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Even Wax On Bottoms Without Hazards?

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I currently use a water-based wax resist (I think from ceramic supply Inc), and to get even bottoms I place the pots back on the wheel and apply the wax with a sponge. There are two issues with this:

1) It is arduous and time-consuming

2) The wax sort of "balls up" when I apply it. I get little wax balls everywhere and this also makes more of a rough edge than I would like.

 

I have taken some workshops where paraffin wax melted in an electric griddle is used. I really like this technique because:

1) It is super fast and efficient!

2) The bottoms come out with perfectly smooth and even edges

 

However, I hesitate to use paraffin wax because I have heard that:

1) The fumes are toxic and carcinogenic

2) It is extremely flammable

 

Does anyone know of anything that would:

1) Allow for FAST and efficient resist application (more so than bruising on or using the wheel)

2) Is not toxic, flammable or harmful

3) Can create smooth even lines on the bottoms of pots?

 

I realize this might be a bit of a pipe dream because if such a thing exists, why wouldn't everyone be using it?? Any suggestions would be appreciated!

 

Thanks,

 

Sam

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I currently use a water-based wax resist (I think from ceramic supply Inc), and to get even bottoms I place the pots back on the wheel and apply the wax with a sponge. There are two issues with this:

1) It is arduous and time-consuming

2) The wax sort of "balls up" when I apply it. I get little wax balls everywhere and this also makes more of a rough edge than I would like.

 

I have taken some workshops where paraffin wax melted in an electric griddle is used. I really like this technique because:

1) It is super fast and efficient!

2) The bottoms come out with perfectly smooth and even edges

 

However, I hesitate to use paraffin wax because I have heard that:

1) The fumes are toxic and carcinogenic

2) It is extremely flammable

 

Does anyone know of anything that would:

1) Allow for FAST and efficient resist application (more so than bruising on or using the wheel)

2) Is not toxic, flammable or harmful

3) Can create smooth even lines on the bottoms of pots?

 

I realize this might be a bit of a pipe dream because if such a thing exists, why wouldn't everyone be using it?? Any suggestions would be appreciated!

 

Thanks,

 

Sam

 

Sam

Sound like your wax resist may have been frozen. It has been years since working up north. Here in NC my studio temps stay above 32 F. I have always used a small brush to apply wax resist. Hot wax is faster. Of course, I'm not into speed or efficiency when I'm working in clay. You have stated the issues. So it is your call. Remember, working with clay has some hazards.

 

Ted

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I know a lot of potters who use the hot wax method in a electric fry pan set to a low temp.

This keeps the temp constant and lessens the risks mentioned. It also ensures a nice straight

line when you dip it.

 

The danger comes when you try to use the wax with uncontrolled heat or flames.

Also some potters have been known to mix in kerosene or paint thinner and this is a big

Safety No No!

 

You should use candle wax or paraffin mixed with a little mineral oil or vegetable oil for

brushing ease. The heat should not be higher than 250 F. Your brushes should be natural

bristles and not used for anything else. The fumes produced when you work this way are only

mildly irritating and can be vented if it adversely affects you.

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Before I began to use wax resist, I used an old electric crock pot to melt wax. The heat could be controlled to just the right temp which caused the least amount of fumes. However, there will always be fumes present when melting wax even at the lowest temp possible. Which is why I use wax resist now. The best resist I've found is from Axner.

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I've found that my wax resist gets those little balls of wax built up if I use the same container for a long period of time. Some of the wax starts to dry and then clumps together. To remedy this I use a small disposable container to hold a small amount of resist and when it is empty I just fill a new container. Also, I use foam brushes to apply wax resist. This gets an even coat and they are really cheap so you can use them for a day or so and then throw them out. This also alleviates the problem of stray bristles getting wax where you don't want it to go.

 

hope that helps,

Mark

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I also use the water based latex wax resist from Ceramic Supply. I think it does a good job. I apply it fairly fast with a clean brush. Dampen the brush first, before the first dip into the resist. Both the rim of the jar and brush will start to air dry fast, and the jar will start to form small clumps from exposure to the air, so I suggest pouring off what you think you will need into a small plastic cup, then clean the rim of the supply jar with a sponge and reseal it quickly. Keep your brush moving, and add a bit of water and remix if your cup starts to thicken. I would advise disposal of the cup and its remains after use. Do not pour back into supply jar (hopefully you wont have too much left). Also, this may be obvious, but try to do a lot of pieces at once. Clean the brush with soap and warm water after use.

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Why can't you just pour some of the water-based wax resist into a tray or dish, and dip as you would using electric skillet/paraffin?

That's what I would try to do, and if it threatens to dry out, just pour a little more in, or add a smidge of water. I think as long as you have all your pieces ready to dip, drying out wouldn't be a problem.

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The problem with water based wax resist is that it takes a long time to dry and it is softer

than the paraffin.

 

Slow to dry matters when you are working to a deadline ... You can't just sit around waiting

for wax to dry ... You want to get them glazed and firing. Soft wax can take up to a day to

dry enough so it does not stick to your fingers, then to the pot thus ruining your glaze finish.

 

Soft matters when you want a crisp line.

 

As with almost everything in pottery ... It all depends on what you want to do next.

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For smaller pieces like bowls and mugs, you can use a piece of foam as found in cushions or cheap bedding, and twist the bottom of the pot on the surface of the foam to remove the glaze.

You get a good even edge.

If you glaze the inside, then dip the outside, wipe the bottom before setting the pot down.

If you let the glaze dry, the dampen the foam.

Marcia

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I use paraffin wax on the bottoms of my pots. I have a single burner, a wide pan and a tempertaure regulator that controls the temp of the wax. (I worked with encaustics a few years ago and have my supplies from that). The regulator keeps the temp. controlled better than the dial on the single burner. I got it through dick blick http://www.dickblick.com/products/r-and-f-heated-spatula/ click on the picture of it.

 

Now the fume part got me thinking and perhaps the seasoned ceramists knows the answer, could you use beeswax instead of parffin? I worked with it when i used my encaustics and it smells alot better than paraffin! Perhaps there is a science to why paraffin is used, but it was a thought. I get my beeswax from a local beekeeper for cheap...

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I just melt candle wax in a tin pie plate on my stove at very low temp. Then I remove it from the stove and quickly dip the bottoms of my pots. Since my kiln is vented to the outdoors and I only fire a couple times a month, I'm not concerned about fumes. Is there something wrong with the way I am doing this?

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Carrying hot wax in a pie plate seems to be an opportunity to get splashed with hot sticky stuff!

 

If I were using your method I would prefer to have a metal pot or frypan with a handle and

I would only keep the heat on until the wax had melted in order to reduce the risk of it flaming.

 

Melting wax is not a hazardous task if done properly.

Cooks do this in their kitchens any time they are making jams or jellies or mixing

chocolate for some recipes.

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I agree with Chris that carrying hot wax around is dangerous. Crock pots and electric skillets are safer. Be careful. You can get some nasty burns from hot wax.

Marcia

 

 

Yeah, one of the reasons I stopped using it with High School students. There was always an idiot in a group that would think it cute to have a waxed finger. Thing is for the wax to get a good even thin coat on the bottom of the pot it has to be pretty hot. You dip your finger into it and it burns you, but when you take it out does it stop burning? Not! I would always talk about safety in the studio, and this was one of my lectures, but invariably someone thought they knew better. So the wax disappeared from the studio. I always use it at home, saving me many hours of dry cleanup.

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Thanks for our concerns everyone about carrying hot wax and getting splashed -- but don't worry. I don't carry the hot wax anywhere. I take it off the element -- and my pots are right there on the counter next to the stove and I just quickly dip the bottoms. I only have half a dozen pieces to be waxed at a time!

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I've done away with using much wax now-a-days. I have found that the underglazes that the Paint-it-yoourself pottery folks use work well at ^6. Yes they are made for ^06 but the concepts work well at #6 also. Don't put any clear glaze on them if you use three coats..

They don't seem to run and I have been painting them all the way down to the bottom edge.

 

Great colors. Try some for yourself. It has made my life easier.

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I don't know if this is the idea you're looking for, but for us we use water based wax resist, and we thin it down slightly with water to add brushability, as well as getting a nice thin coat that doesn't cause any real problems.

If time isn't a factor, we let the pots sit for at least twenty minutes before glazing, although others have found that if you sand and wax the pots the day before glazing, the wax resists the glaze more easily, as it has been given a generous amount of time to dry.

We use yogurt containers for our wax resist, so that we aren't diluting and using the same container it comes it.

Also, sponge brushes are our tool of choice, they hold more wax in one go, and give a smooth, even finish. Using them on the wheel or a banding wheel will give you a good, clean edge.

Hope this is helpful.

Cheers.

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Hi All,

 

So, since I started this post I have since come upon a solution to my problem and thought I would share it with everyone.

 

I ended up going for the melting pot method and using soy wax. I LOVE soy wax because it (1) does not have harmful or bothersome fumes (2) goes on cleanly and smoothly, leaving a nice crisp edge (3) dries relatively quickly (though slower than paraffin). Now it is a breeze to wax the bottoms of my pots and I don't have to worry about poisoning myself!

 

Cheers,

 

Sam

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Sam,

 

This weekend I tried soy wax instead of paraffin for the first time. It was awesome! It is superior to paraffin in many ways. It melted at a lower temp, there was no smoke and no odor. It melted into a very liquid state, which left a clean, straight, level edge on my pot. This is what annoyed me the most about paraffin, it didn't always leave a level edge because sometimes it started hardening as soon as it touched the cool pot. And when I need to touch up bare spots with a brush, the soy wax was easily brushable too, unlike paraffin which needs some mineral oil or kerosene to make it brushable. When I fired the pots, there was a slight smell of burning wax, but much less than the paraffin. I bet my neighbors will appreciate this. Overall, it was a huge improvement, with no drawbacks. Thanks for the idea!

 

Mea

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I usually use Forbes wax resist and apply it with a sponge to the bottoms of most of my pots....much quicker for me than using a brush and I get a very even, sharp line where the glaze meets the wax. When I'm going to glaze, I pour what I think I will need into a small container so it doesn't have the opportunity to get lumpy.

 

However, another method I use on some pieces (depends on the bottom) is to pour a 'puddle' of water on a flat level surface.....then, right before I'm ready to glaze the piece, I place the piece in the water, lift straight up, set it back down on a towel to remove drips, then glaze immediately. The clay has soaked up enough of the water so that it doesn't soak up the glaze and it can be easily wiped off. When I'm through, I use the towel to soak up the puddle.

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In just the last two weeks I have switched to wax medium, which is normally used for encaustic painting etc. I thin it with odorless mineral spirits to a brushing consistency. I use it mainly to mask painted areas in my majolica designs. But it seems to work very well for the bottoms of parts. I've also found that I can use more than one coat if I need to.

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I use (or used) the 'wax on a hot pan' method. Paraffin. I used to use old candles but I found the dyes and scent create alot more fumes. I had a bad case of fumeing at the elementry school where I work and smoked everyone out of the kiln room. I wanted to know why the vent system wasn't taking care of the problem. I researched it and I found that even the best vent, won't take care of wax fumes. I searched Clay Art and a couple other places. I don't know why this is. I'd like to know more about this if someone has information on this. Just somethings to chew on. Also all wax is toxic, bee's wax or otherwise. Good luck.

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