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Am I Crazy? Copper Red Glazes Versus Simple Oxidation Glazes

Am I Crazy?  Copper Red Glazes Versus Simple Oxidation Glazes

I find it so interesting what the buying public likes!

instagram, marianwilliamspottery, wooden handle on ceramic spoon, recycled clay

This instagram post got more hits in the first day than I usually get. So is it the instagram crowd that drives the market?

I have tried really hard to master high-fire cone 10 reduction glazes, especially copper reds, chuns, and the old Oriental glazes.

Cone 10 Glaze Firing, Copper Reds

3 Copper Red Glazes + One Blue Glaze.

I’ve also worked really hard to develop a throwing style that is as perfect as I can make.

altered bowl, slip additions, textured stamping,cone 10 reduction glazes

Three cone 10 reduction glazes, slip trailing, altered, carved, stamped bowl.

Here comes the interesting part!

I recently decided to throw a big quantity of reclaimed clay into simple, imperfect functional ware, glazes with a simple white glaze and a clear glaze with some Mason Stains colorants.

recycled clay, wabi sabi pottery, mason stains

These pieces are from recycled clay, wabi sabi throwing, and simple white and clear glazes with Mason stains. Easy peasy!

recycled clay, wabi sabi pottery, mason stains recycled clay, wabi sabi pottery, mason stains

This is something that I can do with my eyes shut…no stress, no big design decisions, no crazy glazes combinations that are difficult to control and the firing is faster as I’m not worried about keeping the kiln in reduction.

So when people raved, loved and bought this more simple version of my pottery, I found it both interesting and frustrating!

It’s the market, what’s in style.

But for me, I find the more difficult, harder to achieve pieces more exciting and fun to make!  But they don’t sell as well!  (sad face).

Copper red and chun glazes

Copper Red and Chun Glazes, Cone 10 Reduction

So, what’s the solution?  I don’t know, but I guess I’ll just do both!  I can’t have recycled clay unless I make the good stuff!  So the cycle of pottery goes.

Let me know what you think!

Keep crazy.  Keep potting.

marian williams pottery


Written by Marian Williams


  1. Karen Jennings · February 4, 2017

    I too could make simple things with my eyes closed. If I had to do it to support myself, I would.
    But , it would bore me to death and I don’t have too. Just cause it sells doesn’t mean it’s good either. !! The general public has not much idea about ceramics, so I guess it’s our job to educate them, while not putting down those who try to Make a living from it the best way they know how😀

    • Marian Williams · February 5, 2017

      Hey, Karen, I totally agree and thank goodness pottery is not my only source of income – I’d be on the streets and hungry if it were!
      Guess we just try to be inspired in making our art – and, therein, I think lies the difference. I consider what I do as “art”, not just a pottery piece. I’m not trying to discourage, disparage or dismiss all of those that are making the “wabi sabi” pottery. On the other hand, I’m just amazed at my lack of marketing expertise!

  2. Desiree · February 4, 2017

    I think you could be right about Instagram driving the market. Keep making what you love cause a trend is just a trend.

    • Marian Williams · February 5, 2017

      I think so too- Instagram is full of lots of white backgrounds with lovely food photos! Yes, loving what one is making is the only way to go!

  3. Caroline · February 5, 2017

    I love both and I’m a buyer as well as an amateur potter. I love throwing with smooth clay though, so I have yet to throw with anything so recycled that it produces the lovely speckles. My teacher says I wouldn’t like the feel when throwing and I’m sure she is right about that but I do admire the speckles.
    We have had many a discussion at our pottery club about how buyers often choose the imperfect bowl sitting right next to the perfect bowl. Perhaps because it is so individual? We are not sure.

    • Marian Williams · February 5, 2017

      Hey, Caroline,
      Isn’t it the truth! That crazy, ugly bowl that just sold….! I love both too, but I’m a bit of a snob I guess, when it comes to the highfire pottery – it just seems to NEED to be gorgeous, not simple and plain???
      You should try squishing some recycled BRT and another clay (smoother!) together and throwing…It’s not too bad on the hands and you’ll get speckles!

  4. Jayne Bawden · February 5, 2017

    Wonky pots might be “on trend”. I have listened to frustrated potters who have spent years perfecting their techniques who are now struggling to produce wonky commissons. I think people are rejecting “the machine” and there is a celebration of human made work. Simple bowls selling well keep the studio in production. I am a total fan of copper red reduction glazes, but not for domestic ware. In this instagram world I think trends will come and go quickly.

    • Marian Williams · February 5, 2017

      Hi, Jayne,
      Agree with all you said…however, I do use my copper reds all the time in the kitchen! But, yes, the machine is what we are all fighting-the big stores that can sell cheap pottery at cheap prices. I just hate having to compete like that, but then again…it is a trend!

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