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ppony123

Favorite Bright Color Mason Stains?

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Hi guys! I'm a pretty new ceramicist. Just about a year and a half now. I just started making terra sigilatta over the winter. I've got 18 colors here now, but at least half of them are just not bright enough for me. It's hard to know though I'm experimenting and you KNOW that's expensive to do. Colors on a monitor never quite do them correctly as colors made w/ light will always tend to be brighter unless you color correct the image to be more reflective of reality. SOOOO. Anyway. I've found some that I really love like Chartruse and the 6300 Mazerine. Sunshine Yellow is a good bright yellow and French green is a pretty good blue-green. Sky blue is a pretty bright light blue and orange is OK. But still pretty unhappy w/ finding bright purple (the other Mazerine forgetting the # ATM  actually was a pretty good bright violet anyway). I've even tried a few of the discontinued colors like orchid but meh. I'm also pretty non-plussed w/ a good tropical-like rose color.  Crimson isn't too bad, but it's dull. Alpine Rose is too light.

 

Of course, it could be that I'm just still not adding enough stain though gosh, 2-3 tablespoons to 1/3 of sig base sure seems like a lot. Some need quite a bit of water to thin just to not be sludge.

 

I'm cool w/ mixing new colors, but if anyone wouldn't mind helping me save form spending so danged much in trying this and that and help me narrow things down keeping in mind I want punchy color and often bright, My local shop has a limited supply of stains so I really haven't bothered asking them. I order online far more than anything. I'd really REALLY appreciate any of YOUR personal favorite bright stains! Like, a TON! :D So...HELP! :)

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You are in a bit of a no win situation ... if you fire high enough to get bright colors you will lose the benefits of your Terra sig.

Mason stains darken around Cone 5-6 but your Terra sig cannot get anywhere near that hot.

 

So ... can you explain why are you using Terra sig as a way to get color? Perhaps there is another solution.

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A question about how you're making your sig: are you using the soda bottle method or other settling out technique, and if so, are you adding your stain to the finished product or the dry ingredients?

 

The reason I ask is that Mason stain particles can often be heavier than some oxides and will settle out more readily, which will affect the intensity of the end results. Also, if you're ball milling your sig, that can drastically alter the colours of your stains, particularly the encapsulated ones and a lot of the ones that are chrome based for some reason.

 

I second Chris's question about why use sig instead of slip, or even a homemade underglaze of 1 part stain, 1 part frit and 1 part EPK?

Are you needing the sheen of sig?

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You are in a bit of a no win situation ... if you fire high enough to get bright colors you will lose the benefits of your Terra sig.

Mason stains darken around Cone 5-6 but your Terra sig cannot get anywhere near that hot.

 

So ... can you explain why are you using Terra sig as a way to get color? Perhaps there is another solution.

 

 

A question about how you're making your sig: are you using the soda bottle method or other settling out technique, and if so, are you adding your stain to the finished product or the dry ingredients?

 

The reason I ask is that Mason stain particles can often be heavier than some oxides and will settle out more readily, which will affect the intensity of the end results. Also, if you're ball milling your sig, that can drastically alter the colours of your stains, particularly the encapsulated ones and a lot of the ones that are chrome based for some reason.

 

I second Chris's question about why use sig instead of slip, or even a homemade underglaze of 1 part stain, 1 part frit and 1 part EPK?

Are you needing the sheen of sig?

Well. Let me try to answer you, but you're getting to the heart of my lack of knowledge.   :D My reason for using terra sig was purely because I wanted to try to mix my own colors and to this point, I have only been using Amoco underglazes. It's the only way I knew to mix your own. At east, I didn't know there were others. (embarrassed face) Like I said. TOTAL newbie! So I found an artist I really loved that happened to be local and her style was very similar to mine (or what I thought mine was looking to be), and I thought at least in part by doing a bit of what she did/does, I might get closer to looks I want. Or thought I wanted. Thus far, I've not been happy at all w/ any my finishes. They turn out fine as I apply them, they just aren't doing anything for me visually yet. 

 

I'm teaching myself pretty much other than that 1 class. I never did any ceramics in college or anywhere. I went to a  visual art college but we were small and didn't have a ceramics proff.  And here I am, 25 years after college and I JUST found that I love clay. Oh, the lost years.

 

 I'm doing all hand building of tiles and sculptures just FYI. No pots or throwing.  I'm trying to find a look I like (the eternal quest for us all I'm gathering), and the only way I've known to go about that is to find someone that does something I like and I'll try to achieve finishes like they have at least as a starting point. Nothing has really tripped my trigger so far.  

 

I actually am not after the sheen of the sig at all. Which probably begs the question as to why I'm doing it at all? Yeah, I don't know. Just cuz? :D Because a favorite artist I does it so here I am? 

Also, to this point, I've only been able to fire to 04. Long story, but it's because I've had a small tabletop kiln I bought w/ the purpose of doing enameling. Found I didn't care for that process and on a whim tried clay and I found my new love. I just bought a nice big kiln that will go to a 10 if I need. I just need to wire for it and I'll be able to experiment w/ mid-range glazes which I'm eager to try.

 

 

I've been using the settling out method in a glass jar. The base recipe calls for OM4 ball clay and dry groellig porcelain w/ sodium silicate to defloc. I've been letting it settle a few days until I see a hint of a line and then siphon. Then at that point I add stain to the base.

I only make about 1/3c volume of stain-sig mix at a time so I'm mixing them up each time I use them because they're always completely settled into a solid. I do notice some colors need more stain and others less to achieve strong color and some settle super fast while others can take longer. It's also amazing to me how some can have the same amount of stain by volume in them and one is still nice and thin liquid and the other is almost like mud thick.

 

I know i've tried to read up on coloring slip, but I admit, my brain is exploding and I don't quite get how to do it yet. Could it be as easy as juts adding stain to a slip? I have 5 gallons of casting slip here I bought and never used. Could I use that? It's the same clay base and manufacturer as the low-fire I use.

 

Perhaps I'm just barking up the wrong tree and I should be using something else? It's hard to do this all on your own when there really aren't people to help you figure things out.  Until I found this forum anyway. ;) God knows I've purchased a dozen books, but I'm still feeling like I'm flailing around w/o a place to aim.

 

 

I do VERY much apologize if what I asked ended up being something books have been written about ad nauseam. I hate when people don't do experimentation and research on their own and expect others to answer everything for them w/o having done some footwork on their own. We ALL have busy lives and it's not fair to ask other artists, IMO, to spend so much of their time helping if I haven't at least done a lot of the research and testing first. :) I value everyone's time! <3 

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This is the exact reason why this forum is here ... to HELP you narrow down your search.

We all had to start somewhere.

 

The best thing you could do is to post a few pictures of the look you are trying to get.

Once we see what you are aiming for, we can give you a ton of ideas.

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Callie - in your recipe for slip, will any kaolin and any frit work, or should they be particular ones?

Any white burning kaolin will work, just EPK is ubiquitous. For frit, start experimenting with what you have to hand. I personally try and use one that's already in my clear glaze, using the assumption that it's already compatible and therefore won't give me grief, but there's probably a number of instances where that assumption is wrong.

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Ppony,

 

The learning curve on ceramics is huge. Your experiences are normal. We all go through this. It all comes with practice. As to your questions:

 

You are mixing your sig in the most optimum way to keep the colour the most saturated. I'm assuming you're keeping it stirred up as you apply, etc etc. Sig is gong to have a softer colour pallete,in part because of some of the iron in the ball clay, and in part because it goes on in a more sheer, shiny coating of fine particles than slip.

 

Yes, you can simply add Mason stain (or oxides) to a casting slip if the piece you're putting it on is also made of that same casting slip. If you're making your pieces out of a white clay, you can add colourants to a slip made of that same clay, and in fact that's a recommended way to make sure your slip doesn't shrink off your pot as it dries. If you're using a slip though, you generally have to apply it to leather hard clay, not greenware or bisque. (There are exceptions and other recipes that push these limits, but for the sake of simplicity, let's stick with these basic assumptions for now.)

 

If you want to have bright saturated colours in your work, the underglaze recipe that I already mentioned is a solid one that can be applied to drier or bone dry pots, or even bisqueware. Or, if that's entirely too fussy, there is nothing at all wrong with sticking with manufactured underglazes, because the good folks at Amoco, Maco, Velvet, etc. all do really good work and know what they're on about.

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I may have missed it but what is your firing temperature for your tiles?  You said you're doing a tablespoon of stain to your base. How much base? A 1/4 cup, a pint? Could you post a jpg of what you are trying to achieve? It could be you could mix an underglaze base. Terrasig is not an underglaze base. It is used for burnishing surfaces and fired to ^08 max. for that effect. Fired hotter it does other things. Some sculptors like the surface. You won't get very bright colors without a glaze or a flux with the stain

 

A simple low fire base (Val Cushng)  is 1/3 EPKaolin, 1/3  Frit 3110, 1/ 3 stain  use on bisque.

The "1/3" stain will vary depending on your desired intensity. 

Next, when you use a glaze with stains you need to follow the reference codes for each particular stain. Alpine pink needs a different chemical combo in the glaze compared to say hypothetically Mazarine blue.

here is the guide several pages

http://www.theceramicshop.com/store/content/369/Mason-Stain-Reference-Guide/

You will have more questions, so keep asking them.

Marcia

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I may have missed it but what is your firing temperature for your tiles?  You said you're doing a tablespoon of stain to your base. How much base? A 1/4 cup, a pint? Could you post a jpg of what you are trying to achieve? It could be you could mix an underglaze base. Terrasig is not an underglaze base. It is used for burnishing surfaces and fired to ^08 max. for that effect. Fired hotter it does other things. Some sculptors like the surface. You won't get very bright colors without a glaze or a flux with the stain

 

A simple low fire base (Val Cushng)  is 1/3 EPKaolin, 1/3  Frit 3110, 1/ 3 stain  use on bisque.

The "1/3" stain will vary depending on your desired intensity. 

Next, when you use a glaze with stains you need to follow the reference codes for each particular stain. Alpine pink needs a different chemical combo in the glaze compared to say hypothetically Mazarine blue.

here is the guide several pages

http://www.theceramicshop.com/store/content/369/Mason-Stain-Reference-Guide/

You will have more questions, so keep asking them.

Marcia

I'm firing to a ^04. I use at least 2 tablespoons of stain to 1/3 cup of base. Some colors I add as much as a whole extra tablespoon, others maybe a half teaspoon more if any. I TOTALLY forgot, yes, I do add a flux into the stain mix.  Ferro Frit.

 

THANKS for that recipe. I'll give it a whirl. In addition, I'll try to add colors to my slip and see how I feel about that. :)

 

That's good to know about the iron softening the colors a bit. Perhaps I shouldn't have so quickly abandoned the underglazes? Maybe I should have tried mixing some to get colors I want. I'm adept at that in paint, but as we all know, this is a bit different. One thing I thought was going to be a boon for me is Deb said she only applies one layer of her sig and it as plenty. I've been still doing 3 coats because they've needed it for most colors. I don't know how she got away w/ so little given she worked on red low-fire. There's another things Iv'e not done. She uses red low-fire so I've not even tried it on white LF. I've still not decided on what clay I like best to work with. I've only done white and red LF from Continental so far. I've got a few boxes of stonewares here to try with my thought of trying the Potter's Choice glazes in layers.

 

 

 

 

 

Ppony,

 

The learning curve on ceramics is huge. Your experiences are normal. We all go through this. It all comes with practice. As to your questions:

 

You are mixing your sig in the most optimum way to keep the colour the most saturated. I'm assuming you're keeping it stirred up as you apply, etc etc. Sig is gong to have a softer colour pallete,in part because of some of the iron in the ball clay, and in part because it goes on in a more sheer, shiny coating of fine particles than slip.

 

Yes, you can simply add Mason stain (or oxides) to a casting slip if the piece you're putting it on is also made of that same casting slip. If you're making your pieces out of a white clay, you can add colourants to a slip made of that same clay, and in fact that's a recommended way to make sure your slip doesn't shrink off your pot as it dries. If you're using a slip though, you generally have to apply it to leather hard clay, not greenware or bisque. (There are exceptions and other recipes that push these limits, but for the sake of simplicity, let's stick with these basic assumptions for now.)

 

If you want to have bright saturated colours in your work, the underglaze recipe that I already mentioned is a solid one that can be applied to drier or bone dry pots, or even bisqueware. Or, if that's entirely too fussy, there is nothing at all wrong with sticking with manufactured underglazes, because the good folks at Amoco, Maco, Velvet, etc. all do really good work and know what they're on about.

I'm SO glad there are people like you guys willing to share your experiences and insight. I'm gun-shy asking people these days because I've had most of the artists iv'e asked a question here and there not give me any help. A few were kind, and I TOTALLY wouldn't ask someone any proprietary info. As I said previously, I know that people's time is precious and I try not to ask anything I would think would be complicated. Just questions like do you use a black copper or black iron stain? Things like that. I'm STILL not sure on the answer to what either of those look like for sure. The last I went in to buy some black copper oxide, they were out so I only have the black iron and haven't used it yet.

I'll give that underglaze recipe a whirl too. <3 I wish I could just upload all your thoughts and experiences into my brain like in Matrix. I don't mind a learning curve, but it's so hard to do in a bubble and when you have to still keep producing product to sell.

 

THANKS GUYS!

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This is the exact reason why this forum is here ... to HELP you narrow down your search.

We all had to start somewhere.

 

The best thing you could do is to post a few pictures of the look you are trying to get.

Once we see what you are aiming for, we can give you a ton of ideas.

Will do! In fact, I'll go post one of them now. I am DEEPLY an grateful for finding this forum. Why I didn't until now? God only knows. :)

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