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About neilestrick

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    Neil Estrick

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    Grayslake, IL

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  1. What are cone temperatures

    General purpose digital heating controllers used for industrial heating processes only look at temperature. But the digital kiln controllers built by Orton and Bartlett (and others), which are made to be used on kilns and have cone firing settings, do figure in heatwork. That's why we use them instead of inexpensive general purpose controllers. Are they as accurate as cones? No, but they are pretty darn close and with proper calibration they can be quite accurate, and are more than accurate enough for 99% of what potters do. Digital electric kilns have a lot of fail safes, and are safer than the old manual kilns. Gas kilns are an entirely different beast, and should never be fired unattended IMO. Ultimately, you must be the one to make sure any type of kiln has shut off when it was supposed to. Manufacturers have told me that the electrical system in the kiln will fry out before the kiln bricks can melt down, but that doesn't mean you won't do considerable damage to your kiln before it gets to that point. Do you need to use cones in every firing? That's up to you. I haven't used cones in my last 2500 firings. I don't see the point in having a digital controller if I still need to mess with cones. If the kiln under-fires, the cones will tell me by how much, but they won't prevent it. Same for over-firing (under-firing is much, much more common). I know my glazes well enough that I can tell if they're under-fired, and I keep up on kiln maintenance, so I don't usually have any problems.
  2. Dipping Pots into glaze

    If you're getting drips and puddles that are so thick that they crack I'd say you need to thin out your glaze more. In my studio, we dip for a count of 6 to get the proper application thickness.
  3. Wadding could have steam explosions just like any other clay, so a preheat would be handy to dry it out.
  4. Kiln lid not flush...

    Those 3 position latches are worthless, IMO. I've never seen one that actually holds the lid closed all the way. That said, it may not be the cause of the problem. With single zone kilns (1 thermocouple), you have to be very careful about how you load the kiln. Pack looser in the bottom and top, tighter in the middle, and don't put a really short shelf at the very top.
  5. Mishima! cover you leather hard piece with wax resist, draw through the wax with a needle tool, fill in the lines with underglaze and wipe off the excess. You can also fill in areas with underglaze before doing the wax and line work.
  6. Plaster clay

    Makes sense. Non-talc low fire bodies used calcium, which the plaster would supply.
  7. Cone 5 Clay Bodies Fired To Cone 6

    If it bloats at 6, I would get a different clay. Many glazes need to go up to 6 to work well, so it will be limiting to be stuck at 5. But if you really want to make it work, I would start with a 10 minute hold and increase by 10 minute increments each firing. It'll take a few firings to figure it out. Put some cones in every time to see where you're actually getting. It could be that it works at 5 3/4, but bloats at 6.
  8. Bloaty Mc-Bloatface

    I agree with everyone else that it's just going too hot. Get rid of the hold, for starters. You're going to 6+ with it. Also, there's absolutely no benefit to an 8-12 hour preheat unless your pots are really wet, or really thick. If they are bone dry you can skip that first segment altogether. If they're a tiny bit wet, a 2-3 hour preheat will do it. If you just trimmed them, 6-8 hours will do the job.
  9. Cone 5 Clay Bodies Fired To Cone 6

    I would first try getting rid of the soak at cone 6. You're just adding heat work there, getting to 6+.
  10. The Starter Wheel

    Out of those three I would definitely go with the Pacifica.
  11. Highwater clay users

    Having been a production manager at a clay company, the only thing I can think of that could have messed it up in the way your are describing is if maybe they put in too much bentonite, assuming there is any in your clay. It wold explain it behaving oddly, and taking so long to dry, since it would hold a lot more water than normal. That said, I would expect the production line to notice if all of a sudden the clay required a dramatically different amount of water in the batch, or if the batch was dramatically softer with the typical amount of water. Of course, there's also the possibility that they do know what happened, but are trying to sell it anyway. That, however, I would not expect. It would be very bad PR, and I tend to think Highwater is more ethical than that. Some clays get really sloppy when they're even a little bit too wet, and take a lot longer to dry out than one would expect, especially if the weather is humid and the clay has lot of plasticizers. I'm hoping that's all that's going on here.
  12. Pitting and pinholing

    Did you mix this from dry? It almost looks like it needs to be sieved. I checked out the pieces on your web site, and on those the glaze appears to be thicker and glossier. I'm voting for this one being underfired, and the glaze applied too thin.
  13. Pitting and pinholing

    Any chance you can post a closeup pic of the pinholes?
  14. Highwater clay users

    I would bet on human error before a materials problem. If it's just too wet, then their production crew wasn't paying attention to what they're doing, and probably just put too much water in it. Slice it up and dry it out and it'll work fine. This happens with every supplier, especially if they have new crew members, or the production manager isn't doing his/her job.
  15. Pitting and pinholing

    This doesn't appear to be nearly as glossy as the image on the Amaco website. Yours looks underfired by comparison. Have you confirmed the accuracy of your controller by putting cones in the kiln?