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About susieblue

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    Advanced Member
  • Birthday February 26

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  • Gender
  • Location
    Deep River, CT
  • Interests
    Way too many interests to list them all...aside from pottery; silversmithing, painting, drawing, gardening, kayaking, hiking, camping, sewing, and home improvement (my "real job" is Commercial Interior Design).

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  1. susieblue

    learning to use underglaze

    Hello Howdy, A lot depends on what type of effects you want. One recommendation: It's easier to paint your underglazes on greenware or bisque ware, then fire and apply clear glaze after the underglaze has set. This helps to avoid bleeding and movement of the underglazes.If you are firing to cone 6 make sure the underglazes you use are rated for that. Some will lose color at higher temps. . Ceramic Arts Network (here) has lots of freebies on glazing techniques. I would start by looking up majolica techniques. Linda Arbuckle has some video clips and books out there. Check also online for books and videos on glazing techniques(YouTube is usually helpful). For books and DVDs read the reviews or previews of content to see if there is good info on underglaze use. UG is used a lot for low fire work so don't forget to check the info on low fire glazing as well. It's pretty straightforward stuff to use. It can be applied heavily for more opaque application or used thinly for a more watercolor-like result...and anything in between. Happy glazing.
  2. Thanks. The clay is Miller 45 Buff. I understand that the porosity of the bisque is the issue and I am wondering how to circumvent that without having to fully vitrify the clay first. I am going to test the wetting technique tonite but was hoping someone here might have run into this problem, or was aware of it, and had a workaround. Thanks..
  3. I would have majored in ceramics instead of graphics and interior design. I was being practical. I thought, but after having left clay behind for about 25 years I regret not having it in my life at that time. I work full time and spend just about every minute of my free time in my basement studio. I always wonder where I could have gone with the knowledge and experience I would have gained not to mention the passion I have for it. I think love clay more than people as I am more willing and motivated to spend time alone with my wheel. (Fortunately my friends understand.) Clay is my zen thing. Who know where our journeys may have taken us, though. I could have ended up a starving artist relying on the kindness of others to help me get by or I could have been the next [insert your favorite famous potter here].
  4. I have been experimenting with black iron oxide wash lately. The first time I tried it I used a cone 6 fired, unglazed clay (Miller 45 Buff) and got a nice clean wipe with the wash remaining in the crevices and achieved an even tone over the rest of the piece. When I tried it on bisque ware (05) it was another story. No matter how much I scrubbed I ended up with a blotchy wash on the flat surfaces. I am wondering if there is a trick to working with washes on bisque that I am missing. I thought about wetting the piece first and/or making the wash thinner perhaps. I don't want to have to take up precious space in a glaze firing to vitrify the pieces before I can apply the wash. Wondering if anyone has experienced this problem and how you resolved it. Thank you.
  5. Here are a couple of examples. The leaves are among the few that survived the attempt to fire with bead racks. They were on 6" wires which sagged and clumped together. (there were about 40 of these to start. It was a sad kiln opening. I'll admit I didn't know to put ones outside ot the posts to balance the wires so that may have been why it happened. The lentil beads are definitely heavier than that and I am planning to make some larger ones as Holiday ornaments.
  6. Looking for suggestions for glaze firing heavy beads and ornaments. I have a lot of them and using the standard bead trees/racks they will sag for sure. I have seen one option on YouTube from "Janice the Potter" who uses an extrusion with high fire 17g kanthal wire loops to fire her pendants. I am considering something like this (would have to slab build multiples of them since I don't have an extruder). I have also considered using stilt posts in firebrick/clay base made from heavy gauge nichrome/kanthal but am concerned it will sag and tip over at Cone 5/6. Has anyone had experience with this and what do you use? Thanks.
  7. susieblue

    L&l Vs Skutt

    Thanks for all the great responses. Looks like my first instinct was right on. L&L it is. Thank you.
  8. susieblue

    L&l Vs Skutt

    I am looking into buying a new kiln and have narrowed it down to two models that can work for my purposes, The Easy-Fire 23s by L&L or the Skutt KM1018. Both are the same price with the accompanying furniture kits. Both would be supplied with their standard model controllers. Dyna-trol vs Kilnmaster. I have a 60amp breaker and my electrician brother is wiring a new outlet for me (the old kiln was hardwired). At first I thought the L&L was a shoe-in because of the element holders but now I see that Skutt has their own rebuttal to this claiming that the heat distribution in their kilns is better because it isn't limited by the kiln element holders https://skutt.com/features/pdf/L%20_L%20response.pdf. I really am not sure what to think. I realize that some of it is simply subjective but not being able to actually experience these models first-hand I am at the mercy of the oh-so-fickle internet. Are there more linear feet of coils in a Skutt? Are the element holders of an L&L a help or a hinderance? are there other glaring differences I should know about? I would appreciate any insights potters here may have regarding these two models, especially those who have experienced both manufacturers' (pref recent) products. Thank you.
  9. susieblue

    Element Replacement...& Other Parts?

    Thanks everyone. I tested the elements and they seem to be ok. I did, however find out the the wiring was brittle and I think that may have been the issue. One of the terminals just snapped right off when I removed the panel. I got some high temp wire and terminals and replaced the connections from the elements to the control box as well as replacing the bus bars with wires. Hoping that does the trick. I still have to test fire to be sure but the elements are heating up. I did call Paragon to ask a number of questions and found out that the infinite switches they have now can be used on the old Duncan kilns; they just have to be installed upside down. I didn't bother to order any additional parts. I figure I'll try to see if this works first.
  10. Hi Everyone, Looks like my old kiln-sitter Duncan DK1020-2 is in need of new elements (about 90% sure of this) and I am eager to replace them since, of course, I am on a deadline. I placed a call to Paragon already with a couple questions but it's the end of the day and i doubt I'll hear back til tomorrow...or later. I admit it's my first foray into kiln repair, but I am pretty handy and my boyfriend is bringing his multimeter over so i have faith between the two of us we can handle this; especially given all the videos and the manual information at hand. Here's my question: As I am going to be replacing all of the elements at this point are there other parts it is advisable to test and/or replace as well since I'm doing this? All the parts appear to be the original ones (from the 1970s/early 80s, yikes). Wondering if i should also plan to replace the power relays, infinite switch or anything else. Many thanks.
  11. Thanks. I found the "Paragon Switch Operated Ceramic Kiln Instruction and Service Manual" online. It said the circuit was the problem. I lucked out that Bro finished with a client early so I had him replace it today He upgraded it to a 60 amp. We found out the amperage info we had followed in the original manual was incorrectly listed. On the the kiln it said min 45 amps but the book said 40. Bro says that local electric company can drop power supply to neighborhoods by 10% without notifying anyone. He suspects it fired successfully at peak when the local voltage was a little higher but when dropped became too much strain on the circuit for a suspended period. It's been firing for hours now and I'm praying that it hits temp. I transitioned to cone 5/6 about a year ago and have only run it this high about 4 or 5 times before. Still seems slow; possibly because I typically fire overnight I just haven't figured out the timing yet. Thinking I may end up having to replace the elements as well.
  12. Eek!!! I am supposed to be turning my work into the gallery this coming week but am having a big problem with my manual kiln (Duncan DK1020-2). It keeps tripping the breaker partway through the firing. I have successfully fired this kiln several times at cones 5/6 and my brother, the electrician, hardwired the kiln and the breaker so I know the amperage is correct. Here's the series of events as it happened: Attempt #1: I first loaded up the kiln on Wednesday night, put a cone 6 cone in the sitter and fired it up. When I checked it Thursday the sitter rod had not dropped and the kiln had tripped the breaker. In my haste had forgotten to put my witness cones in the kiln so I had no visual cues though the peepholes except my flashlight view of the glazed pieces themselves which i could tell had reached a certain level of maturity but were not quite there (cone 5 would have been acceptable). It was too hot to open the kiln and I was on a tight deadline so I opened the controller box to check the wiring. One of the connectors to the top relay popped out immediately; after checking the rest of the wiring which, to my layman's eye appeared okay, I assumed it was that the connector was loose so reattached it and reassembled the box. In the process, of course, I could not avoid having the the kiln sitter cone fall out inside the kiln. Attempt #2: In trying to keep to my schedule I determined (by guesstimate) the rate my kiln had been heating, set the temp to high and set the timer for about 6 hours; overriding the kiln sitter by taping the rod to hold the switch open. When I checked it the next day it had shut off by the timer and had not tripped the breaker. Once it had cooled and I opened it I could tell the glazes were almost there and in my estimation the kiln had reached to about cone 4 before it quit.I assumed (and hoped) I had just failed to correctly estimate the time. Since some items looked okay I figured I would remove the ones I was happy with and begin assembly to save time (they are two part birdhouses) while refiring the rest of them. After unloading it was apparent the the liner glaze had not matured so I could not salvage any of them without re-firing the lot. I took the opportunity to retouch the the glazes on a few of them. Attempt #3: Once again I loaded everything, putting in my witness cones and this time a cone 5 sitter cone and tried again. I stayed up as late as I could to keep an eye on it and it appeared to be firing though it seemed to heat a bit slower than it should. When went to bed at 1 am it had reached about 1000 degrees; I prayed it would make it through okay. Apparently I must have used up my favors with the kiln gods because when I awoke the kiln had once again tripped the breaker and I had an incomplete firing. The retouched glazes had not even started to melt.I am at my wits end since intake is this week at the gallery and they are expecting 20 birdhouses from me. I am going to have to take time off from my "real" job to photograph the pieces now since Daylight Savings is ending tonight and I'll have no daylight by the time I get home after work. This is assuming I can repair the kiln myself this weekend. Can anyone tell me how to fix this or guide me to a site/video where i can find the answer. I have looked online but have not found this exact issue. Usually a breaker trip happens immediately if there is a short according to what i have read but maybe they're wrong? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thank you.
  13. susieblue

    Help! I Can't Center Anymore!

    I may be a little late in the game here but if I can volunteer my 2 cents: I had similar issues at one point. I thought had it down then, suddenly, it wasn't working for me. Ditto to many of the above comments. I have had hard spots in my clay from under wedging (who actually likes to wedge, anyhow, lol). That definitely can cause torquing as well as uneven walls...and working with hard clay is really difficult as well. Closing your eyes and focusing on what you feel in the clay can sometimes provide answers, too. My advice: Make sure you are not moving your hands too fast (or the wheel too slow) and that you are maintaining steady pressure. That is what I find tends to give me the torque twist. Also, make sure when you take your hands away to release the tension gradually and remove your hands carefully. Let us know how you make out. If others come to the community looking for answers to similar problems they like to know what helped.
  14. susieblue

    New Studio: Venting Budget Options

    Hi Mouton, While it is possible to forego a ventilation system with an electric kiln, it's probably best to play it safe. I have an unvented cone 8 electric toploader in my basement and it does give off some smelly fumes, both bisque and glaze firing. I try to avoid spending time down there while it is firing. I'm not sure I would choose to inhale the fumes from a city street on a regular basis. You also want to keep in mind that venting is supposed to extend the life of your elements which are not terribly cheap to replace. If you are firing only on very rare occasions then maybe you don't really need it but if you plan to do so on any kind of regular basis you'll want to consider a vent system. Downdrafts are probably the most efficient means of venting an electric kiln. I have recently had the good fortune to acquire a motor from a brand new L&L vent system for free (ventilation was already accommodated in an engineer's building plan and the motor became redundant). Originally I had planned to buy an in-line fan rated for the CFM I need (Although a squirrel-cage one would have worked as well). The one item I could not replicate - though others have-was plenum cup with spring and post, which I purchased ($50) from The Ceramics Shop along with an Amazon purchase of some semi-rigid 3" aluminum ducting. I will attach a reducer and dryer hose to connect the exhaust end to my dryer vent. Here's a couple of links to homemade downdraft vents: http://www.handspiral.com/kiln_vent. https://www.bluewillowstudio.net/get-your-hands-dirty/to-vent-or-not-to-vent Good luck.

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