After signing up for an online class on weaving wire bezels, I got the idea to make ceramic cabochons, instead of buying glass or gemstone ones. The instructor said the stone needs to be harder than a 3 on Mohs scale of hardness. I found sources online saying that stoneware is a 6 on the scale, so I went ahead and made the cabochons.
The week before, I learned about crystalline glazes. The studio had a few bottles of Mayco Crystallites™ and Jungle Gems™. I copied the names and looked at images of the fired glazes online. Unfortunately, the colors were not what I would have chosen, but they could look like gemstones.
The ceramics instructor told me that the little chunks in the glaze were the pieces that would melt, so be sure to get those on my pieces. I tried to scoop up as many as I could with my brush, and fill up the piece with them. It’s advised to place them on flat surfaces because they’ll melt and run. That’s why I didn’t put them on the edges.
I needed to wait a month before my cabochons were finally fired, as the most productive potter at our studio was taking a break and we didn’t fill the kiln as quickly without her. Finally, when they came out, I was amazed.
The difficult part was identifying which glaze was which. I didn’t carve labels into the pieces before they had been fired, since I thought the glazes would be distinctive enough to identify them. (I can’t put glaze on the backside because the piece will get stuck to the kiln shelf. Marking the backside with a permanent marker probably would have just burned off.) The manufacturer’s images online don’t quite match my pieces. Then again, I piled on the chunks. There are a few independent images on dickblick.com, which look different from the manufacturer’s images and my own. The only Crystallites glaze that I was certain about is Herb Garden.
I didn’t think much about the two Jungle Gems, which is why I only painted one of each.
These two are my favorite ones. They don’t look like any of the others, so I wasn’t sure which glaze it is.
Since I believed they were Cappuccino Mint, I made just one cabochon and glazed it with Cappuccino Mint. However, it looks like this.
Then I made another one with Cappuccino Mint. Here is a side by side comparison of the two.
This made me wonder if the one that I had previously thought was Oriental Carmel was actually Cappuccino Mint.
I was still confused about the two mystery cabochons, but after taking a closer look at them, I noticed there were tiny patches of yellow, which is the color of the base glaze in Cappuccino Mint. It now looks to me that I had placed so many chunks on these two that when they melted, they covered the pieces entirely, so all the colors came from the glass pieces.
I then made four more cabochons and carved the backs with “O” and “S” for Oriental Carmel and Safari.
After identifying Cappuccino Mint as my favorite, I used it a few more times. However, by the last time, there weren’t that many chunks left, which is why the one at the bottom right looks sparse. It’s kind of hard to believe that the same glaze was used on all of these.
Crystalline glazes produce beautiful results and the surprise factor also makes them fun to use. I now have a lot of cabochons to wire wrap!