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Copper Red, Sang de Boeuf or OxBlood… What Is It Called???

Copper Red, Sang de Boeuf or OxBlood… What Is It Called???
I suppose I’m a bit obsessed.  I want it!  I NEED it!  I’ve got to have it!
SANG DE BOEUF!  COPPER RED!! I’ve tried and had some good results, but I want MORE!!  See more blog posts I’ve written about copper red glazes by clicking here!  
….but what is it really called???
There are various names for the elusive, glossy red glaze.
Here are the names that refer to the red glaze (that I’ve found so far!):
  • Copper Red
  • Sang de boeuf, which is the French name meaning ‘Ox blood’
  • Lang yao hong (lang yao red), the Chinese name believed to have been named for Lang Tingji, one of the imperial kiln supervisors.
  • Just to confuse things further, sang de boeuf is also called flambé glaze!!!
All in all, it all refers to a glossy, rich, bloodied glaze that can be slashed with streaks of purple or turquoise and is used to decorate pottery, particularly porcelain.  The glaze is described as resembling the floor of a slaughterhouse, crushed strawberries, apple peel or, as it is known in the West, sang de boeuf(French for “oxblood”)”.

EVERYONE has been chasing copper red glazes for a really long time!!

First, it was the Chinese, then the French, then the English….then all the rest of us!!!

The Chinese are always ahead of us.  They may have even discovered (if you can use that word, see article here) America a century before Columbus!!  Such an amazing bunch of people!  If you have visited there, you know what I mean.  The people of China are multitudinous.  They throng, thrive, and bustle.  They have a culture that is far more ancient than anything in the USA or Australia – the two countries in which I have lived.  AND they had this pottery stuff nailed centuries ago!

Sang de boeuf Ming Vases

This article chronicles the history of that gorgeous red glaze we all crave:  Click here.

To give you a short version of the history of sang de boeuf (I really like that name!!), porcelain shows up on the radar during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220) in the city of Jingdezhen, and the city is known to this day as China’s “capital of porcelain”.
After porcelain, “The sang de boeuf glaze first appeared during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644).  The  disappearance of sang de boeuf glazes occurred along with a slowdown in porcelain production during that period’s war-torn later years. When it resurfaced during the ensuing Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), use of the glaze was perfected and some of the finest pieces of sang de boeuf emerged. This was particularly so during the reign of K’ang-hsi (1654-1722), the fourth (and best, some say) emperor of the Qing Dynasty. Examples include vases, bowls, teapots, urns and other vessels. “

EVERYONE recognises the difficulty in achieving this glaze.  “It’s sophisticated and refined, and it’s difficult to achieve,” says Tina McEown, an antiques dealer and collector in the Valley. “It’s fired with no oxygen, which can cause the color to change, and it’s fired many times. It’s not simple.”  The above paragraphs are from this article. 

In Europe, Theodore Deck, the “father” of French ceramics and one-time director of manufacture for the country’s famous Sèvres porcelain factory, was well-known for his sang de boeuf.

William Howson Taylor, co-founder of Ruskin Pottery, is said to have fiercely guarded the production of such pieces and destroyed all of his glaze recipes (can you believe it!!!) before his death.

Work of Willliam Howson Taylor

Ernest Chapelet, a French ceramicist, devoted his later life to producing sang de boeuf.

Ernest Chapelet, French Ceramicist
©Jason Jacques Gallery
Ernest Chapelet’s work 
©Jason Jacques Gallery

Ernest Chapelet’s Work
©Jason Jacques Gallery
In the early part of the 20th century, Bernard Moore, an English potter, (website with information on him) experimented with Chinese glazes and tried to recreate the sang de boeuf glazes..  He produced some successful flambé and sang-de-boeuf glazes on a stoneware body at his small factory in Stoke-upon-Trent. He worked in association with William Burton of Pilkington pottery in Manchester, which made experimental decorative ware of all kinds.

Bernard Moore, Master Potter, A book on Bernard Moore chronicles his life and his pottery.

So why are we still chasing this elusive butterfly of copper red glazes, high fire glazes, porcelain, and pottery in general.  Looks like we would have figured this out to the point that it can be replicated fairly easily.  But with recipes being destroyed and history repeating itself, there are a bunch of us out there with our butterfly nets chasing copper red!!!
Keep the faith and keep going for the red!


Written by Marian Williams


  1. Lori Buff · January 28, 2013

    Not only do you have to get a good recipe but the kiln gods need to smile on you too. Copper red needs good reduction, proper kiln placement…it’s a challenge but a worthy challenge.

  2. Brenda · February 3, 2013

    Thanks for the history lesson Marian! Interesting! I know so little about glazes but have heard that red is hard to achieve! How unfortunate when it’s soooo gorgeous! Good luck with finding the perfect glaze!

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