Juliette graduated from NBCCD in Fredericton in 2000. She then stayed on at the college to teach and studio tech for two years. In 2002, she set up her clay studio in Harvey, NB – which she still maintains today.
Juliette’s specialty is crystalline glazes on high-fired porcelain clay – the first in the Maritimes to be successful in this difficult process. Crystals in the glaze are developed by manipulation of the kiln atmosphere – in fact, recreating a similar environment in which natural crystals grow. The fluidity of this glaze adds to its complexity. “ It is the technical challenge of this glaze that keeps me fascinated. A small alteration in temperature or application or form changes the final result dramatically. Nothing about this work is easy. It is not for everyone. However, for me, opening the kiln after a firing, is like Christmas morning each and every time.”
Juliette’s journey in clay has been published in the Globe and Mail and the Daily Gleaner. She has done many commissions, including work for the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival and for the St. John Board of Trade. She has done several solo shows in various galleries throughout New Brunswick. Her work was selected in a juried show in Florida at the NCECA in 2011. In 2013, she was invited to Spain to partake in a crystalline glaze symposium– where 50 crystalline artists from around the world shared their knowledge and create works to exhibit at a castle in La Bisbal, Spain. She received a Travel Grant from ArtsNB for this endeavor. Juliette teaches workshops in crystalline glazes for NBCCD and teaches clay privately and through Edventures Fredericton and Sunbury Shores, St. Andrews.
Crystalline glazing is not for the faint of heart. It is a difficult and vast process which can be altered by many factors. It takes many years of trials and tribulations to establish what is called a ‘good’ crystal glaze. Everything about crystalline work is intricate and expensive; from throwing porcelain clay, to forming suitable vessels, to glazing and to firing. Yet, it is also very rewarding.
There are different types of crystals. What I focus on is what is called zinc silicate crystals. A basic crystalline glaze is made up of three main parts: zinc, glass former and flux. Colourants are added to this basic formula to create beautiful hues of blue, green, warm browns, ivory, yellow, pink, reds and violets. The trick is to differentiate the background colour from the crystal colour as well as to create a balanced ratio between background and crystal growth. This is where it gets tricky. Temperature, glaze thickness, glaze ingredients and form all dictates this delicate ratio.
The basic rules to crystalline work is to choose forms that are simple, elegant and which are conducive to flow. Then, a glaze is applied very thickly on the top of the vessel, medium in the middle and thin on the bottom. A catcher is attached to the bottom of the pieces to catch the glaze flow for crystalline glaze is very fluid. After this, the piece is placed in the kiln and fired to anywhere from cone 6 to cone 12 or 13. I fire to cone 10, which is approximately 1300 Celsius.
However, once I reach top temperature, I do not shut off the kiln. I actually fire the kiln as it cools, holding the temperature steady for many hours so that crystals will ‘grow’. Varying where this hold takes place and for how long the hold is determines the size and the shape of the crystals. Going up and down in temperature creates what is called halos around the crystal. After the firing, the pedestal is removed with a torch and/or tapping and the bottom is sanded smooth.
No two pieces are alike. They are truly one-of-a-kind.