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Firing Recycled Commercial Ware

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#1 SmartsyArtsy


    Chris Seminara

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Posted 18 October 2013 - 05:33 PM

Someone approached me looking to rent my crucible kiln to fire commercial ware. I am trying to look at pros and cons, and also prevent harming my kiln.

The ware is usually white glazed. To this, decals are added. Then they seen to be fired 04/05

I am not Leary of the decals. It is not knowing the clay body and what it was previously glazed with. I also have concern that "non toxic" paint might be used to further decorate it.

PRO: $$$
CON: The aforementioned worries-- Are they justified ?

Thanks in advance for your replies.

#2 Babs


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Posted 18 October 2013 - 06:15 PM

How much do you rely on your kiln?

Is this person a friend? Still friends after a disaster firing? 

Could you function without this kiln?

Would you be in charge of the firing?

Rental or hire as there may be $$$$ isssues if the wares melt onto your kilnshelves, some of the low firing bodies are just that.

Fugitive chemicals may /will affect your wares in future.

Do you need the $$$?

Just some :(  thoughts before the decision! 

Personally, I don't do this anymore.


#3 SmartsyArtsy


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Posted 18 October 2013 - 10:07 PM

Good questions. So I am not being too careful, I see :)

#4 Mark C.

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 01:44 AM

Over my 40 years I have learned that firing other folks stuff is not for me . I learned that about 30 years ago.

For money or even for free for friends

1st-if it all goes wrong they still owe you but are mad that it failed and feel not so good about paying

2nd sooner or later it will go wrong as its ceramics

3rd If I do not know what clay body etc it can go very wrong

4th if one piece explodes runs  or deformes and ruins wares or elements do they pay for all to be fixed??


I once bisue fired a sculpture a fellow spent 3 months carving -a wildlife scene with animals-it all went smooth but what if it blew up??

I once fired a hand drawen cobalt platter-I threw someone else drew what it was ruined?

I one fired some fuzed glass forms for slumping glass for another potter who said it was cone 10 clay and it was cone 5 and slumped and ran at cone 11

Its best to think of all outcome and sign some contracts on what if? I found it easier to say NO

I once fired someone cone 10 clay to cone 10 and it was low fire-what a mess-ruined a lot of my work and the shelves all needed serious work

I will add decals are very low fire and the risk is lower but that said can you control the disaster??



I have fired many a school art clases stuff(K1-6) but I supply MY CLAY BODY and check all glazing-I control the whole deal-and its always worked out-I always do it for free-Kids need to be exposed to clay and its my outreach.

Mark Cortright

#5 Chris Campbell

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 10:45 AM

If I understand your question ... they are bringing commercially made, white glazed wares that they want to add decals to and want you to fire it to cone 04-05 for them?

If this is the case it sounds fairly uncomplicated. Make sure they know that all they are paying for is kiln space and firing time ... you take absolutely no ownership of the results. Kind of like baking your cake batter in my oven ... Not my problem if you don't mix and measure correctly ... or if you tell me it has to go to 350 when 325 is correct.
I would also want to vet the decals so you don't end up being involved in copyright infringement or some other potentially iffy things.
I would also take payment before, not wait until after. Your payment does not depend on results so get it upfront.
Chris Campbell Pottery
Contemporary Fine Colored Porcelain


" If a sufficient number of people are different, no one has to be normal "

Fredrick Bachman

#6 neilestrick


    Neil Estrick

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 10:52 AM

Make them sign something that absolves you of any wrongdoing should the pieces not come out as they wanted them to. Make them agree to a specific firing schedule that you will use. Make them agree to pay for any damages to the kiln shelves, kiln, etc. They need to understand that if anything goes wrong, it's their problem. Make them pay in advance, put everything in writing.


That said, I wouldn't do it.

Neil Estrick
Kiln Repair Tech
L&L Kilns Distributor
Owner, Neil Estrick Gallery, LLC


#7 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 04:29 PM

Neil said it all. I don't take anyone's work in my kiln. I did fire student work when the kilns at the U. were too small to accommodate the pieces. But I keow what the clay was.
I wouldn't take on others work. Too risky to your equipment/investment.

Marcia Selsor, Professor Emerita,Montana State University-Billings

#8 SmartsyArtsy


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Posted 19 October 2013 - 07:53 PM

Thank you everyone. I made the choice to say no because of the unknowns. If, in the future, I do fire ware I am more comfortable with, I will def only do so via contract that protects me.

#9 JBaymore



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Posted 20 October 2013 - 08:43 AM

I made the choice to say no because of the unknowns.


The Force is strong in you. Much you have learned. ;)





John Baymore
Adjunct Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

Former Guest Professor, Wuxi Institute of Arts and Science, Yixing, China

Former President and Past President; Potters Council



#10 perkolator


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Posted 21 October 2013 - 02:52 PM

we have done what you are wanting to do several times in our studio.  we'll get a bunch of free "undesirable" non-seller dishes from a thrift store and then make them appealing.  with thrift-store dishes you absolutely must test the ware in the kiln before doing your actual firing.  we've found out real quick that not all clay is the same temp and you can definitely run in to a disaster.  always test the piece on a pre-fired waste tray or on a sacrificial kiln shelf.  You need to make sure the dishes will survive the cone you're firing to.  ^04/05 is fairly hot for firing decals on a thrift store plate - usually we get away firing to around ^018 and the hottest around ^06 when we add some underglazes to the surface treatment.  of course this all depends on the type of decals being applied.

good luck!

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