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Book Review

Glazes Cone 6
by Michael Bailey

Having recently reviewed another book on cone 6 glazes on this site, it is interesting to have the opportunity to have a look at another publication - albeit quite a different one - on the topic - Glazes Cone 6, by British potter and Bath Potters Supplies partner Michael Bailey.

This publication appears as part of the well known "Ceramics Handbook" series, which covers various topics on ceramics ranging from paperclay to decals to kiln building and more. This series is published in the US by the University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia.

Glazes Cone 6Bailey's book on cone 6 glazes concentrates on this temperature range in oxidation. This has the advantage that anyone with a kiln - gas or electric - can benefit from the knowledge and glazes that this book has to offer. It has the disadvantage of omitting the interesting field of cone 6 reduction glazes. Perhaps a small chapter on this topic could have been included, possibly with some information on artificial reduction glazes with silicon carbide, to the benefit of those with electric kilns.

However the book does deliver handsomely on many other fronts. Included are a number of useful base glazes: transparent, matt, alkaline, crystalline, chun, luster and others. To top it off, there is a chapter on raw glazes. All in all, there are about 40 'base glazes' for which recipes are given. Add to this variations with coloring oxides - mainly iron, cobalt, nickel, manganese and titanium, and we arrive at a huge database of cone 6 glazes.

Backing up this research is a sound theoretical framework, which should help the reader to better understand the scientific and technical issues concerning glazes in general and cone 6 in particular. Covered are: the effects of clay bodies on glazes, the unity formula and percentage analysis, alumina-silica ratios etc. A chapter on Glaze Fit explains coefficients of expansion as well as common glaze defects such as crazing, shivering and dunting and gives advice on alleviating these problems.

An interesting last chapter is the "Gallery", where Bailey offers images and explanations of cone 6 works of about a dozen fellow potters. This is followed by some addresses where we can find helpful info on glazes and related issues on the internet. Topping off this publication is an appendix, which includes 'Analysis of Materials', a glossary, a list of suppliers and a bibliography for those wanting to do further research.

There are compelling arguments for wanting to work in the cone 6 range - stoneware effects can be achieved at a lower, cost-cutting, more environmentally friendly temperature. Wear and tear on kilns is reduced, as are firing times. Glazes Cone 6 adds valuable information to the repository of general knowledge on glazes for this temperature range, while at the same time offering us a gamut of glazes to try out and experiment with. My greatest criticism is that little is said about the important issue of glaze stability and possible leaching of glaze components in functional wares used with food. Readers concerned with this are referred to the book Mastering Cone 6 Glazes, which makes a good companion book to Bailey's Glazes Cone 6.

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