Do you know those annoying kids that always ask, "Why?" Well, that was me, except I really wanted to know EVERYTHING -- always. I needed to know how and why everything worked. It infuriated my elementary school teachers. And in addition to this, I wanted everyone else to know as well. Nothing could be taken at face value. People needed to make informed decisions. This was the mentality of 8-year-old Ryan. From this beginning, I chased chemistry -- through a BS, MS, and Ph.D. -- as it explained how the world worked to my always inquisitive mind. And alongside chemistry, I found and became utterly infatuated with the marriage of aesthetic and function via ceramics -- how an art can become completely utilitarian and useful.
There is sooooo much chemistry in ceramic clay bodies and even more in glaze design and glaze formulation. From metal oxidation states, electron excitation and relaxation, d-orbital splitting (and f orbital splitting, ssshhhhh), opacifiers, vitrification, and variations in wavelength transmission for color, I'm hooked. Pottery is this beautiful, perfect blend of chemistry and art.
I am still using and loving glazes with various rare earth metals -- for dichroic glaze effects. From blue to lavender to pink, the light source under which this glaze is held modifies the red and blue transmission bands in the glaze and thus the color we see. In the image above, you can see the two colors of the neodymium separate, as they are diffracted by a sealed glass window into separate blue and pink images. SCIENCE!!
More can be read about the Alexandrite effect here.
-Finally finishing up the textbook for The American Ceramics Society. It's only been a few years in the process. D-:
-My research, alongside Nathan Dinh, was chosen for a national press release at the 2020 American Chemical Society conference: www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/newsreleases/2020/march/new-gold-standard-for-safer-ceramic-coatings.html
-I've started working out getter reduction mechanisms to translate reduction glazes to oxidation kilns and firings.