“The humblest tasks get beautified if loving hands do them.”
–Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
I just finished glazing 160 test tiles. I got into this mess because I had no clear system to help me identify the glazes I wanted to use.
So, I decided to be organized, and set about the process of making test tiles.
First, I cut out the tiles with a 3” square cookie cutter. On the front, I stamped a textured pattern on half of each tile so I could see how the glaze flowed into ridges and crevices. On the back of each tile, I used alphabet stamps to spell out the brand name, color, and cone firing temperature of the glaze. Then, I bisque fired the tiles.
Some of my glazes are older than others, and in many cases, time is not a friend. Reconstituting rock hard glazes is not always possible, even with my trusty hand blender. A few of the glazes were so far gone, I ditched them. I renewed some with a dollop of gum arabic to help them adhere better (gum arabic breaks down over time). A pinch of epsom salts to helped others stay suspended in water.
Making and glazing test tiles is not the most creative endeavor, but there is something meditative about it. Glazing, with the focus and attention to detail that it requires, acts as an unconscious process of settling out or sorting through. My mind clears for the next round of work.
And when the test tiles are complete, I’ll be able to make better creative choices about the glazes I use.