Ever wondered how pottery artists create those stunning, metallic gold accents on their pieces? The secret lies in a wonderful material known as gold luster. Today, we’re diving into the world of gold luster – what it is, how it’s used, and some key things you need to know before you start experimenting with it in your own pottery projects.
What is Gold Luster?
Gold luster is an overglaze – a decorative element applied to pottery after it’s been bisque fired and glaze fired. Its primary ingredient is gold, making up about 10-20% of the mixture. The rest is a blend of fluxes and oils. Fluxes help the gold adhere to the ceramic surface, while the oils assist in the application process.
Application and Firing
Gold luster is usually brushed onto the pottery piece, allowing you to highlight specific areas with that luxurious gold finish. Once applied, the piece goes back into the kiln for what’s known as a luster or overglaze firing. This firing is at a much lower temperature than the previous firings – around 018-020 in the Orton Cone rating system (approximately 1315-1377°F or 715-747°C).
Safety and Practicality
Before you get started, there are a few safety and practical considerations to keep in mind. Gold lusters often contain materials that can be harmful if not handled properly. Always work in a well-ventilated area when applying gold luster, and make sure to clean up thoroughly afterwards.
Additionally, while the finished product can be stunning, gold luster surfaces may not be food-safe. If you’re creating functional ware, it’s advisable to avoid placing luster on surfaces that will come into contact with food.
The Cost of Beauty
One more thing to bear in mind is that gold luster is a luxury item in the pottery world. The gold content makes it quite expensive, and it should be used sparingly. However, the impact it creates can be worth the cost – a little goes a long way in adding that extra sparkle to your ceramics.
Ever see a YouTube video of someone making something and have an immediate need to make one for your-self? Happens to me all the time. Last week I saw this video from creator Steven Bennett. In it he designs and builds a fume extractor designed to look like a Makita power tool.
It seamed like a fun design exercise and I have been doing a lot of soldering at home any way. I choose to make my fume extractor in the style of Milwaukee Tool for obvious reasons. This is not my first project that adopts the over molding look of a red and black power tool. SO it was also a good opportunity to have another go at DIY over molding using resin printed molds. Resin is the way to go here for a couple reasons. First the material come in clear, this means that when filling the mold it is easy to see when and where it is filling up. Second, no sanding is necessary on the interior of the mold.
I am using a Smooth-On urethane rubber colored with black pigment. On a side note the inside of the mold needs a heavy coat of mold release if you want to remove it with the part intact. I may or may not have learned that the hard way. The mold shells are held on with some clamps and then the edges are sealed with modeling clay. After the urethane is mixed it can be injected with a small syringe into a hole in the mold shell.
Did you know that April 5th is First Contact Day? It’s a fictional date from the Star Trek universe that commemorates the first meeting between humans and Vulcans in the year 2063. While we may not have made contact with extraterrestrial life yet, we can still celebrate the spirit of discovery and exploration that First Contact Day represents.
One way to celebrate is to watch the movie Star Trek: First Contact, which tells the story of how humans achieved warp drive and made first contact with the Vulcans. If you don’t have a copy of the movie, don’t worry – it’s available to stream on Amazon Prime Video and other streaming services.
Another way to celebrate is to create a 3D printed model of “The Phoenix”, the spacecraft that made the historic first warp drive flight. You can find the model on Thingiverse at this link: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2147368. Print it out and proudly display it in your home or office as a reminder of the ingenuity and curiosity that led to the historic first contact.
Of course, there are many other ways to celebrate First Contact Day. You could attend a Star Trek convention, practice your Vulcan greeting, or share your own first contact stories with friends and family.
So on April 5th, let’s celebrate First Contact Day and all the possibilities that the future holds for us as we continue to explore the final frontier. Live long and prosper!
Last month I was in Phoenix for work and our day off I made a trip to Taliesin West. On our tour one of the items that stood out most was a set of plywood chairs. At the time plywood was a relatively new material. The chair designed by Frank Lloyd Wright was made from a single sheet of plywood. Obviously I designed my own version the minute I got back to the hotel that night.
It was a fun exercise and I highly recommend. On my list of constraints was all the parts would need to fit on a single sheet of plywood and it would need to be assembled with out glue or screws. So far I just have a 1/6 scale model made to test the concept but the finished size is designed to be 48 inches tall. If you want to see the rest of my photos from the tour for your own inspiration there is a gallery at the link below.
A couple weeks ago the makerspace breezed right by a big milestone. It has been 10 years since our first open meeting at our Lenox location. 10 years ago the doors to the Lenox building were opened to the public for the first time. Our Makerspace started in a founding members Tom’s garage then moved to the first location on Chase avenue. At the time we were moving into the Lenox building we had just 40 members. Over the course of that first year membership tripled to 150. For me it was a super exciting time to see the Maker community take shape.
A group of the members shortly after moving to the Lenox location
Our mission for the past decade as set forth in out by laws is to:
A. Build and maintain spaces suitable for technical and social collaboration
B. Collaboration on all forms of technology, culture, and craft if new and interesting ways.
C. Freely share its research and discoveries, using what is learned to teach others.
D. Recruit and develop talented members dedicated to these purposes.
I am so grateful to be a member of our community of curiosity and look forward to the next decade. I would encourage you all to scroll back in time using this blog and take a look at some of the amazing projects make at our makerspace. Below is a link to the fist blog post from the then new building.