Metallic glazes can most easily be produced in oxidation by mixing a very high percentage of manganese dioxide with a low melting frit. The metallic visual effect is modified by the degree of melting of the glaze, the saturation of metallic oxides in the recipe and the amount of crystallization that occurs during cooling in the kiln. Manganese is an active melter, so 50% of it and a borax frit will produce a very fluid glaze (glassy, iridescent) at cone 6. Other metal oxides like copper and cobalt are also active fluxes and melt even better than manganese, but they are prone to forming crystals during cooling (the micro-crystals of copper completely matte the surface). It can thus be beneficial to incorporate some copper or cobalt with the manganese in the recipe to promote the desired amount of crystallization. The proportion of frit to color can be varied to produce a wide range of metallic surfaces. The amount of crystallization that occurs can also be controlled by choosing frits with varying levels of Al2O3 (higher levels will impede crystal growth). Their development can also be encouraged by adding a catalyst (e.g. barium carbonate)
How do metal oxides compare in their degrees of melting?
Metallic oxides with 50% Ferro frit 3134 in crucibles at cone 6ox. Chrome and rutile have not melted, copper and cobalt are extremely active melters. Cobalt and copper have crystallized during cooling, manganese has formed an iridescent glass.
A metallic, silky crystal black glaze based on Alberta Slip
This is a 50:50 mix of calcine and raw Alberta Slip plus 5 parts Mason 6600 black stain, 5 Mason 6666 black and 7 iron.
Metallic deep purple: Pure Alberta Slip at cone 10R, then refired at cone 6 oxidation
A nice thing about this is that the percentage of metallic oxide is comparatively low compared to other metallic glazes. And, it is iron oxide, which is not toxic at all.
The multitude of things iron oxide can do in reduction
Iron oxide is an amazing glaze addition in reduction. It produces celadons at low percentages, then progresses to a clear amber glass by 5%, then to an opaque brown at 7%, a tenmoku by 9% and finally metallic crystalline with increasingly large crystals past 13%. These samples were cooled naturally in a large reduction kiln, the crystallization mechanism would be much heavier if it were cooled more slowly.
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