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Deco Underglazes

deco glazes stockists

Used by experts

Deco Underglazes are used by

  • professional ceramicists, potters
  • amateur hobbyists
  • primary schools
  • high schools
  • TAFE Colleges

Deco Glazes in use

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The Creation of Deco Colours by Marc Sauvage

Marc Sauvage is well known as both a potter and teacher. The 34 colours of the Deco Decorative Colours range are the boldest and brightest underglazes available, with every colour successfully firing to stoneware temperatures. Following is Marc's account of the development of the DECO range.

The creation of DECO colours was a slow, involved process instigated by a love of colour in ceramics and fuelled by my involvement with students as a TAFE teacher in the ceramics section at Southbank TAFE.

Colour in various forms was used daily with mixed results. The two main commercially available underglazes each presented difficulties. One brand was intensely coloured, but performed only to Earthenware temperatures with disappointing results at stoneware. The other brand performed well to Stoneware, whilst limited stain percentages reduced colour brilliance.

My goal, then, was to create a colour range with the maximum colour intensity that could fire right through the range from earthenware to stoneware. This proved a difficult and frustrating task. I tested over a hundred different stains from a number of sources, adding various fluxes to help the melt; kaolin to help opacity and suspension; different clay bodies and firing temperatures. The physical properties of the colour, as well as the fired characteristics had to be addressed. Colours needed to be thick and remain in suspension, as well as perform off the brush in various applications. After testing a number of different mediums, both synthetic and organic, I found the best brushing properties were obtained using a CMC gum solution, which provided great flow as well as thickening the mixture to a gel.
Following a 12 month test process, fine tuning each recipe for the 30 colours chosen, DECO was born in November 1995. Trying to avoid going into debt for an idea we weren't sure would work, we started very simply. Hundreds of balls for the ball mill were laboriously rolled by hand from bags of Northcote Porcelain (a fun family task!) and fired in my small test kiln. Initially, the colours were sieved by a hand-held 200 mesh sieve until, after six months of daily sieving, I developed RSI in my wrists. By this stage we had saved enough money to pay an engineer $1000 to make a machine to sieve the colours. "Automation" was wonderful and enabled me to perform other tasks such as printing labels, filling jars and so on. DECO grew gradually over a period of years and we were eventually able to employ someone on a part-time basis to help process the colours.

In September 2001, ten new colours were added to the original range of 30 underglazes. As time permits, I enjoy returning to the 'lab' to work on new projects with a typically 'mad scientist' approach. I am currently exploring a range of coloured finishes for sculptural pieces, mainly matt, sandy, and textured glazes, as well as perhaps a majolica system with base white glazes and coloured in-glaze pigments, hopefully, the next six months will see a new release.

I am often asked in workshops about decorating and firing approaches to my own work and offer the following information as a response:

After working in both Earthenware and Stoneware for many years and suffering the disadvantages of both, I am completely converted to mid-firing. It just makes sense. I use Clayworks MFQ exclusively for throwing, slab-building, extruded handles and slip casting, which fires to a beautiful fully-vitrified white body at 1060deg-1180degC. The dry green ware is decorated with underglazes, bisqued to 1000degC. and clear glazed using a brush on clear, then glost fired to Cone 5 with a half hour soak. I have found this combination of materials and processes produces the brightest, most durable range of ceramic ware, and has eliminated problems such as crazing, shivering, excessive porosity and colour burn-out...and the DECO underglazes love it!

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Deco Glazes in Use