Monday, June 3

Titian's Leather Glaze: Mid-Century ceramic style

Perhaps one of the most stylish Titian Studio glazes was what Cameron Brown call his 'Leather Glaze".

Leather is from the same family of wonderful crackle glazes as the Lace Glaze, which was the subject of an earlier post on this blog. However, achieving the leather effect relies on a slightly different relationship between the two layers of glaze and their relative vitrification properties. In the course of the firing, the top matt black layer cures, hardens and shrinks first, while the white layer underneath remains molten, creating continents drifting apart.

The glaze effect is especially arresting when the kiln spirits bless a pot with roughly even overall jagged patination - the result is an object of art guided by man but determined by nature. 

Titian Leather Glaze Sample
This may be ultimately true for all glazes, but I think more so for these difficult textured crackle-type glazes. For example, Titian's marble or woodgrain finishes demand the sustained attention of a skilled human hand to achieve. Leather and lace-glazed pots would have been consigned to Titian's kiln with little more than a muttered prayer for divine favour.

As can be seen in the picture above, the pots could emerge from the kiln with a wide variety of leather crackle effects, ranging from dense to medium to quite sparse. 

There is sophistication to this glaze, which when applied to one of Titian's classical forms, results in an object of real beauty. So much so, that this glaze has just been revived by one of New Zealand's foremost craft potters, John Parker, who seems to favour a relatively sparse leather, or 'black crawled' crackle effect. Some examples can be found here, herehere and here.

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