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About neilestrick

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    Neil Estrick

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    Grayslake, IL

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  1. neilestrick

    Thinning a Commercial Brush Glaze

    Brushing glazes have a higher water content than dipping glazes. That is part of what makes them flow nicely with a brush, and why you need 3 coats. If you thin a brushing glaze down to where it is fluid enough to dip, you'll have a glaze that has a really high water content compared to a normal dipping glaze. So when you dip it, you won't get as much actual glaze material on the pot as a normal dipping glaze dipped for the same length of time. You can dip longer, but the pot will quickly become saturated by all the extra water. So you'll probably have to dip twice. Your best bet is to only thin is a much as is needed to get it to apply nicely, which may not be as thin as your normal dipping glaze.
  2. So will this work for your kiln? It comes set up for only a baby test kiln, under 15 amps.
  3. I think you just need to go through the settings and line everything up with the corresponding numbers in the manual. It'll take a lot of scrolling and checking to get it all set up. This is a good example of why kiln controllers like the Bartlett or Sentry controllers are worth the money. These general purpose PID controllers have so many variables to input that they get real confusing real fast. When I worked at Alpine kilns, they used a general purpose heating controller on their kilns, and it confused every single customer. You had to push 'Enter' 16 times (literally) to get to the menu to change the temperature setting. That's great if you do the same thing every time, like in industrial settings, but in a studio setting where you'll be using the same kiln for both bisque and glaze, it's a major hassle to make changes.
  4. neilestrick

    a quick question about Fire

    I fire mine overnight because it's more comfortable to be in the studio when it's not on. But some places will give discount rates for off-peak usage. Each firing isn't particularly expensive, but it can add up if you're firing a couple times each week.
  5. neilestrick

    Advancer Shelves: kiln wash or not?

    No worries with bisque. During a glaze firing, porcelain gets very close to its melting point, to it gets sticky. Think of hot glass just starting to soften and melt.
  6. neilestrick

    Kiln firing variations

    What's interesting is that if you tried to fire that kiln in college an hour faster on a normal day, it wouldn't work. It would fire unevenly and you'd be fighting it the whole time to try and keep it even. But on a rainy day, an hour faster and still even.
  7. neilestrick

    Kiln firing variations

    The kiln I was referring to that was affected by weather had power burners. My old kiln, which also had power burners, was also affected sometimes. I would imagine that natural draft is more susceptible to the effects of wind, though, as it could change the draft a lot. I think there's something about barometric pressure that affects combustion in general.
  8. Personally, I do not like this thread, as BCS doesn't have a presence here to defend themselves, nor is this the place to have that discussion IMO. There are places to voice your grievances- the review sites- which are available for anyone to see if they are thinking about doing business with just about any company. IMO, if you want good customer service, then buy locally, or at least from a reputable company where you can talk to a human being, not an online-only company. It is very difficult for brick-and-mortar folks to compete with the online-only retailers. We are expected to give the same low prices and free shipping and squeak by on the same small margins, yet also provide excellent customer service and tech support, which takes time and money. It's a race to the bottom.
  9. Got it. That's what we call a car kiln. There are front loading and pull-apart electric kilns that can accommodate sculpture very well. Also consider what the students will have access to once they get done with the program. Are the majority going to have to fire electric due to the restrictions on gas kilns like here? Ideally, the transition to their own studios should be as easy as possible. Reduction is great, and it would be great to have gas and electric, but if you have to choose, go with whichever is going to help the students the most when they leave your program.
  10. neilestrick

    Kiln firing variations

    Firing times in gas kilns can definitely be affected by weather. We had one in college that fired an hour faster when it rained. The density and shape of the load can also affect things. It's aprt of the joy of firing with gas.
  11. First, what is a Large electric tray kiln with auto-loader? My studio is about 200 square feet larger than what you're working with. I've got 10 wheels, shelving for 45 students, an 8x8 foot work table, 3 electric kilns, storage, etc., and I keep about 60 square feet for my studio. I do not have space for a slab roller or pug mill or spray booth or a separate glazing area. Things to consider regarding the gas kiln: Is a gas kiln really going to work in the situation? Electric kilns are much simpler to install and use. Will there be more than one teacher that knows how to use the gas kiln? I see a lot of gas kilns in schools where the previous teacher got it and used it, but the teachers after her don't have a clue how to use it and it just takes up space. Are the teachers prepared to put in the time that is required for firing it? Is there space for a gas kiln? You can put 2 or 3 electric kilns in the same space as one gas kiln. The gas kiln will need to be in a separate room. Nobody is going to want to be working in the same room while it's firing- they're hot and stinky. I only say all this because when I had a gas kiln it was a big issue. Firing electric is much simpler from a business standpoint. I would spend the money on more wheels and another electric kiln. Before you buy any equipment, make sure you have the ability and funds to vent all of it. Gas kiln venting is a big undertaking. Electric kiln venting is simpler, but still necessary and can be difficult in urban areas. Spray booth venting can also be a big deal. Air compressors are noisy. You'll want to figure out a place to put it outside of the studio. You don't want it running in the studio during class, or nobody will be able to hear anything. Lay out the space on paper or on Photoshop, and create little blocks that represent each element you need to put in the studio. Then start placing them and figure out what you can really fit. It takes a lot more shelving than you think.
  12. neilestrick

    Unusual Questions

    Great questions, and the simplest answer to questions 1-4 is: take a pottery class. In general, you either need to a part of the entire process or not. I don't think you'll find an artist who is willing to make pieces for you to paint. I know I wouldn't. If you want to buy my work, great, but I'm not going to collaborate with someone I don't know. You can buy bisque ware that is ready to be glazed, but it will be low-fire white clay, not porcelain. It won't be as durable. You'll have a hard time finding someone to fire your work for you without being a part of their system. There are way too many potential problems with firing pottery for people who aren't educated in the process. Personally, I will only fire for my students. Yes, you can absolutely buy good functional dinnerware from a potter, but you will only get to dictate the look of it to a certain degree, like pick from a few glazes and forms. If you really want something specific, and want to be a part of the process, take a pottery class. In the Pacific Northwest there are a lot of places to do it.
  13. Evenheat makes a nice kiln. If the bricks are in good shape, the wiring isn't brittle, and the controller works, it's worth buying. I wouldn't pay $850 for it, though, unless it's in really good shape. The Perfect Fire controller is one of the very first digital controllers, and is not all that functional. It only lets you program one rate of climb for the entire firing, so you can't do a slow climb at first, then speed up at higher temps. It'll work, it's just not ideal. I would contact Evenheat and see if it can be swapped out for a new controller without too much trouble. If it can, and the rest of the kiln is in really good condition, then even with spending $250 on a new controller you'd have a very affordable kiln.
  14. All online stores dealing with a large inventory will have issues from time to time, and just about anyone with an online presence will have bad reviews at some point, especially because the unhappy people are more likely to do a review. I'm sorry you had a bad experience with BCS. Personally, I've never had a problem, and I order from them 3-4 times a year.
  15. neilestrick

    Kiln Vents and Cooling

    It will not hurt to turn it on part way through a firing.

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