Tech-Tips

Sign Up for our monthly informational email.

Find thousands more like these: Use the search field at the top of the page at the Digitalfire Reference Library.

Next 10 Tips

Ravencrag rutile blue vs. Alberta Slip floating blue at cone 6

Ravencrag rutile blue vs. Alberta Slip floating blue at cone 6

Both have been applied at moderate thickness on Plainsman M325 (using a slurry of about 1.43-1.45 specific gravity, higher values end up getting them on too thick). The Ravenscrag version highlights contours better (the edges are black because of the black engobe underneath). It also produces the blue color whether or not the kiln is slow cooled to 1400F (although a faster cool is less blue). But the Alberta Slip version has zero cobalt so is less expensive to make. It produces a deeper color over the black engobe underneath the upper section of the pieces. Both of these produce a wide range of effects with different thickness, bodies and firing schedules.

Friday 22nd June 2018

Ever wondered why your dealer can quickly get the clay you need?

Ever wondered why your dealer can quickly get the clay you need?

This is our warehouse. It is really big! There are 20,000+ boxes in stock of almost every kind of clay we make (about fifty). Plus a hundred different ceramic material powders, many of which we buy in truckload quantities. We keep all kinds of equipment and supplies in stock also (in other storage areas), having a total value exceeding that of the clay. This means that when your dealer orders a truckload of clay, materials, supplies, tools and equipment from us, they get it fast.

Wednesday 20th June 2018

Mining the Battle Formation in our quarry at Ravenscrag, Saskatchewan - June 2018

Mining the Battle Formation in our quarry at Ravenscrag, Saskatchewan - June 2018

This is the top layer. Battle clay is highly bentonitic, it is the "super hero of plasticity" in the quarry, it is unbelievably sticky. We have considered it "over-burden" in the past, but now will be looking for ways to employ Battle clay in our products and seeking special-purpose markets for it. Only 15% of this can turn a silt into a plastic throwing body! It is also high in fluxes (melts by cone 6). That means we can use it to improve the fired maturity of bodies, reducing the need for talc. Removal of this layer has exposed the top of the White-Mud Formation, the "A1" layer. A1 is employed in high fire bodies to impart brown color and fired speckle.

Wednesday 20th June 2018

Why is there a health warning on the top of each box of clay?

Why is there a health warning on the top of each box of clay?

Like any dirt, clays contain quartz. Quartz particles, if inhaled in just the right size, can block the tiny air passages in your lungs. Quartz is all around us, it makes up about 12 percent of the land surface and about 20 percent of the Earth's crust. This label is a reminder to reduce dust levels in your studio and working area. You can see specifics about hazards of any of our products by clicking links (on any manfuacturers website) to view the SDS (Safety Data Sheet). It contains references to where you can learn more about working safely.

Wednesday 20th June 2018

Mel Noble at Plainsman Clay's Ravenscrag, Saskatchewan quarry

Mel Noble at Plainsman Clay's Ravenscrag, Saskatchewan quarry

Plainsman extracts 6 different sedimentary clays from this quarry (Mel knows where the layers separate). The dried test bars on the right show them (top to bottom). The range of properties exhibited is astounding. The top-most layer is the most plastic and has the most iron concretion particles (used in our most speckled reduction bodies). The bottom one is the least plastic and most silty (the base for Ravenscrag Slip). The middle two are complete buff stonewares made by mother nature (e.g. M340 and H550). A2, the second one down, is a ball clay (similar to commercial products like OM#4, Bell). A2 is refractory and the base for Plainsman Fireclay. The second from the bottom fires the whitest and is the most refractory (it is the base for H441G).

Wednesday 20th June 2018

G2926S low expansion cone 6 base glaze is here

G2926S low expansion cone 6 base glaze is here

G2926B has proven to be my most durable, crystal clear, non-crazing, easy-to-use general purpose cone 6 base glaze (from dozens I developed). However, some porcelains (e.g. Plainsman P300) need an even lower thermal expansion. G2926S adjusts "B" (by adding low-expansion MgO at the expense of high-expansion KNaO). Yet it has the same gloss. The insides of these P300 mugs use it (with 10% added Zircopax to make white). "S" is not an all-purpose recipe, it could shiver on high silica bodies, use it if G2926B fails an IWCT test for crazing. These mugs were fired using the PLC6DS firing schedule, the outside glazes are G2934Y silky matte with added stains.

Saturday 16th June 2018

What happens if Ravenscrag Raspberry is applied too thick

What happens if Ravenscrag Raspberry is applied too thick

These are Plainsman P300 mugs fired at cone 6. When the glaze, GR6-E, goes on too thick (as on the left) it is dark maroon and has a pebbly surface that does highlight contours. This went on too thick because the specific gravity of the slurry was too high, about 1.53 (even a one-second dip put to thick a layer on the pieces). When I thinned it down to about 1.45 and flocculated it using espom salts, it went on thinner, yet still evenly, and I got the result on the right.

Saturday 16th June 2018

Coffee Clay now available

Coffee Clay now available

Left: M390. Right: Coffee. The glaze is GA6-A Alberta Slip amber base. The top halves have L3954B white engobe under the glaze. To read all about it on the Coffee Clay data sheet click here. Its working properties are like M340. Glazes that work on M340 should work on this (e.g. G2926B clear, Alberta Slip and Ravenscrag Slip glazes). Colorants in the body will bleed into glazes, making them appear completely different than they would on lighter burning bodies. Rutile glazes will come alive! Most transparent glazes will bubble-cloud, use GA6-A if possible (see the data sheet for more information).

Thursday 24th May 2018

Tune your matte glaze to the degree of matteness you want

Tune your matte glaze to the degree of matteness you want

G2934 is a popular matte for cone 6 (far left). It is not matte because it is not melting enough or is covered with micro-crystals, it is an MgO matte (a mechanism produces a more pleasant surface that cutlery marks and stains less). But what if it is too matte for you? This recipe requires accurate firings, did your kiln really go to cone 6? Proven by a firing cone? If it did, then we need plan B: Add some glossy to shine it up a bit. I fired these ten-gram GBMF test balls of glaze to cone 6 on porcelain tiles, they melted down into nice buttons that display the surface well. Top row proceeding right: 10%, 20%, 30%, 40% G2926B added (100% far right). Bottom: G2916F in the same proportions. The effects are similar but the top one produces a more pebbly surface.

Tuesday 22nd May 2018

Matte cone 6 glazes have identical chemistry but one melts more. Why?

Matte cone 6 glazes have identical chemistry but one melts more. Why?

These are 10 gram GBMF test balls that we melted on porcelain tiles at cone 4 (top two) and cone 6 (bottom two). They compare the melt fluidity of G2934 (left) and G2934Y (right). The Y version sources its MgO from frit and talc (rather than dolomite). It is a much more fluid melt because the frit is yielding the oxides more readily. But Y has a key benefit: It has a much lower LOI, producing fewer entrained air bubbles and therefore fewer surface defects. And, even though it runs much more, it has the same matte surface! As long as it is applied at normal thickness, the extra melt fluidity does not cause any running. And it has another benefit: Less cutlery marking issues. It is actually a very durable and practical food surface glaze, having a low thermal expansion that fits almost any body. Although these appear glossy here, on ware they have the identical pleasant silky matte surface.

Tuesday 22nd May 2018

Next 10 Tips

Like us on Facebook so we can start communicating.

Map