September 16, 2014

Roundhouse Blue Glaze for Van Briggle

Roundhouse Blue

During Van Briggle Art Pottery’s relocation from the Roundhouse in the fall of 2008, a room was opened upstairs which had previously been sealed shut. When the door was pried open, the 5 ft. x 8 ft. room was found to contain a fine white powder approximately 3 feet deep. Craig Stevenson was consulted, and it was determined that this was the exhaust from the spray booth dust collection system. Under the assumption that this was all glaze material, the decision was made by Craig to collect this powder for possible future use by the company.

In May 2009, after the pottery was in operation at 1024 S. Tejon St. location, Stevenson added water to a sample of the powder and dipped a V4 (for 2004)butterfly bowl, etched by D.R. and bisque fired in 2004. The result was a higher gloss than desired, and somewhat uneven and speckled; however, it was a beautiful denim blue in color.

Stevenson granted Ned Tonge permission to continue working with the glaze. Gary Dhondt, master glazier at Van Briggle, was consulted and he taught Ned the current method of mixing and refining a small ten pound batch of the powder. Another butterfly bowl poured in red clay, etched by Candy Curtis and marked AO (for 2010) was used with this test batch. Not certain of the amount of glaze to use, Ned dipped the butterfly bowl into the glaze, drained it, and then turned it upside down and dipped it halfway again. When this was fired, the double-thick part was a beautiful matte denim blue with a speckled finish. It was then that the staff knew they had something special!

The name “Roundhouse Blue” was suggested by a long-time friend of the pottery; and the glaze was placed into limited production. Ned, Candy & Gary have produced some dramatic effects with this glaze on butterfly bowl, dragonfly, rabbit and a few other molds.

While the “exhaust spray powder” might be analyzed for reproduction; it was this 40+ year of accidental accumulation that yielded a most remarkable glaze effect!

Information provided by Ned Tonge.

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