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Test Tile Designs - Pros and Cons


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#1 Slipped

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 04:37 PM

Hello all!

I am fairly new to posting on the forum, but enjoy the discussions here, so I thought I'd ask for your knowledgeable input. I recently set up my studio after about a 10 year hiatus and have had a couple of pretty decent firings (cone 6 electric). One of my New Year projects is to go back to what I should have done before those firings and run some glaze tests. I have some nice glazes that I want to do some overlap testing with and try out some new stuff too. No major deadlines coming up so now is the time!

To the point! I have used the standard "L" and "T" shaped test tiles in the past, extruded, with success. I have an extruder, but no test tile die at present, and no drill press or tools to create a large enough die for a test tile. I do my own small dies with credit cards and a dremel, but I don't think that would be strong enough for a larger shape. Problem #2 is I'd like to hang these on a board when I'm finished, and don't really want to go breaking off the bottom leg of hundreds of tiles (yep, I'm ambitious with these testing plans). So I'm thinking of just making flat tiles with a stamp on one side for texture and a hole for mounting, and making some little "tile setters" of some sort for firing them so they stand at an angle.

How do you make your test tiles? How do you position them for firing? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Stacy

#2 Matt Oz

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 05:48 PM

Hi slipped,

I like to keep it simple.

I roll out a slab, cut it into squares or rectangles, then curve them enough so they will stand up on their own.

#3 Denice

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 06:02 PM

You can buy a cheap plastic cutting board and use it to make extruder dies, they are very strong and easy to cut with drill bits and a saber saw, I clean them up with a wood file. Denice

#4 Paula Patton

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 06:25 PM

My first instructor, Amanda showed me how to make test tiles throwing an open bottom ring on a bat adding some decoration on the side with a tool. When leather hard, just cut into small tiles and add a hole for hanging. We made a video about it: They have a flat bottom so they stand up on the kiln shelf when firing and hang nicely on a board after they are glazed. -Paula-

#5 lynny

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 08:38 PM

What a great clip Paula! They even end up with a little 'drip tray' for runny glazes. I've been making flat clay loops/circles and storing them on a metal ring, sort of like a big bunch of keys, but think I'll shift to this thrown method
cheers Lyn

#6 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 09:02 PM

I use the flat tiles with holes and fire them against posts. If you like the T or L shapes as previously mentioned, you can throw them.
Marcia

#7 SShirley

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 09:20 AM

Hello all!

I am fairly new to posting on the forum, but enjoy the discussions here, so I thought I'd ask for your knowledgeable input. I recently set up my studio after about a 10 year hiatus and have had a couple of pretty decent firings (cone 6 electric). One of my New Year projects is to go back to what I should have done before those firings and run some glaze tests. I have some nice glazes that I want to do some overlap testing with and try out some new stuff too. No major deadlines coming up so now is the time!

To the point! I have used the standard "L" and "T" shaped test tiles in the past, extruded, with success. I have an extruder, but no test tile die at present, and no drill press or tools to create a large enough die for a test tile. I do my own small dies with credit cards and a dremel, but I don't think that would be strong enough for a larger shape. Problem #2 is I'd like to hang these on a board when I'm finished, and don't really want to go breaking off the bottom leg of hundreds of tiles (yep, I'm ambitious with these testing plans). So I'm thinking of just making flat tiles with a stamp on one side for texture and a hole for mounting, and making some little "tile setters" of some sort for firing them so they stand at an angle.

How do you make your test tiles? How do you position them for firing? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Stacy


I have made flat test tiles for years, with re-useable trays to hold them in the kiln. Just like you describe. They work great. And they are easy to store because they are flat and take so little space. I store them in a plastic shoebox. I also make test tiles with round extrusions and hang them on the handles of the glaze buckets.

I once visited a potter named Conrad Snyder who extruded square tubes, all cut to the same length, and drilled a hole on one side. Then he covered a big wall with them, all organized according to glaze. It was amazing! A work of art all by itself.

#8 Pres

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 12:19 PM

I use the flat tiles with holes and fire them against posts. If you like the T or L shapes as previously mentioned, you can throw them.
Marcia


When throwing the "L" or "T" score a thick line on the bottom section of the L or T, and add a hole, so that you can break off the bottom and grind it with a dremel to hang on the wall or a glaze test tile board. Helps to have labels underneath to easily pick glazes in a big studio.

Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/


#9 Christine

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 02:23 PM

I make test tiles cut from a larger slab, putting a hanging hole in the top and impressing with a pattern of some sort. I used to stamp a code on the tile face too which refered to the glaze I'd used, making up the stamp with letters and numbers from an old Ardana printing kit - useful for commercial glazes especially - but nowadays I tend to just use numbers which refer back to my glaze recipe file .... reading this, I sound really really reined in and controlling - not the case at all .... honest!

#10 Slipped

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 03:26 PM

Thanks so much for the replies, you guys are the best!

Denice, I have watched someone make a die with a cutting board before, but they used a drill press, jig saw, torch, etc., and it just seemed too intimidating in general, and I don't have all those tools! I'll have to try it with my regular drill and a file and see how it goes. I definitely have ideas for larger dies...but the old credit cards do work great for smaller shapes, like mouldings and handles, etc.

That was a great video Paula! I like the low profile of your foot, and the lip/well at the bottom. When I need to make a really wide walled piece like a large platter or serving dish I throw the bottom/floor only on a nice wide bat, with a ridge on the outside edge. Then extrude a 1 1/2" - 2" solid cylinder and make a doughnut a bit smaller in diameter than what I want the piece to be, attach it to the bottom, and continue to throw the wall from there. You have to make sure you attach well and compress the coil, but it's worked well for me. It cuts down on the amount of clay I have to center in the beginning a lot, helpful since I use a kick wheel. These would be easy to do that way, no bottom! I liked your soundtrack too. Posted Image

The wall of test tiles that SShirley mentioned is exactly where I'm headed! I have also visited potters with a display like that in their studios, and I have the perfect wall for it in my glazing area. I have made a grid of my glazes and given each a letter for the 1st coat and a # for the 2nd for this overlap testing (A1, A2, etc.) that way I'll have a tile of the single glaze color itself also. Since I have 10 or 15 glazes I want to test and a couple of clay bodies, the number of tiles add up quick! This seemed like the best system for that many combinations. I'm really excited about it though, as it's a project for me. I also LOVE the idea of the small cylinders used on the handles of the glaze buckets - genius!! I only share my studio with 1 person, but she's a beginner, and is still trying to get past the "pink glaze that's really blue" thing. I have a small hollow round die that will do the trick, so I will be making these for sure.

I also hadn't thought of scoring the "L" to facilitate breaking the stand off, that's a great tip Pres, I'll be keeping that in mind when I get my cutting board test tile dies made.

I think I'm going to try the flat tiles in a stand or setter of some sort. I tried last night to make some tiles and extruded a strap about 2" wide and 1/4" thick, and cut it into 3" lengths. I was able to turn out 120 tiles pretty quickly, with a hole in the top for mounting and used a bisque stamp in the upper right quadrant for texture. I'm still experimenting with the stand/setter design. I want something fairly low profile, but sturdy enough, and quick/easy to produce (I'll be re-using them too). I'm leaning toward a "small rectangle with angled grooves", but am up for suggestions! I forgot to mention in my earlier post that time in my studio is at a premium, I work a full time job and have 2 small girls, 3 & 9. I'm also the leader of my oldest's girl scout troop, and it's cookie time, but that's a whole other ball of wax. So that factor will influence the process, I need a quick and efficient use of my limited studio time, more bang for my buck (or minute in this case).

I so appreciate the tips and suggestions, I have tried to do a little research, but just not enough hours in the day! (well, not if I want to feed my kids, walk the dog, do laundry, yada yada) Thanks for sharing, I'll try to post some pics of my results!

Stacy

#11 SShirley

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 03:53 PM

Stacy,

Here's a picture of mine to show you how I made them. It's just simple slab stuff with the back piece a little taller than the front. I made some that hold one tile, some that hold two and some that hold three or four. That way they can fit in different places in the kiln.

Sylvia

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#12 Slipped

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 04:05 PM

Stacy,

Here's a picture of mine to show you how I made them. It's just simple slab stuff with the back piece a little taller than the front. I made some that hold one tile, some that hold two and some that hold three or four. That way they can fit in different places in the kiln.

Sylvia



Oh yes! Fabulous Sylvia, thanks so much!! I bet I can make a credit card die for my extruder and whip those out in a jiffy. The different lengths is a great idea for loading too, thanks again!!!

Stacy

p.s. - I almost named my youngest Sylvia, but she ended up Caroline, and my maiden name was Shirley. Posted Image

#13 SShirley

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 07:19 PM

Stacy

p.s. - I almost named my youngest Sylvia, but she ended up Caroline, and my maiden name was Shirley. Posted Image
[/quote]

Wow, that's spooky! Do you have any family in North Carolina or Kentucky? That's where my husband comes from.

#14 Slipped

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 07:33 PM

My dads family is from Northeast TN (where we live now too), but I think they came here from Western NC in the 30s, it's crazy how vast, and small the world is.

#15 Kabe

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 09:18 PM

I extrude my tiles. I have also thrown them and divided the bowl like a pie. I like it that they will stand by themselves and instead of hanging them, I mount them on a 3/8 board with liquid nail and they slide into a wooden self system like draws. I number my test tile, 100 = white, 200= black, 300 = blue ect. so I can have 100 tiles of each color. 12 draws,1200 tile (in time.) These are my finished tiles that I like, not all my tests because some don't work. I plan on putting a 2 holes in the foot of the tile so it will just slip down over screws driven up through the bottom of the 3/8 board that way I can move them. You can't if you glue them in . I like the easy access and how easy it is to compare shades of colors. Before they all got piled up and you had to sort through stuff to find them. I don't have the wall space to hang them. I write the numbers on the tile, on the bottom side edge of the foot that way it does not get covered with glaze. I use black iron oxide mixed with wet bentinite it works almost like an ink. I just started adding the bentinite to the iron oxide because with just water it would not stay supended. (I think It might work as a way to decorate some pots with brush work but haven't tried that yet.) I just use a small oil painting brush. they are as easy to read. This works for me. I have an extruder made from the assembly of a trailer tongue wheel. I don't remember what they called but it is the wheel you screw down to hold up the tongue of a trailer and it will fold up out of the way when it is being hauled. (Wouldn't recommend it to anyone, but it will work) I removed the wheel, I adaped the plunger with a rubber boot like a syring and force the clay through 4 inch pvc. I use pvc test caps for dies. I sometimes reinforce them with roofing flashing metal. If your clay is too dry it can be to much for the plastic. I'm not saying build one of these, but the test caps are easy to turn into dies. and maybe they would work for you or someone else. Also if you are going to hang your tiles like keys on a ring, those cheap metal shower rings that spring thogether like a safty pin work well. ain't clay fun Kabe

#16 Melinda

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 03:25 PM

Hello all!

I am fairly new to posting on the forum, but enjoy the discussions here, so I thought I'd ask for your knowledgeable input. I recently set up my studio after about a 10 year hiatus and have had a couple of pretty decent firings (cone 6 electric). One of my New Year projects is to go back to what I should have done before those firings and run some glaze tests. I have some nice glazes that I want to do some overlap testing with and try out some new stuff too. No major deadlines coming up so now is the time!

To the point! I have used the standard "L" and "T" shaped test tiles in the past, extruded, with success. I have an extruder, but no test tile die at present, and no drill press or tools to create a large enough die for a test tile. I do my own small dies with credit cards and a dremel, but I don't think that would be strong enough for a larger shape. Problem #2 is I'd like to hang these on a board when I'm finished, and don't really want to go breaking off the bottom leg of hundreds of tiles (yep, I'm ambitious with these testing plans). So I'm thinking of just making flat tiles with a stamp on one side for texture and a hole for mounting, and making some little "tile setters" of some sort for firing them so they stand at an angle.

How do you make your test tiles? How do you position them for firing? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Stacy



#17 Melinda

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 03:33 PM

Hi,
I have made simple test tiles for years by flattening a small ball of clay with palm or rolling pin into a flat lozenge shape about 1" wide and four inches tall...then banging the bottom of it on the table to form a stable foot front and back to serve as a stand. I dip glazes on the vertical part, usually in two layers to test for thickness and runniness...the "foot" catches runs to protect kiln shelves and you can fit a lot of tests in the kiln.

I usually stamp a number into the base so that I can record the firing for my test records. When you have results, the tiles hang nicely on a board in the studio. I hope this helps.

#18 Ben

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 12:33 PM

If you are looking for test density on the final display you just can't beat the curie grid tile concept.
I made a template with raised squares that I press into the top of the tile. That leaves a small raised ridge between glaze areas.
My tiles are about 6x8x5/16".
If you leave a 1/2" or so band around the outside you can wad them and stack them.
If they are very wide you should wad in the middle.
They take up little space in the kiln compared to how many tests you can put on them.
If you want to really pack the tests in a small space you can make them double sided.

Lots of info in a small space.

If you have trouble with making the extruder die for the "t" shaped tiles please let me know. I've made a few and they are pretty easy with the right tools. I made hundreds of "T" tiles in a couple hours one afternoon in a couple of hours.

I use a number stamp to mark them with their clay type while the clay is soft. They sell these stamps at the office store. They have 6 or 10 rows of numbers that you can adjust from 0~9. I use a code number for each homebrew clay or the manufacturers number for commercial clays. You can never smear or rub of that stamped in number.

I also have a method for cutting the extrusions to width but I'll save that for another discussion thread.
FWIW,
Ben




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