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H555

Description

High temperature, smooth, functional, medium plastic, vitreous, light grey-buff burning body made from a mix of refined and clean native clays for reduction and oxidation fired functional stoneware. H555 is a 50:50 blend of our native materials (like those used in H550) and of refined industrial minerals (like ball clay, kaolin, feldspar, silica). It thus features some of the robust drying and working properties of the former while also displaying the more refined and vitreous fired character of the latter.

Process Properties

H555 is one of Plainsman's most pleasant throwing bodies. Although smooth and fine, it is not as slick as bodies made entirely of refined materials. It dries relatively fast and has very high green strength.

H555 has a lower drying shrinkage and thus it dries with less cracking. However, since it is fine grained, extra care and attention in drying are rewarded when making larger pieces, especially flat plates and shallow bowls (i.e. use slip containing an aggregate like molochite, focus drying on evenness rather than speed, use as much pressure and lateral movement as possible when joining, make ware with an even cross section, etc.).

Firing

H555 fired test bars. Cone 10R top. Cone 8 to 11 oxidation (bottom upward).

H555 fires to a pleasant light grey-buff in reduction and buff-white in oxidation. It is semi-vitreous (burns to about 1% porosity at cone 10). It burns significantly whiter than H550 (our buff burning native stoneware) and the speckle population and size is much lower. By cone 7 porosity is about 4% so we do not recommend this body for middle temperature functional ware.

H555's high fired strength and homogeneous surface makes it an excellent compromise for fine functional stoneware. But remember that while it is more resistant to warping than our porcelains it is more prone to deforming on overhung or extreme shapes than our native stonewares.

Glazing

H555 does not bleed iron or interfere with glaze melts and thus encourages clean results. However if you use earthtone glazes that are at their best on iron or speckled bodies, consider trying H550 or H443. If you use white or transparent glazes there will be some scattered small back speckles, especially if the glaze cover is thin.

H555 is easier to fit glazes to than our porcelains but can require a little more effort than our stoneware bodies.

H555 with Ravenscrag celadon glaze. Fired at cone 10R.

Glaze Recipes

Commercial brush-on glazes offer many colors and surfaces. For functional ware check for glaze fit (vital for quality functional ware). Do not assume food safety of brightly colored glazes in your kiln and with layering without a leach test (e.g. GLLE test). Consider using transparent or white liner glazes for food surfaces.

Mixing your own glazes is practical (with our clear guidelines even beginners can make dipping glazes that go on silky smooth and evenly and dry in seconds). If you already do this using recipes from the web, be careful. High-feldspar glazes (having more than about 35%) often craze. Some recipes rely on high melt fluidity to encourage crystallization and variegation (often because of inadequate SiO2 and Al2O3 or containing Gerstley Borate or Frit), view these with suspicion for leaching and cutlery marking; test them well (also test the additionless versions). Be suspicious of any glaze not having good documentation.

Consider using our G1947U glossy or G2571A matte base recipes, just add colorants, opacifiers, variegators (you will find links to much more information and pictures about these). If you have a recipe that is troublesome, consider transplanting its opacifiers, colorants and variegators to these bases instead. http://ravenscrag.com and http://albertaslip.com also have many recipes that work well on porcelains.

Crazing: Functional ware must remain craze-free (crazing is unsanitary and drastically reduces ware strength). Because ware is not crazed out of the kiln does not mean it will not do so with time. Do cycles of a boiling water:ice water immersions (BWIW test) on a piece to test glaze fit (by stressing it to bring out any crazing or shivering tendencies).

Glaze slurry consistency and quality: A secret to achieving even glaze coverage is controlling the thixotropy and specific gravity of the slurry, both in freshly mixed and stored batches. A glaze of the right specific gravity and having a slightly gelled condition goes on to bisque ware evenly, does not drip and dries in seconds. Always screen glazes when first making them (80 mesh). Be alert to any particulate that may appear after storage (e.g. precipitates) and screen again if needed.

For slip decoration and engobes be careful to match the fired shrinkage of the slip with the body. Where we do not recommend a specific engobe recipe use a formula based on the porcelain itself. Add 2% VeeGum or Bentonite (the extra stickiness helps it adhere well to leather hard ware). Be careful about adding fluxes (e.g. frit), this increases fired shrinkage (the mismatch with body can cause flaking) and can compromise opacity.

If you want to develop and mix your own glazes and engobes consider getting an account at http://insight-live.com. You can organize a methodical development program and adopt better methods of testing (e.g. melt fluidity, thermal stress, slip-fit tests).

Thermal Expansion

We do not supply a thermal expansion value. The reason is that such numbers often mislead users. First, a body has different thermal expansion characteristics when fired at different temperatures, schedules and atmospheres. Dilatometers are only useful when manufacturers can measure bodies and glazes over time and in the same firing conditions. If a chart is supplied here, please view only as a way to compare one body with another.

Another significant issue is that many customers compare measured thermal expansion numbers with calculated values of glazes in efforts to fits those glazes to a body. This does not work. Calculated values are relative only and have limitations that must be understood. The best way to fit glazes to your clay bodies is by testing, evaluation, adjustment and retesting. For example, if a glaze crazes, adjust its recipe to bring the expansion down (using your account at insight-live), fire a glazed piece and thermal stress it (using an IWCT test, 300F into ice-water). If it still crazes, repeat the process.

If we recommend a base clear or glossy glaze, try calculating the expansion of that as a rough guide to know whether your glazes will fit.

Physical Properties

 Drying Shrinkage: 5.5-6.5%
 Dry Strength: n/a
 Water Content: 21.5-22.5%
 Drying Factor: C120
 Dry Density: n/a

Sieve Analysis (Tyler mesh):

     +48: 0.0-0.1%
   48-65: 0.0-0.2
  65-100: 0.0-0.3
 100-150: 0.1-0.5
 150-200: 1.5-2.5
 200-325: 5.0-9.0

Fired Shrinkage:

   Cone 8: 6.0-7.0%
  Cone 10: 6.5-7.5
 Cone 10R: 7.0-8.0

Fired Absorption:

   Cone 8: 1.0-2.0%
  Cone 10: 0.5-1.5
 Cone 10R: 0.5-1.5

Chemical Analysis

 CaO       0.6
 K2O       2.0
 MgO       0.5
 Na2O      0.3
 TiO2      0.7
 Al2O3    20.9
 P2O5      0.0
 SiO2     65.5
 Fe2O3     1.1
 MnO       0.0
 LOI       8.3%

Gallery

Safety Data Sheet

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Logo Plainsman Clays Ltd.
702 Wood Street, Medicine Hat, Alberta T1A 1E9
Phone: 403-527-8535 FAX:403-527-7508
Email: plainsman@telus.net