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M390 mug by Sarah Pike

Wowzers! These are actually hand-made, not thrown on the potter's wheel. You can see the vertical join by the handle as it rotates. Her's is a simple concept: A red clay with a thin application of partially opacified matte glaze. She flaunts a bare red clay base, polishing it. You can find her easily on Instagram and google.

Wednesday 24th April 2019

Brushing glazes can go on unevenly for more than one reason

Brushing glazes can go on unevenly for more than one reason

Both of these were glazed by brushing. The inside transparent and white glazes are fairly easy to apply evenly but the bright color on the outside left one certainly is not. The problem is a combination of things. It is difficult to apply it evenly with a brush. It is difficult to get it on thick enough. And this commercial glaze does not contain enough of the purple stain (so I added 6 grams of Mason 6304 Violet powder to the 2/3 of a jar I had left). That, more careful brushing, and an extra layer produced the piece on the right!

Wednesday 24th April 2019

How to give children a good experience in working with clay

How to give children a good experience in working with clay

Teachers who have never worked with clay face a formidable challenge with this. This read-in-three-minutes page is a complete beginners crash course in what you need to know. It explains what clay is, the advantages of working at lower temperatures, how to plan and inspire the children before starting, how to join and dry pieces, what is glaze and how to use it and how to fire the ware. The page explains things with an objective that the reader understand the basic whats, hows and whys of ceramics and pottery.

Tuesday 23rd April 2019

Low fire ware cracking during firing. Why?

Low fire ware cracking during firing. Why?

Most low-fire bodies contain talc. It is added for the express purpose of increasing thermal expansion. The natural quartz present does the same. These are good for glaze fit but bad for ware like this. You could fiddle with the clay recipe or change bodies, but better to change the firing schedule. While stoneware dunting happens between 950-1150F on the way down, this could be happening anywhere. A simple fix is to slow down the entire cooling cycle. Learn to program your kiln. Use a conservative cooling rate of about 200F/hr (even slower between 950 to 1150). No electronic controller? Learn a switch-setting-schedule to approximate this down-ramp (buy a pyrometer if needed).

Wednesday 17th April 2019

Want bright orange on your ware?

Want bright orange on your ware?

Orange is a very difficult color in ceramics. Inclusion stains are the only reliable method and universally used in industry. But you could ignore that and try a bunch of recipes online, buying exotic materials to complete each one. Maybe one will be orange enough, but will it craze or run or blister or leach or cutlery mark or crawl? Or you could put an orange stain into a transparent glaze you already know works on your clay. Or, how about trying a premixed orange at low fire? Ware can be amazingly functional and there are so many other bright colours available.

Wednesday 10th April 2019

Wanna throw porcelain plates with thick bottoms and thin rims?

Wanna throw porcelain plates with thick bottoms and thin rims?

Then they may need a week to dry! This plate had a one-inch-thick base (while the rim is a quarter of that). During the first few hours a thin rim like this will dry quickly, leaving the base far behind. But as soon as it would support the weight of a cover-cloth I put it into a garbage bag and sealed and left it for several days. Even after that it did not detach easily, even though the bat had been dry. The base was still quite soft but the rim was stiff enough to enable turning it over and trimming it (I endeavoured to create a cross section of even thickness). Then I dried it under layers of cloth for several more days. It took at least a week. Had I allowed the rim to dry out during the first few hours it would likely have cracked later on.

Tuesday 9th April 2019

Supercharge the plasticity of cone 6 reclaimed clay

If your reclaim is short and non-plastic you can make it better-than-new by using an additive of 50% ball clay and 50% bentonite. While only a few percent bentonite supercharges the plasticity of any clay body it is almost impossible to get it to mix into a wet slurry or plastic clay. But thoroughly shaking it together with ball clay (in a plastic bag) separates the super-tiny particles of bentonite between the almost-as-tiny particles of ball clay, that new powder will easily mix with water. And it fires to a tan-buff stoneware at cone 6 so it won't change the fired appearance of most buff or brown cone 6 stoneware bodies.

Tuesday 9th April 2019

GA6A Alberta Slip base using Frit 3124, 3249 and 3195 on dark body

GA6A Alberta Slip base using Frit 3124, 3249 and 3195 on dark body

The body is dark brown burning Plainsman M390 (cone 6). The amber colored glaze is 80% Alberta Slip (raw:calcine mix) with 20% of each frit. The white engobe on the inside of two of the mugs is L3954A (those mugs are glazed inside using transparent G2926B). The Alberta Slip amber gloss glaze produces an ultra-gloss surface of high quality on mugs 2 and 3 (Frit 3249 and 3195). On the outside we see it this glaze on the white slip until midway down, then on the bare red clay. The amber glaze on the first mug (with Frit 3124) has a pebbly surface. These are fired using a drop-and-soak firing schedule. Some caution is required with the 3249 version, it has low thermal expansion (that is good on bodies that normally craze glazes, but risks shivering on ones that do not).

Monday 8th April 2019

Buff M340 stoneware mug with natural slip glazes

Inside is GR6-A (Ravenscrag Slip with 20% Ferro Frit 3134). Outside GA6-B (Alberta Slip with 20% Ferro Frit 3195). Cone 6 drop-and-hold PLC6DS firing schedule. By Tony Hansen.

Wednesday 3rd April 2019

The matteness this glaze develops is dependant on the cooling rate

The matteness this glaze develops is dependant on the cooling rate

This is the G2934Y matte cone 6 recipe with a red stain (Mason 6021). The one on the left was fired using the C6DHSC slow-cool schedule. The one on the right was fired using the drop-and-soak PLC6DS schedule. The only difference in the two schedules is what happens after 2100F on the way down (the slow-cool drops at 150F/hr and the other free-falls). For this glaze, the fast cool is much better, producing a silky pleasant surface rather than a dry matte.

Wednesday 20th March 2019

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