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Posts posted by nancylee

  1. On 10/22/2018 at 2:35 PM, Rex Johnson said:

    I've done a couple saggar experiments using my gas kilns and in the end it's a very messy situation. Hardly worth the effort.

    In an electric kiln there's more to loose...

    Best bet if you have the space make a simple outdoor kiln just for saggar as Marcia suggests.

    I use a cut down (12" trimmed off the top) of a 50 gallon drum, brick line bottom, and a hole for the burner. I use a Red Dragon weedburner and a propane tank.

    For the lid,  top of the barrel with a 5" hole for a flue. Lined with 2" of fiber blanket wired on with high temp wire and ceramic buttons, and done.

    Simple easy. Reaches temp in two hours going slow to save your saggars. I just use red clay pots as saggars.

    Saggars make a lot smoke and o-zone. You want it outside and down wind from your home.


    Wow!! That’s cool! I was thinking of wood if I used a barrel but I need to get a glue cut in the top of a barrel I have. Thanks,


  2. On 10/19/2018 at 10:12 PM, Marcia Selsor said:

     I have instructions for making raku kilns. https://www.marciaselsorstudio.com/raku--latex-resist---making-raku-kilns.ht     I have a dvd from Acers/CAD regarding the potential firings of a raku kiln including: obvert, sagar and foil sagger firings. I enjoy the immediacy of the raku kilns and how many ways it can be used.https://ceramicartsnetwork.org/shop/raku-firing-with-marcia-selsor/  there are links on my website that have videos from this dvd.


    Thank you for this!!! 


  3. 21 minutes ago, Mark C. said:

    Just get a gas raku kiln-

    Electric raku kiln will be short lived animal .

    Elements do not like reduction-period.

    what I do know is that electric is not a good choice for raku kiln.


    21 minutes ago, Mark C. said:

    Just get a gas raku kiln-

    Electric raku kiln will be short lived animal .

    Elements do not like reduction-period.

    what I do know is that electric is not a good choice for raku kiln.

    Thanks for the advice. I will do that. 


  4. Hi,

    Two questions, please:

    - can I do a saggar in my regular electric kiln? I’m in a bind and can’t get it done at the studios I usually go to. AND

    - has anyone tried the “top hat” electeic raku kilns? I’m looking to buy my own so I don’t have to depend on anyone else, cause that always screws me up. I already have a Skutt kiln and the electric is in place already. 

    Thanks much,


  5. 29 minutes ago, Callie Beller Diesel said:

    In terms of clay choices, if it's rated for cone ten, it will work, but it depends more on what effects you're trying to achieve.  Some people prefer to use more porcelain, or porcelaneous clays, because they'll sometimes flash pink and yellow, depending on the firing cycle, placement in kiln, etc, etc. They can also lean towards the grey or white side of the spectrum if they get hit with more soda, and varying degrees of reduction.

    Others prefer stonewares for rich, darker surfaces with lots of soda build up, or for a toastier flashing palette.

    Flashing slips containing things like small quantities of red art, or ingredients like Helmer kaolin or tile 6 are often used if you don't have a specific clay body to hand, or for contrast. Ask whoever you're firing with how heavy of a soda build up they want, and ask what effects they're trying to go for. See what they recommend for  materials.


    Thank you, Callie!! I like the oranges, which I assume are the "toastier" side, and I like the more rough or pitted look, so I assume that is the stoneware for me!! Thanks! 

  6. I had cracked handles of the time with B mix. I switched to other stoneware clays and haven't had any issues, knock wood. Maybe your clay is tempermental?

    I attach handles when the mug is pretty Wet. I trim kind of wet, too, but even when the piece is drier and I’m using wetter handles, they havent cracked. I don’t use magic water or slip. I just really scratch the heck out of the clay and then put water on it. I really press the two pieces together! Is easy, no fuss and works.

    Good luck!

  7. On 9/27/2018 at 1:28 PM, Marcia Selsor said:

    Building a catenary arch support isn't difficult. Figure the size you need ( base it around the shelf size you'll be using). Get a chain , mark the dimensions height and width and nail the chain to reach those dimensions. Spray paint 3 pieces of plywood. cut it out with a jigsaw. Build it well. install on site raised on shims  that afterwards it will drop the form and slide it out of the form.



    Thank You for all that advice! I can see I have a lot to learn before attempting building anything!


    On 9/27/2018 at 1:28 PM, Marcia Selsor said:

    Building a catenary arch support isn't difficult. Figure the size you need ( base it around the shelf size you'll be using). Get a chain , mark the dimensions height and width and nail the chain to reach those dimensions. Spray paint 3 pieces of plywood. cut it out with a jigsaw. Build it well. install on site raised on shims  that afterwards it will drop the form and slide it out of the form.




  8. On 9/27/2018 at 8:50 PM, preeta said:

    Nancy i agree. attend a few firings before you get a feel for what you want. 

    everyone i've noticed does their firing differently.  before going for a firing see if you can meet and talk to some of the people who have fired in the kiln. 

    there is the book knowledge and then there is the actual experience.  keep the book knowledge for yourself but go by any guidance (from solid sources) you get from the soda fires you will attend. 

    forget how you want your wares to look. just do some testing intially. do some glazed, unglazed and slip look. 

    i was all gungho in the beginning. until i actually took part in the firing i didnt understand it. i had lots of book knowledge..  

    just go and have fun. talk to the folks around you. actually sign up to help during the firing. you will learn so much from the people around you. look at their pots. trying nothing where they put things in the kiln (so help with loading) so you can understand what flames touching - got soda, too much soda, etc looks like. 

    soda is my favourite firing. all my own favourite pots that i made came out of the soda kiln. bringle blue  and yellow slips were my favourite with colour, flashing slips and honey lustre glaze (i think Pete Pinelle's recipe but not sure) .

    By the way the best way to approach this IMHO is to learn how to make work that will look the  best in a soda fire. i've only done gas soda firing, not wood soda fire.  ive dont wood salt and just wood firing and i make my wares different for both the fires. i put all my books away and stopped looking at others work and focused more on how other people's stuff came out of the kiln .

    you will be surprised how much work soda firings are and how HOT it can be esp. when you are not spraying in the cool of the night. 


    Thank you for that advice. I’m going to a soda fire next month! I’m very excited! 

    Is there a particular clay 10 clay type I should get for soda fire?


  9. 2 hours ago, Magnolia Mud Research said:

    The best soda firing book I have read is "Soda Glazing" by Ruthanne Tudball, University Pennsylvania Press, 2001 ISBN:0-8122-1571-0 ( http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/1934.html ), and yes,  I have -- and read -- Gail Nichols' dissertation and her more recent book --   
    Soda, Clay and Fire -- along with literature and books on soda firing by other authors.  Nichols was chasing a particular point of view for a PhD. and therefore, she focused on how to achieve a single interesting, and not necessarily easy to achieve, effect.  Tudball provides  a wider coverage of the soda firing genre.  

    Due to kiln limitations (a standard updraft soft brick natural gas reduction kiln) I use various unsaturated aqueous solutions containing sodium ions (for example: borax, soda ash, TSP. … ) as a selective spray coating on bisque ware (think spraying glazes) of various clay bodies fired to at temperatures from cone 5 to cone 11.  A general buff stoneware, treated with the spray, will show flashing effects similar to soda firing when fired in normal gas reduction firing conditions. I believe the technique will work at cone 3, but I have not tried it. [I mention cone 3 because I know our home-made fiber Raku kiln that will fire to cone 3+. Therefore, with some tweaking, a small well built fiber 'Raku' type reduction cone 3 kiln could be feasible. Also because cone 3 soda/salt firing is mentioned as a firing target for commercial ware in an JACerS article from the mid-30's].  This aqueous solution application technique puts the sodium specie where you want the effect to be  and avoids wasting reagents on the kiln and "other" objects in the firing.  Mixing baking soda powder with acrylic medium and painting the mixture on bisque ware will also produce a soda glazing effect.  Thickness of the baking soda can do nothing (very thin) or produce a glob of ugly, and maybe runny, glass (too thick).  [I abandoned  this application approach before finding 'just right'].  The experiments were fun, and did no damage to the gas kiln.  If conducted carefully, experiments with a soda aqueous solution application technique might also be conducted in an electric kiln; I have no idea what the color effects would be in a truly oxidizing environment. 



    Thank you for all of this information! I have a lot to learn and read about! Exciting technique! I can't wait to learn!  

  10. 7 hours ago, neilestrick said:

    I highly recommend taking part in a few firings before going full bore into doing it yourself. Building and firing a gas kiln takes a certain amount of experience and knowledge, not to mention time and money. Find someone near you that has a soda or salt kiln and see if you can assist in their next firing. If and when you decide to actually build your own kiln, search the forums here for information on building a gas kiln. There are a lot of zoning rules and technical info to research before you begin. You don't have to build something very big, a small box kiln would work very well, but you'll still spend a couple thousand dollars on bricks and burners.

    Thanks, Neil. I’m not building anything now, and I found someone who,does soda firings and I’m going to go participate? If I love it, I do have room to build one - i didnt realize how expensive it would be!

  11. 8 hours ago, Mark C. said:

    (And one last question - what is this big metal thing these people use to build a soda kiln? )

    I assume what you are calling metal is the plywood form the kiln is made from. This is a catenary arch form-you hang a small chain and trace the arch onto plywood and cut that out x two and that makes the ends that one covers with  more plywood. This is the form which the bricks are laid against . Just get a copy of any kiln building book like Lens kiln book -This will explain what you are seeing.

    Yes, I guess it is wood! Thank you! I’ll check out the book. 

  12. Hi all,

    I came across the work of Gail Nichols and other potters like Tom Coleman and fell in love! I love the oranges, and the different color combos. I know a few things I have been able to pick up - that Gail’s technique is tough on kilns and not done too frequently, and that flashing slips are used in some soda firings, but before I buy Gail’s  book, I think I need to understand soda firing better.

    I searched here and came up with a bit, but not much, so are there any good resources for beginners to learn? Basic questions: to get the variety of colors and kind of cratered surface like Gail and Coleman get, are different slips put on, or does the fire and soda do that? So e potters have dark spots or geometric shapes on the surface - are they painted on with glazes?  I understand you can use glazes with soda firings - are they the same as cone 10 reduction glazes? 

    And one last question - what is this big metal thing these people use to build a soda kiln? (Caution for office dwellers - loud music on this video.)

    thank you for any help for an inttigued beginner!





  13. On 9/11/2018 at 6:05 PM, kristinanoel said:

    Hi NancyLee - 

    I feel you! I started taking classes at my local community college two years ago, and had a devil of a time learning to center (it sucks that you can't really do anything on the wheel without that skill, and it's the hardest thing to learn!). It was especially fun being around all these college kids saying it took them SO LONG (3 days) to learn to center when I was on 5 months and counting. :) 

    I too, had a wheel at home and was super frustrated with making the same mistakes, more time didn't seem to help because i didn't know what to do to make my practice progressively more effective.

    I ended up paying for a couple of coaching lessons - I found a local for profit studio, the kind that offers 4-6 week courses and 'sip and throw' nights (a glass of wine and a lesson) and got two 1-1 sessions with someone working directly with me, helping me figure out how to move forward. I ended up learning an alternative way of holding my hands, figured out that I was much more successful with the wheel spinning clockwise (went from 1-2 out of 10 successes to 7-8 out of 10 success), and was able to make significant progress in developing a means of practicing.

    In retropsect it makes so much sense, people have coaches for sports or music or acting, of course you need someone to adapt the one-size-fits-all resources available to your specific circumstances and help you find modifications that work for you.

    For any experienced potters or teachers out there looking for a way to 'give back' - consider offering coaching lessons! We beginners need you! 


    Thanks for sharing your struggles! I have paid for coaching. I have paid for group lessons, and private lessons, but at a certain weight of clay, it always falls apart. And sometimes falls apart at a lesser weight of clay. I have been throwing regularly, and that seems to help.


  14. On 9/9/2018 at 9:25 AM, C.Banks said:

    I've been frustrated more than I care to admit. People have asked me if I throw. I have to admit - oh yes, I've thrown clay.

    I'm unable to add much more than is already offered here. I've had to adopt some unorthodox methods that work for me.

    The biggest thing that moved me to a place approaching confidence was accepting a small wobble and just geting on with the process. I got out of my own way and 'we' came to a compromise.

    The other big thing was wheel speed. I was always taught to center clay as fast as the wheel would go. One winter I had the opportunity to work on an old Estrin. The flywheel encouraged me to work with a rythmic wheel speed. Now I rarely use a wheel a full speed and if I'm struggling chances are my wheel is turning too quickly.



    Thanks! I find that too. If I have the wheel too fast, the clay just knocks me around. 

  15. On 9/13/2018 at 9:58 AM, Pres said:

    Nancylee, when I first took ceramics in college, it was in a Summer course of 12 weeks. We were allowed to post grade for the course by either handbuilding or throwing. The first time I sat on the wheel and tried to wrestle the clay into the center, it was so frustrating, but something about it appealed to me. I decided that I needed to at least master some of the wheel to determine whether I liked it or not. The next 9 weeks were spent in the studio centering, and attempting to make a pot. I din not keep a thing, cutting all in half to check the thickness and evenness of the form. Then the 10th week, I kept everything I made, 9 pieces. They were really pretty poor, but taught me what I needed to know. . . I loved the wheel! After that I another class, and improved enough that I could reasonably demonstrate to others without failing at throwing a cylinder.  Doesn't mean that I was all that good, as when I through a bucket of water and 10# of clay onto a professors feet and legs on my first day of transitioning from a motorized kick wheel to a Brent C at Penn State.!

    Several years later, and several grad classes, I was able to tell the students to decide on a form for their throwing project for the semester and I would demonstrate it whether I had ever made one or not.  Never was unable to satisfy their need to stump me.  

    I use the wheel as a tool, and know of others that know how to throw very well, and have given up the wheel to handbuild. It really doesn't matter whether in the end you use it or not, but it gives you one more tool in the box. I have seen folks throw cylinders, and then transform them into the most beautiful of human forms, others that do the same from coll construction or even slabs. Creativity is of the mind, not of the tool. We have come up against that problem in the arts over the years with creativity vs the tool as in the photography struggle, or of late computer art and animation. There is always someone who feels that the righteousness is on the side of the old method, or one that does not use a machine. . . does that even include a slab roller!

    If you feel you want to take a class, and can afford it. . . take one that immerses you in the wheel totally for 9-12 weeks, and drain the teacher dry!

    All in my most humble opinion.




    Thank you Pres, for sharing your experience and wisdom. I have been throwing the last few days, and already see improvements!! I'm going to keep doing it for the next few weeks. Will update! 


  16. On 9/6/2018 at 9:38 AM, Rae Reich said:

    When you push down and sideways, aim the tip of the cone toward the center of the base, not just sideways. That should help keep your base from trying to separate from the wheel, which is where you're losing the "centeredness". (Been there) 

    I see what you are saying. I will try this whenI get home tomorrow. Thank you!


  17. On 9/6/2018 at 10:23 AM, oldlady said:

    nancy, there is a general acceptance of the mound of clay being wide at the base before you start to center.  a gentle slope with a very slight rise.   you can see drawings of this shape on classroom walls all over.  it is not necessary and can lead to problems with gathering all that s;loppy, wet stuff into the center.   

    try using softer clay, a substantial paddle to whack it down with, and gather it from the base so it starts out as a cylinder shape from the beginning.  let your hands surround that bottom for several revolutions of the wheel, force that part into the center and then begin to let it rise into the cone.

    if all goes well, great, if not, use a tapered wooden tool and push it straight down to the wheelhead to remove that sloppy slope so you can get a good grip on the cylindrical center and try again.


    thank you rae, that is a great description,  and yes, we  have all been there.

    Thank you! I will give this a run!

  18. I didnt do the math for 1260C, but I have never heard of green glazes being not food safe. I fire to cone 5/6 and have regularly used green glazes. One combo is cerulean on the bottom layer and celadon froth on top - but it’s runny. Some other choices are Amaco Potter’s Choice and Celadons. A nice combo is Rainforest down with Textured Turquoise above and Rainforest down with Oatmeal above.

    There is a group on Facebook called Amaco cone 5/6 where people share their combinations and tests. They are very nice and generous. 

    Good luck!


  19. 20 hours ago, neilestrick said:

    Raku kilns are fired in oxidation, so no worries about reduction issues. They also don't go very hot, so evenness issues don't really come into play either. The propane vs natural gas issue, while different on paper, doesn't come into play in practice.

    Oh, thanks. I always thought that when we fired in the raku kiln with the propane in class it was reduction. Duh. It’s just a different source of heat. Thanks! 

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