Crystal field theory has long been studied and used to explain gemstone color—specifically to characterize how rubies and emeralds both have chromium impurities, but are so contrasting in appearance. Therein, glazes work effectively the same way as gemstones and allow for inspiration from natural mineral colors, such that we can recreate vibrant color profiles on the ceramic surfaces.
It opened my eyes to the fact that ceramics and chemistry are so closely intertwined and that the elements, which I am learning in chemistry books can be immensely enjoyable when practically applied. It is also crucial to understand ceramics as multidisciplinary practice. As the analytical chemist Paul Bormans argues, the practice of ceramics can be compared to a spider’s web: “Ceramics are materials which can very well be described as the center of the web. The threads of the web are the sciences which study ceramics: geology, archaeology, chemistry, physics, even medical and many other sciences.” To him, ceramics can only be conducted professionally by artists with a genuine interest in natural sciences to grasp the “extensive range of applications and specialties in-between”. I can relate to this very well!
In order to produce truly unique glazes of outstanding quality, it is inevitable to test many combinations, study the fired glaze results and then follow up with even more studio experiments, continuously altering the process in the desired direction. In ceramics we have an abundance of possibilities, the variables are so many that one might never run out of opportunities to develop new work.
In the long term, this additional experience and expertise could help to build a professional practice, independently and with the ideology to make unique ceramics and as a viewer identify them concretely.