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Important Notice

Starting Monday, July 6, entry to our facility will be open for customers. However the following guidelines must be followed:

  • Only 1 person permitted at a time, no exceptions.
  • Face masks must be worn at all times (if you do not have your own, one will be provided).
  • Hand sanitizing at entry is mandatory.
  • No admittance to office or washroom accessibility.
  • Debit or credit cards - no cash accepted.

Entry is for the purchase of supplies only. Technical assistance or inquiries are to be submitted via email or phone. Curb side pickup remains available if this is preferred rather than plant entry.

Observance of these conditions is essential for the continued health and safety of our employees and our customers.

Thank you for your understanding and continued support.

Imagine if you had everything for production at home during Covid-19

All the things a potter needs: materials, equipment, supplies, tools

This is what you need to be independent, to create your own manufacturing company in your garage. Some of the prices are "instead of" rather than additive. There are many approaches to glazes, the more you are willing to learn the better you will be able to make your own (and save a lot). We recommend the cone 6 range using a small test kiln (like this 220v ConeArt GX119, don't scrimp on this, go for quality and the practicality of a Genesis controller). A kiln you can fire often and inexpensively is a key enabler to learning, developing techniques, products, designs, durable and decorative surfaces, solving problems. It can be fired multiple times a day. And it is big enough for mugs and similar sizes. It will get you into the habit of using some of your creativity for experimenting. It will give you the successes early on that will inspire you to press on learning. When you are ready, then get a big kiln and hit-the-ground-running. This potter's wheel is the best available and will last a lifetime, these often appreciate in value over time. And, build yourself a good plaster table. You will use it constantly. Not shown here is a propeller mixer, also an important tool. And you will need a sink equipped with a sink trap (Gleco Trap).

Context: Where Do I Start?, Trafficking in Glaze Recipes, Propeller Mixer, Test Kiln

Monday 6th July 2020

Cone 1-4 stoneware by mixing a low and medium temperature body

Four tiles of a red-burning clay covered with purple, yellow, orange, black glazes

These tiles are a 50:50 mix of Plainsman L215 and M390. They are fired at cone 1, 2.5 &4 (columns 1,2,3). The glaze is G3806N (v1) with stains at 10% concentrations. That glaze is a fluid-melt for cone 6, but it performs nicely down to cone 1 and even lower. There is no visible crazing and the iron body is stoneware-strength. The firings were only held for 10 minutes at cone (no slow cool). These coloured glazes are also less "muddied" by the iron in the body than would be the case at cone 6. This is a really amazing result. Red-burning bodies can be difficult at cone 6 (if fired too high the red color is lost, if fired too low they are too porous).

Wednesday 1st July 2020

Kiln wash that really works. How?

Two kiln shelves, the wash on one is even and perfect, the other is flaking and falling off

The shelf on the right in the traditional kaolin:silica kiln wash. Flaking constantly. Sticking on the feet of ware. A real aggravation. The one on the left is L4001, it is perfectly even. Yet thin. Much more refractory so it has not hardened or become brittle. Or cracked. And it paints on beautifully. The secret? Zircon. Zircopax, to be precise. Zircopax is among the most refractory materials in ceramics. We mixed it with some calcined, rather than raw kaolin. That greatly reduces drying and firing shrinkage and helps densify and stabilize the coverage (by its flat particle shape). Laguna gum solution was added to harden the dry layer and slow down the drying (their gum solution has a higher percentage of CMC than achievable using common mixing methods). Click the link below to get the recipe.

Context: Plainsman Super Kiln Wash, Kiln Wash

Monday 29th June 2020

Crawling can happen when paint-on glazes are layered over dipping glazes

The inner glaze has curtained off downward from the rim on buff stoneware bowl

This bowl was dipped in a non-gummed clear dipping glaze. Such glazes are optimized for fast drying and even coverage. However their bond with the bisque is fragile. The blue over-glaze was applied thickly on the rim (so it would run downward during firing). But during drying, it shrunk and pulled the base coat away at the rim (likely forming many tiny cracks at the interface between the clear and the bisque. That initiated the cascade of crawling. When gummed dipping glazes are going to be painted over, a base-coat dipping glaze should be used. What is that? It is simply a regular fast-dry dipping glaze with some CMC gum added (perhaps half the amount as what would be used for painting). There is a cost to this: Longer drying times after dipping and less even coverage. And gum destroys the ability to gel the glaze and make the slurry thixotropic.

Context: Base-Coat Dipping Glaze, Crawling, Glaze Layering

Monday 22nd June 2020

Tune your matte glaze to the degree of matteness you want

G2934 is a popular matte for cone 6 (far left). The mechanism of the matteness is high MgO content (it produces a more pleasant surface that cutlery marks and stains less than other mechanisms such as crystallization or insufficient melting). 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.

Context: G2934, G2916F, A good matte glaze. A bad matte glaze., A functional matte cone 6 glaze should melt as well as a glossy, Cutlery Marking, Glaze Recipes

Thursday 18th June 2020

Bisque temperature can make a big difference with fitting glaze at low fire

Two clear-glazed tiles, one crazed, the other not

This is Plainsman Buffstone with G2931L glaze fired at cone 06. A hotter bisque not only produces a stronger body but also eliminates crazing (these specimens where glaze-fired one month ago). Firing the bisque just one cone hotter has transformed the ceramic into a denser matrix having a higher thermal expansion. That has the power to put the squeeze on the glaze, preventing it from crazing. Hotter bisque temperatures can be problematic as they reduce bisque absorbency (thus lengthening dip and drying time for the glaze slurry). But for low temperature hobby ware this is not as much of a problem since glazes are gummed and dry slowly anyway. They are multi-coated for this reason (these were applied in two coats).

Context: Earthenware

Wednesday 17th June 2020

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.

Context: Plainsman Clays

Wednesday 17th June 2020

200 Shimpo wheels arriving at Plainsman. Prepared to be certified.

Crates of potter's wheels waiting in our main warehouse

This is a January 2019 shipment of wheels and pugmills from Nidec-Shimpo of Japan. Although a large company, making drive mechanisms for many types of heavy equipment, they apply their technology to potter's wheels as a matter of pride in a country that reveres pottery in its culture. We have opened every box to reveal the serial number. A certified inspector will check each and affix another sticker to assure they meet CSA Code SPE-1000 for electrical safety. This approval enables the sale of the equipment to public institutions. And it assures you that the equipment meets CSA electrical standards and is safe and insurable for use at home. Wheels like these can last a lifetime. These are very difficult to find for sale as used. Where they are, it is not uncommon to see them sold for more than what was paid new.

Context: Plainsman Clays

Wednesday 17th June 2020

Front view of the Plainsman Clays plant

Situated next to a beautiful park. On the left is the office, studio/lab, retail sales and order packing areas. On the right is the entrance to shipping area #1 (used for small-order shipping and miscellaneous receipts. Behind (not visible) is the factory and stockpile storage, driers and mixing areas. The domed beehive kiln on the left is the last of more than twenty. Plainsman is built on the site of the former Alberta Clay Products complex, a clay pipe manufacturer during the early and middle 1900s. The plant is literally sitting on top of broken-shard-rejects of decades of pipe and tile manufacturing. To the left of this picture is our main warehouse and shipping area #2 (for full semi-trailer load shipments and receipt of full loads of minerals and equipment).

Context: Plainsman Clays

Saturday 6th June 2020

Laguna B-Mix on Steroids: Wedge in some Plainsman Fire-Red!

Both pieces have a transparent glaze, G1947U. The Fire-Red (a blend of Plainsman A1/M2 and St. Rose Red) was mixed as a slurry, dewatered to plastic form and then wedged in to the B-Mix (left piece has 10%, the other 20%, the bar in front shows the pure material). The A1 supplies most of the speckle, the St Rose and M2 impart the color. This addition does not affect the working properties of BMix (it still throws very well). An added benefit is that pieces dry better. Fired strength and maturity are minimally affected (porosity stays around 1%). With a 20% addition the surface of the unglazed clay is almost metallic. Silky matte glazes, like G2571A, are stunning on a body like this.

Context: Laguna B-Mix Cone 10R mugs with Alberta and Ravenscrag glazes, Laguna B-Mix, B-Mix+Fireclay with Ravenscrag GR10-A, GR10-C glazes, Reduction Speckle, Reduction Firing

Tuesday 2nd June 2020

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

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