They say that good things are worth waiting for in life. That’s how we feel about our new orange glaze. It’s taken us a while, but it’s been well worth the wait. And we don’t have one new orange glaze – we have five! You see? It’s true! Good things are worth waiting for! View our current Glaze Color Chart.
A few weeks ago, we introduced 12 new glazes – today we are adding 5 more to our lineup. All the colors we are launching today are in a variety of orange shades – perfect for a Halloween launch!
Customers love our glaze colors – very contemporary, they tell us. Our mug styles and colors sell well in retail stores as they connect with consumers, their homes and lifestyles. Every once in a while, a customer will request us to match their logo PMS color – that’s where colors become a challenge. We’re simply not a paint company that can mix pigments together and come up with a new color. Jason, our production manager will tell you, there’s much more chemistry and science involved.
When Tom started the business in 1998, he offered 12 glaze colors. While some of the twelve remain a part of our offering like our Sunfire Red and Natural Clear, many of the original dozen no longer exist. Simply because the minerals used back then are not the same as today.
Launching New Glaze Colors
As we look to introduce new glaze colors, we start by looking at trends. In 2015, Marsala was introduced as the Pantone color of the year – very similar to our current Mulberry Blush. We also listen to customer requests and their wish list. If we get enough customers asking for the same color (like orange!) we work hard to fit their needs. So that’s our starting point from the sales and marketing side.
The next step is working with Jason and his production team to understand the characteristics of what we’re looking for. He typically asks two questions:
- Do we want a glossy glaze? Matte? Satin-Matte? Transparent?
- What color family? When we say ‘orange’, do we want primary orange? Blaze orange? Tangerine? Apricot?
Our guidance gives Jason a starting point on the glaze base he needs to use. Certain components don’t work well with specific bases and others need a ‘host’ or ‘partner’ for the ingredients to interact with each other in the way desired.
With the requirements for color established, production begins making additions to the base centered on scientific formulas and guidelines. The process becomes a fundamental trial and error experience by creating the base formula, documenting the process and firing it for results. Typically the desired result doesn’t transpire in the first trial run – or the second trial or the third or fourth for that matter.
Creating a new glaze is all about chemistry. Making sure all of the components fit, melt and interact together as one. One of our proprietary glaze recipes could look completely different depending on the conditions. A chemical reaction can be caused by the clay body, the technique applying the glaze, the firing program, the kiln atmosphere – even the water used can play a part in the glaze being successful or not. It simply is a test, adjust; test, adjust; test and adjust the process.
One day all the chemistry connects and ‘presto’ we have the beautiful color we were trying to attain. After admiration, the challenge faced is to duplicate the mugs beauty. It starts with another attempt to replicate and repeat success. It can take as long as the 1st step. And sometimes it’s a bit more frustrating as you know it can be done as you’ve done it before – just how did we make it work?
Once we are confident on the color and know we can imitate the recipe for years to come, we send the glaze out to be independently tested for leaching levels and long-term safety. It is also during this process we gain confirmation that the glaze is FDA compliant.
We work hard to make sure new glaze colors will perform up to our standards for many years to come. We consider many factors: the beverages put into a glazed mug, the behavior of microwaves and the detergent used in dishwashers etc. These dynamics have influence and can create havoc with the final outcome if not considered.
Gaining consistency of color is important also. When a customer orders 15,000 mugs, they want every hand thrown mug to be similar in color and functionality. While customers appreciate the individual artsy part where every mug is hand thrown and unique, it is their name is being placed in stone(ware). Our artisan-thrown, glazed mugs are meant to reflect an organization’s corporate values and standards. Uniformity is important to the process.
As a mug progresses from a freshly thrown piece on a pottery wheel, it travels into a bisque state. During this first firing, the 1800° kiln is burning off carbon and organic materials while releasing sulfur within the clay mug. The clay structure changes as the temperature increases. At the same time, the kiln is also removing water from the clay mug as it fires and dries the ware.
Repeat orders can also be a challenge. Customers will question why when they ordered the same style and glaze color three months ago, the mugs look different this time around. It’s hard to give a definitive answer to that. The difference in color could go back to a number of things starting with the glaze minerals where they are mined. Nature has control of that. The clay base, chemical composition, purity of materials, firing times, temperatures, placement in the kiln, techniques applied, time of the dip, consistency of glaze etc. It’s a science – and an appreciation for hand thrown stoneware.
Orange You Happy
We’re thrilled to add 5 more new 100% lead-free glaze colors to our line up – and hope you enjoy for years to come.
Keeping watch. Pat