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Monthly Tech-Tip from Tony Hansen

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An industry misdirected by chemical analyses

In response to a query about the suitability of a clay-feldspar material for use in our porcelain bodies this company asked for our "index requirements". What does that mean? They want to know what chemistry I want (they credit all pertinent properties to the chemistry). However, I must consider physical properties like the plasticity, drying performance, Sun Proxabrush Snap-On Handle Dual End Bx/12, soluble salts (to which chemistry is unrelated); and fired properties like shrinkage, deformation and density (to which chemistry is often imprecisely related). I need to put a sample into a porcelain and compare test results to our existing products. Yes, Fe2O3 and TiO2 percentages do relate to whiteness and Funny Camper Coffee Mug - 10oz Enamel Mug - Letter S White Red F. But only when reliable and measured over time at the same lab. A lower iron percentage on the data sheet of a kaolin from one company certainly does not mean it will produce a whiter porcelain than a kaolin from another. Nor does a higher flux content mean it will vitrify a porcelain better (it depends what minerals are delivering the fluxes and what other minerals are present).

Context: Physical Testing

Wednesday 29th September 2021

Every studio, lab, classroom needs a good label printer

This is an Epson LW-600P. It generates durable water-proof labels that are perfect for identifying buckets and jars of materials and glazes. Apps are available for iOS, Android, Windows and Mac. You can insert a QRCode on to a label (perfect for taking someone to an SDS or information page). Insight-live emphasizes assigning unique code numbers to all recipes you create and maintain, this is the perfect way to prominently display it. We find the yellow 18mm labels work well to display code numbers (the white 22mm for detail). The cartridges snap in in seconds so it is easy to change them. While the printer does support blue-tooth, enabling anyone with a phone to use the device, for routine label-making it works best when USB-connected on a desktop computer (the app works better and there is no waiting).

Context: This is a key to organizing your studio, lab or teaching facility, Code Numbering

Monday 27th September 2021

Cross section comparison between cone 04 terra cotta and cone 6 iron stoneware

Both of these bodies have a range of particle sizes (from 42 mesh and finer). The glaze on the cone 04 section (close-up on the left) is very well melted, but its interfacial zone with the body is narrow, it is basically just "stuck on" the surface (so it must be tuned to match the thermal expansion of the body to prevent crazing/shivering). The body is not developing any clearly visible glassy phases, meaning that any strength it has is purely a product of sintering. On the right, the interfacial zone of glaze-with-stoneware-body is wider. The body has incipient melting (tiny feldspar particles are fusing and beginning to dissolve into the surfaces of surrounding ones). The color has changed from red to brown.

Context: Terra cotta, Clay Body Porosity, Vitrification, Sintering

Monday 27th September 2021

Two awesome low fire transparent highly fritted glazes for pottery

These work well from cone 04 up, they are better than any commercial transparent we have used. And far better than glazes made using raw sources of boron (like ulexite, colemanite, Gerstley Borate). These glazes have lower thermal expansion and do not Tile Redi T3448R-SCDNPVZ Shower Pan Kit with Flashing, Right Dra on any body we have tried (yet are ultra gloss and ultra clear). They are G1916QL1 and G3879C. We developed them for use on the dolomite-based (rather than talc-based) L4410L low temperature art clay body. These are a good demonstration of the technical and economic sense it makes to use highly fritted glazes at low temperatures. Having a good base glaze is the key to adopting low temperatures for your production. You would likely agree that no stoneware glaze has melting patterns like these shown in this melt fluidity test! These recipes and all details about their development and adjustment are openly available.

Context: Transparent Glazes

Thursday 16th September 2021

What did I do to make this glaze stop crawling?

This is G2934Y white (with 10% Zircopax). I was blaming the zircon for the crawling. But, since the slurry had settled somewhat I was able to remove about 15% of the water and replace it with CMC gum solution. This gum addition was not enough to slow down the drying much (a reason that I avoid gum if possible). That fixed it! Meaning that adherence of the dried layer to the bisque was the issue. This being said, there were still a couple of small spots where it crawled. So I will replace another 5% of the water the next time I use it.

Context: CMC Gum, Crawling

Thursday 16th September 2021

Are you using your expensive kiln like a pop-up toaster?

Put the pots in, select a cone, press start. It is time to rethink that approach! Seriously. The Bartlett Genesis kiln controller is standard equipment on hobby and production electric kilns now. It is not meant to be run like a toaster! Good glazes are about much more than recipes, they are about firing schedules. None of the built-in "toaster schedules" have hold times on any segments, HUSUKU Universal Motorcycle Sequential LED Turn Signal Lights Bl sequences or controlled cools. Or even fire-to-cone accuracy. Yet such are a must for defect-free glazes, enhancing the effects of reactive glazes that must develop crystallization or variegation or firing accurately. It is easy to program: Tap the blue edit button to edit a program, tap a column of any segment to edit its value. Tap a segment number to delete or duplicate it. Google "bartlett genesis controller" for videos on creating and editing a schedule.

Context: When the cone does this I need to adjust the program, Manually programming a Bartlett V6-CF hobby kiln controller, Bloating on a range of bodies at cone 6: Why is this happening?, Be thankful for the hobby kiln controllers we have in North America, Bartlett Genesis Kiln Controller Programming, Firing Schedule, Kiln Controller

Thursday 16th September 2021

Fire organic ceramic shapes with this warping body for cone 6

Left is L4410K, right is L4410L. Very similar, but L has 5% more dolomite. And these cone 6 glazes work well, G2934Y left and G2936A right. These are slip-cast pieces, the walls are not super thin, but the straight-sided shape makes them more susceptible to warping and buckling. This effect can also be achieved using talc bodies, but they have the issue of being brittle, volatile, bloating and not fitting glazes. But both of these pieces have excellent fired strength at cone 6, they have a porcelain-like surface. Of course you will need to test shapes, adjust dolomite content and control firing temperature carefully to be able to do this with consistency. If you are near a Plainsman Clays distributor, they made a test run of L4410L (as the new L213), boxes are available for order. If not, you can mix your own.

Context: Warping

Sunday 12th September 2021

One reason why frits are such a good source of boron

These two glazes have very similar chemistries (except that G2931G has a much lower SiO2 content, that is why it is melting better). Left: 0.75 molar boron is being sourced by a high quality frit in G3879C, Fusion Frit F-524. Right: Ulexite is sourcing the same 0.75 boron. Ulexite is a natural material (it is mostly ulexite, but does have other contaminants). Unlike the frit, it contains volatiles that produce an LOI on firing, these gases are generated during the melting phase, producing obvious bubbling.

Saturday 11th September 2021

Three rutile blue glazes at cone 6

These are GA6-C Alberta Slip floating blue, AMACO Potter's Choice PC-20 Blue Rutile, GR6-M Ravenscrag floating blue. The clay is M390. The firing is cone 6, the schedule is C6DHSC (drop-and-hold, slow cool). The inside is GA6-B. The two on the left develop the blue color because of the slow-cool, the one on the right works on fast-cool because it contains cobalt (although it will fire somewhat more mottled). The centre one is a bottled commercial product, it was painted on in three coats. The result is quite compelling, this is a good place to start if you want the rutile-blue effect. Remember, these work best on dark-burning bodies.

Context: Ceramic Rutile, Ravenscrag cone 6 floating blue thinner and thicker applications, Ravenscrag Cone 6 Floating Blue on porcelain and a red stoneware, Rutile Glaze

Saturday 11th September 2021

An Alberta Slip based black passed all the leaching tests

This is the G3914A recipe on Plainsman M340 test tiles. They were fired at cone 04 using the PLC6DS schedule. We tested them in four different caustic liquids (using the GLLE test), there is no sign of leaching on any of them. This recipe contains only 4% black stain, that is enough to stain the base GA6-B glaze to a jet black. The surface has a unique iridescence not found in any other glossy black we have used.

Saturday 11th September 2021

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Maintain your recipes, test results, firing schedules, pictures, materials, projects, etc. Organizing that data and learning from it will empower you. You will formulate and fix your own recipes and processes. Because it is on-line you can access your data from any connected device. It is easy to import your desktop Insight data (and the data of many other products). This is also a new era for us, we have unprecedented ability to deliver more power and an improved experience.

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