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About neilestrick

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    Neil Estrick

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    Grayslake, IL

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  1. Table top fountain design

    I'm not a big fan of running the cord out the bottom and trying to seal the hole with silicone or anything else. It will fail and some point. All it takes is a pull on the cord to make a leak. I've done several where the bottom vessel had a lid, and as the water cascaded down it went through holes in the lid. These were large fountains (3-4 feet tall) that were meant to be outdoors, so the lid kept leaves and critters out of the water. The cord went out of a notch between the lid and bottom vessel.
  2. Raku Questions

    We always fire little stuff or small flat things on a soft brick or piece of kiln shelf and just pull the whole brick or shelf piece.
  3. Genesis Controller

    I love my Genesis! I'm also testing their mobile app. It's just for monitoring the firing, not programming, but that's a good thing-I don't really want my kiln to get hacked. At some point they'll have alerts to your phone if the controller puts up an error code. The best thing about the Genesis is how easy it is to do custom programs. You can see the whole program on the screen at once, instead of just one step at a time, and you can change any part of it without having to scroll through the entire program. You can also do a lot more steps and store a lot more programs, and you can put a name to each program, instead of just a number. Touch screens with wi-fi are the biggest change to happen to kiln controllers in 20+ years. It's a cheap upgrade when you buy the kiln ($125 with L&L, not sure what it is with ConeArt), especially if you math it out over the 20 year life of the kiln. They'll be standard equipment in a couple of years, and buying it as a replacement later will cost you $300.
  4. Homemade Underglaze Trouble

    Underglazes are the one thing where I think it's well worth the money to buy a commercial product. They can go on at any stage- wet, leather hard, bone dry, bisque- they brush on nicely, and generally work great. Many brands are formulating them to work at cone 6, and you can find any color you want. There's always a little testing involved to see how your particular overglaze will affect the color, but that would be true of any homemade underglaze, too. If you watch for sales, you can get commercial underglazes for as little as $5 a pint and they often need to be thinned down making them even cheaper. They are far more versatile than any homemade underglaze.
  5. Raku Proposal For School

    Any time you open the can before it has cooled enough, you risk the gasses inside re-igniting from the inrush of oxygen. Always let it cool until you can take it off without gloves. I've seen soe impressive fireballs come out of raku cans, and caught one in the face once when I was an undergrad.
  6. Recommended electric potter's wheel

    When the whispers first came out you could turn them on full speed and grab the wheel head and stop it. I don't know if they're still like that or not.
  7. Raku Proposal For School

    Yes and no. The person pulling is getting the direct heat of the kiln, so they need to be bundled well. Especially if it's the type where you have to completely open the kiln to get to the pots. The person operating the can is only getting the heat of the pot and the small amount of combustible material, however that is a dangerous situation, too. The more bundling for everyone involved, the better.
  8. Slows down when I center

    Often when the belt is slipping you can grab the wheel head and stop it from spinning. Be careful doing, that, though. You don't want to hurt your hands. Do it at somewhat slow speed. Also when it slips during centering it won't necessarily be an even slippage- it'll be a little jerky. If the belt isn't fully seated on the bearing, then there may not be enough friction for the belt to hold, and it'll slip.
  9. Slows down when I center

    Is the wheel slowing because the belt is slipping or because the motor is slowing down under the load? Those are two separate issues. if the belt is slipping because it's not full seated on the bearing, then the new bearing should fix the problem. It could also be a belt tension issue. Is there a way to tighten the belt? Most wheels have a spring mechanism where the motor attaches, that can be adjusted to put more or less tension on the belt. But if the motor is bogging down, then it's under-powered. Is it happening only with larger amounts of clay? The horsepower rating doesn't mean much. The 1/4hp Soldner can center as much as a Skutt 1/3hp, which can center as much as a Brent 1hp. The controller and pedal have a lot to do with how the power is put to use, as well as the type of motor.
  10. Upcoming 300th Firing - Kiln Repairs

    Yes, but small, like the width of a pencil. You're obviously more adept than you give yourself credit for. I see a lot of 8ga type K's that have been bent or broken, and they're pretty tough. You've given me a mental picture of you dancing about your studio with a kiln shelf, like Fred Astaire with a hat rack.
  11. The truth about crazing

    I've found that if you add silica and kaolin in equal parts, the Si:Al ratio will stay about the same with most glazes, whereas if you just add one of them it will change.
  12. Recommended electric potter's wheel

    I think you mean direct drive electric vs belt drive? Both can work well or work poorly. It depends on the motor, controller, engineering, etc. The Shimpo whisper series are direct drive, but they use motors that have very poor torque. There used to be a wheel on the market called the Max, and it was crazy powerful. It felt different than a belt drive, though- took some getting used to. Belt drive has been the standard in US wheels for a long time. The old Shimpo wheels were cone drive, they had lots of power. I think Shimpo has sacrificed torque for silence in the whisper series. Alpine made a wheel a long time ago that was direct drive, but it had a gearbox or drive shaft of some sort. The supposedly ran well.
  13. Upcoming 300th Firing - Kiln Repairs

    Type S are two very thin wires run through a ceramic sheath that's really not much thicker than a pencil. Very easy to break it it you hit it with a shelf. Type K are accurate and durable enough for most applications, and cheap to replace. That's why they're standard in kilns here.
  14. Upcoming 300th Firing - Kiln Repairs

    @glazenerd how long have yours lasted? Breakage is a very real issue. I just worked on 4 kilns yesterday that have type S, and replaced the thermocouple on 2 of them due to breakage. They are just so stinkin' thin that it takes very little contact to break them. And that was in a very small professional studio with only 3 people using the kilns. I know I couldn't get through 2000 firings without breakage unless I pulled the thermocouples out of the kiln each time I loaded and unloaded. It's the same thing with APM elements. They last a really long time, but if you get a glob of glaze on them they're done. For most people it's not worth the risk. I definitely recommend type S to some of my customers, though, because they ned the durability and accuracy for higher temps.
  15. Recommended electric potter's wheel

    The big splash pan on Thomas Stuart/Skutt or Bailey keep the studio a lot cleaner. The 1/3hp TS/Skutt is plenty of power, they have a tone of torque and great controllers. I'm not a big fan of the pedal used on Speedball wheels- it feels really cheap. That said, you get used to whatever you have. Figure that your next wheel will last 20+ years, so get the one you really want.