Dale Donovan has been working as a potter and ceramics instructor for over 40 years. A fourth generation Oregonian, Dale received his art degree from Oregon State University in 1969 and continued graduate work in ceramics at Portland State University. At Portland State, Dale developed his expertise in the production of the unique crystalline glaze, a decorative glaze for which he is well known. Dale enjoys working with porcelain clay and a variety of other beautiful glazes. He enjoys making works for every day use and pleasure as well as one-of–a-kind treasures.

The history of crystalline glaze, the Chinese call it "firecracker glaze", can be traced to the Chinese Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD). Although the technique is over a thousand years old, it was not studied and reproduced successfully in the west until the late 19th century. Today, this glaze is difficult to produce and remains a fascinating challenge for contemporary studio potters.

In most of my pottery work, I can expect a 5-10% loss rate per firing, but when I am working with crystalline glaze my losses are much higher. Because of the flowing consistency of the glaze during firing, each vase is fired on a hand made pedestal which is knocked off with a hammer after the piece has cooled; I then grind the bottom of each piece on a grinding wheel to smooth the jagged, glassy edges.

The crystals one sees in the glaze are formed from zinc. The glaze requires high firing temperatures and long holding times at over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. If the thickness of the glaze is not right, or the temperature is missed by as little as 25 degrees, the result will be a clear glass glaze — no crystals. It is exacting work to produce crystalline pieces consistently, but because of their singular beauty, I find the challenges worth the effort.

 
 
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