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  1. I think Biglou13 is correct about the slow ramp and "loose" nature of most wood fire wadding is correct. I have done a couple minor preheats on propane just to get a little of the moisture out. My wadding is usually 1/3 fireclay, 1/3 sand, and 1/3 organics (usually sawdust or wheat bran) so there is lots of ways for any moisture to move around. I do make large cone packs from a version of the wadding with much more clay and I let those dry before firing.
  2. Bloaty Mc-Bloatface

    I think ditching the clay is the best option. I had a similar locally-made cone 5/6 buff clay that bloated even worse than yours at cone 6. I was trying out at least 10 other cone 6 clays and did not have any issues with any of them. tried different bisque tricks and it did not help. I stopped using it, but the small amount of it in the mixed trimmings continued to haunt me for months. The clay might have worked at cone 5, but my other clays and glazes were all great at cone 6 and the only advantage of this bloaty clay was that it was a couple cents cheaper per pound. Not worth it.
  3. Wood firing conversations?

    Here is fine. Not much discussion on wood firing on this site, but I look forward to it.
  4. Recommended electric potter's wheel

    I have a VL Whisper and have been using it intensively for about 5 years. Anything over about 5 pounds will slow down a little while centering if the slip runs out. The slow down is minor and if there is enough water it is hardly noticeable. I also center pretty aggressively so this might be even less noticeable to others. I don't recall it slowing down while doing anything other than centering. Even aggressive lifts on 15 pound bowls did not have any problems.
  5. Slip design over chattering?

    Yes, the large "petal" shapes are thin pieces of mostly transparent fish.
  6. Kiln brick question

    This may end up being a great purchase. They look like standard straights (9" x 4.5" x 2.5"). $0.50 per brick is a great deal if they are high-duty or better. Chances are they are super-duty bricks or even higher. I ended up using a mix of high, super, and whatever is even higher than that in my wood kiln. The only downside to higher-temp bricks is some can be very difficult to cut. I used a circular saw with a masonry blade to cut bricks and a regular high-duty brick will cut in just a couple seconds. The really hard bricks could take minutes and eat up a lot of the masonry disk.
  7. What are you putting the mugs on after you cut them off the hump? I have had more even drying if a put them onto a large plaster bat.
  8. Mixing Pugmills

    I have started mixing clays in my small peter pugger (VPM-20) and usually make about a 35 pound batch at a time. It is not quite as simple as just throwing in the powder and water and then making the clay. If I had a mixer (like a solder) I would use it to mix and then send it through the pugger. The pug mill tends to need about 80-90% capacity for it to mix, otherwise it just spins a large ball. The same pointless spinning can occur just from water additions. It takes a while to figure out how to break the spinning and start mixing again. The larger sized peter-puggers might be much more efficient for mixing clays from dry ingredients. Mark, have you used your larger pugger for mixing clays from dry ingredients?
  9. Salt Fired Pieces In Electric Kiln

    Marcia, Thanks. I have only done it twice, so hopefully not too much damage. I plan to refire some of the better pieces in the wood kiln, so I will stop torturing the electric. Jeff
  10. I recently fired my new wood kiln for the first time. Had a few issues (now solved - I think) that caused excessive reduction throughout the firing. The pots came out with almost no flashing despite the extensive use of flashing slips. At the end of the firing we added about a pound of salt for just a little extra shine. Most piece got very minor or no salt effects. Just as a test I have been sticking a small piece or two into the center a bisque firing in my 10 cubic foot electric kiln. The color change is pretty dramatic with a strong shift to oxidized reds and oranges. I am bisque firing to around cone 05. I am also using a down-draft kiln vent throughout the firing. The attached photo (if I get it attached correctly) shows two pots that looked just like the one on the left after the wood firing. The one on the right went through the electric bisque. QUESTION: Is there likely any significant damage to the electric kiln through the introduction of a small (about 2 mugs per firing) amount of slightly salt-glazed pieces in a bisque firing? What temperature is needed to re-volatize the salt enough to possibly cause problems? Thanks, Jeff
  11. Kiln Shelf Warp Question

    Thanks Neil. They seemed too good to be true so I only bought 2. Guess it is time to get some more.
  12. Kiln Shelf Warp Question

    I use usual solid electric kiln shelves (3/4" thick 26" half-round) in my 10 cubic foot kiln typically fired to cone 6. Using three stilts puts the long diameter side with only supports at the ends. They warp almost 1/2" within about 10-12 firings. I then remove the wash, flip, and re-wash. They do flatten back out, but only temporarily on their way to warping the other direction. No cracking from this yet. I recently purchased a couple of the hollow (core-light?) shelves and they have gone almost 10 firing and no warp at all. They are not much more that the solid shelves. Might have to start slowly replace all the solid shelves.
  13. Purchasing any major equipment is a decision unique to each potter. I bought my pug mill for a couple anticipated uses (including recycling scrap) and have found it far more useful that I expected. As Mea noted, it is a great tool for adjusting the softness of clay. I throw some items with soft clay (plates and flower pots) and other with stiffer clay (tall forms and mugs). I just pug a batch (around 35#) for whatever I am planning to throw. The consistent diameter pugs are also very easy to cut into regular lengths to save weighing clay for repetitive forms. Here are some of the other uses for which the pug mill is a great help: 1) Adding things to commercial clays. I was getting a lot of minor warping on my cone 6 commercial bodies, even firing at a good cone 6. I regularly add a couple pounds of fireclay and a couple pounds of sand to each pug mill load and that has perfectly fixed the problem. 2) Mixing clays. I really like the speckling of a commercial Laguna clay, but there is more than I need. I have lots of porcelain, brown and red clays that all play well together. I use at least half the speckled clay and then just add whatever else I feel like. 3) I am now also producing a lot of pots for cone 10 wood firing. It only takes a few minutes to scrape out the pug mill and then I can switch back and forth (about every month) between the regular cone 6 production and cone 10 clays. There are not many commercial clays that do what I want for wood firing, and they can get fairly expensive. I can make my own from powdered ingredients for considerably less (depending on the recipe) and I can make whatever modifications I want. I usually just pug out a load for that day's work and then throw the next day's dry mix and water into the mill. I mix it for a while and then let it sit overnight. The next day it starts all over again. There is definitely something satisfying about mixing your own clay body. 4) Although I don't do this, there is also the potential to use the pug mill as an extruder. Deciding on such a large investment should not be taken lightly. I could not be much happier with my decision, but it would not work for everyone. The nice thing about a good pug mill is that even if it did not work out for you, the resale is very high. I purchased mine at a time where the tax write-off was very helpful. I would definitely think hard about racking up a lot of debt to purchase one.
  14. Peter Pugger posts reconditioned pugmills on their website, but just be aware that it is not regularly updated. I called about one over a year and a half ago (before I ended up buying new) and it had sold 6 months before. I let The company know, but I just checked and it is still listed - 2 years after it was sold. These are really hard to find used. They took my offer of a few hundred off list price and I sent a check. If you are looking for the VPM-20, it is pretty easy to build a heavy-duty rolling table better and cheaper than the one they sell.
  15. Peterpugger Mixers

    I mix a wide rage of stiffness from really soft for throwing plates to pretty stiff for tall vessels and slabs. I need to use the same process to break the vacuum seal regardless of consistency.