxide in a celadon glaze can create soft light greens (research Jeff Campana) that really show over white porcelains at high temperatures, while a variety of stains have been made to create almost any shade of green imaginable.


These are the colours that are appealing to me most at this current stage in process. I really like the yellow and blue, and orange and blue combinations. I have began to look more into opposite colours and how these can have effect on emotions also. I am now looking into creating some more colour glazes such as green and red, possibly a pink (however I do not want to stray too close to any fleshy colours) and see how these colours develop and how they work with the blues and yellows that I have already created.

opposite colours



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