University of Iowa Honors Theses

Thesis Title

Frugal Artist

Major Department

Art, Studio


College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


BA (Bachelor of Arts)

Session and Year of Graduation

Spring 2017

Honors Major Advisor

Lynne Lanning

Thesis Mentor

Josh Van Stippen



Dan Milburn

Spring 2016

Josh Van Stippen

School of Art and Art History

Art rooms across the nation are in the crosshairs of administration and school boards for many reasons. The reasons at the top of the list are the educational benefits and financial aspect of the subject. Art rooms are either being reduced to small rations or being put on the table for elimination. As a future art educator in a secondary level this is something that I will be facing in the near future. For this honors project I was investigating the financial aspect of ceramic creations. By finding ways to reduce cost I can increase the amount of materials available to the students with not diminishing the creative ambitions of the students.

I can remember some of the high schools that I attended growing up buying premixed glazes and wasting a lot of materials. I didn’t think about it at the time but that waste would increase the cost of the art room operation. Pints of low fire commercial glazes are able to be purchased for 6 dollars a pint. In every classroom I have ever been in there is a lot of waste and a pint will disappear fast. I want to research different recipes for glazes finding great results and saving dollars by mixing the ingredients “in house”. By experimenting with different colorants and dyes and the process of mixing glazes I will find ways to save dollars. Ingredients such as Cobalt oxide, Copper and Barium Carbonate, and Cryolite to name a few colorants of the many to be tested. This was done by experimentation and careful note taking of percentages and combinations of ingredients to a base glaze that was taken from Cushing’s Handbook. I then attempted to recreate effects on a hand built form and then casted molds to enhance the visual aesthetic of my work.

Through many hours of test tiles construction and mixing ingredients of various glazing elements I have found a competency of base knowledge that will allow me to recreate desired effects when glazing. I have created over 150 hanging test tiles that will serve as a future reference for desired colors. Among those I have created different saturation of stains and glazing elements that increase the vibrancy of color depending on saturation of the ingredient. Also working in a quad-axial pyramid study has enabled me to better understand the base ingredients and the purpose of each. With extra work mixing your own glazes and stains one can save hundreds and even thousands in the long run. This was the most important part of this study. Because of this project my future art room will have more options for glazing projects and materials available to students. By saving money you can place in other areas of art creation that would have otherwise been under or unfunded.


Ceramics, Art, Glaze, Funding, Frugal, waste


© 2017 Dan Milburn

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