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 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 4.5”w x 8.75”h.
Please Note: What appear to be white spots on the surface are reflections from photo lighting.
While Ben III was in college in the 1990s, he was introduced to a spraying technique with an air-driven spray gun that some potters use 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. Each pot is unique. As a similar process to Natural Ash Glazes, Ben III frequently places these finishes in the wood kiln to accentuate the colors as well.
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.
Ash glazes allow us to “let the kiln be the paintbrush” by relying on the wood-firing process as the glazing agent. Most pieces dedicated to Ash glazing are placed in the kiln with little to 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. Airborne flakes cling to the exposed areas of the pot and accumulate over time. As the kiln reaches 2300° Fahrenheit, the accumulated ashes begin to melt and form a natural glaze. When the wood-burning kiln is heated to over 2400°, the wood ash liquefies and runs down the side of the pot like honey.
Ash may also be layered over other glazes. For example, when Ben was in college, he was introduced to a spraying technique using an air-driven spray gun that some potters use 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 3 to 4 different colors. A glaze made from ash can be used as a top coat to blend or bleach the underlying colors. Some finishes are a base of an iron yellow with cobalt blue or copper green covering. Other colors of orange to silver can develop from the colors overlapping. No two pieces are exactly alike. Ben frequently places these in the wood kiln to accentuate the colors.
This piece is hand-signed by Ben Owen III with the year made (2022).