A classic egg-shaped vase that has been made for three generations of Ben’s family, and, is one of the most popular forms that Ben Owen III enjoys creating. This form is heavily influenced by the Mei Peng style vases made early in Chinese clay culture. The Copper Penny tones on the surface of this vase are a result of an iron-and-mica-enriched clay body along with the accumulation of ash from a multi-day wood firing. The Natural Ash glaze on this vase was developed during the firing process as the wood ash floated toward the ceiling of the kiln and fell back down onto the hot clay. The wood ash melts as it touches the hot clay body and becomes its own, natural glaze. The Cobalt Blue and Yellow Matte glazes were applied to the piece prior to loading the kiln. Measuring 3.75”w x 6”h.
Please Note: What appear to be white spots on the surface are reflections from photo lighting.
The Natural Ash Glaze is produced by relying on the wood-firing process as the glazing agent. Most pieces dedicated to this glaze are placed in the kiln with little or no glaze applied to the exterior. During the firing process, the wood is stirred occasionally in the firebox to give flight to the flakes of ash that are produced during the firing. When these small flakes become airborne, they cling to the exposed areas of the pots and accumulate over a period of time. As the kiln reaches about 2300 degrees Fahrenheit, the wood ash will liquefy and begin to run down the side of the pots, as if one had poured honey on the vase.
While Ben III was in college in the 1990s, he was introduced to a spraying technique with an air-driven spray gun to build up layers of glazes on the clay surface. With some experimenting, he was able to create a variety of finishes using accents of three or four different colors and using an ash glaze as a top coat to blend or bleach the underlying colors. Some finishes are a base of iron yellow with cobalt blue or copper green covered with orange to silver developing from the overlapping colors. An ash glaze is applied as a final coat to the pot to create a layered effect. Each pot is unique.
The inspiration behind the Yellow Matte Glaze was to create a smooth, “soft” surface on the pots that would be a change from the glossy finishes typical in the Owen family of glazes. From looking at surfaces created during the wood firing process, Ben wanted to recreate a similar surface but with the option to make it uniform or add an accent by spraying on the clay surface. The yellow pigment is made from iron oxide and the matte finish is created from the use of magnesium and strontium in the glaze.
This piece is hand-signed by Ben Owen III with the year made (2022).