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curt

Ian Currie Test Tiles Forums?

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Definitely keep posting the tiles - and your interpretation of what you are seeing.  Very interesting and informative.  Every Currie tile is a great learning opportunity, even if it is a glaze I don’t happen to be working on at the moment.

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Please keep the tiles coming.

The quote from Tom Turner that Min shared seems to contradict my suggestion that reduction makes copper a more powerful flux. The only explanation I can think of is that perhaps with the finer mesh sizes of SiC, all the SiC is reduced earlier in the firing, so there's some re-oxidation happening.

Edited by Pieter Mostert
Tom Coleman --> Tom Turner
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14 hours ago, Pieter Mostert said:

Please keep the tiles coming.

The quote from Tom Coleman that Min shared seems to contradict my suggestion that reduction makes copper a more powerful flux. The only explanation I can think of is that perhaps with the finer mesh sizes of SiC, all the SiC is reduced earlier in the firing, so there's some re-oxidation happening.

Actually the author is Tom Turner.  

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53 minutes ago, Magnolia Mud Research said:

Actually the author is Tom Turner.  

Thanks, I always get their names mixed around, I went back and corrected it in my post.

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@Joseph F  There's no better place to post them. The thread started with Curts lack of finding a Currie tile forum so we started one here.   I still remember the first tile I tried and spending 3 hours weighing out each individual glaze for each cup because I was clueless. 

 

Always generally interested in a test tile whatever you are testing out.

 

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6 hours ago, High Bridge Pottery said:

 I still remember the first tile I tried and spending 3 hours weighing out each individual glaze for each cup because I was clueless. 

hahaha. I can imagine doing that. I now think of everything in terms of volume + dry mixing. Now that I have the ability to calculate a ratio of wet to dry in a mix. I can easily estimate the dry amount needed to add. It is fantastic what a little work will lead you to discover improvements in your processes. When I used to mix glazes for testing colorants. I would weigh out 5 batches individually.... now I just mix up a batch, and do a certain ml into each one, calculate the dry ingredients in that cup and mix the appropriate % I want to add. So much better. 

I am really enjoying the exploration aspect. I recently decided to give up any real pursuit of being a production potter in order to be a glaze and surface scientist potter profession thingy?! I am actually studying chemistry makeups of ingredients now in my Out of Earth Into Fire book. That isn't to say I don't think production pottery isn't awesome, it is. It just isn't where my heart is in this world of ceramics. I was talking to a friend about his business and stuff and I was telling him to quit beating his head against the wall trying to force something that he doesn't want to do, and just adapt to what he wants to do. Then on the way home I realized that I am not even taking my own advice.

The whole idea of electric kilns and what they can do is still in its infancy. They are beautiful machines that produce consistent glaze results, it is up to us to figure out the rest of the glaze equations.

My slab roller should arrive this coming week I think. I estimate I will be making hundreds of tiles very soon. Lots of testing!

Edited by Joseph F

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Guest JBaymore
12 hours ago, Joseph F said:

 I was talking to a friend about his business and stuff and I was telling him to quit beating his head against the wall trying to force something that he doesn't want to do, and just adapt to what he wants to do. Then on the way home I realized that I am not even taking my own advice.

It is funny how sometimes that kind of thing comes up and slaps you in the face.  :)

Epiphany!

best,

...................john

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joseph, hope you enjoy your slab roller.  if you have thought of a way to roll a slab that comes out the first time with those little pockets or whatever you call the places you put the tests, please share that.   i picture something like a thickish slab with Chicklets rolled into them.  gotta be a way.

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@oldlady

You are inside my head. I am currently looking into a method to place the mold on top of a slab then roll through again. If I can't figure it out I will go back to the previous method of making a slab then placing it on top of the bisque mold I am using now, then rolling pin pressure into the mold.

I am thinking some type of silicon or softer plastic mold that is slightly flexible that can handle going through the roller. If I actually figure it out I will definitely post it.

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Was thinking about this when I was out this morning, how about cutting craft foam into an open grid, as the walls are on the grid,  hot glue gun it onto a full sheet of foam. Maybe stack 3 or 4 grids to make a deep enough impression. Some plastic film or a piece of pantyhose on top of it, then your slab on top of it and run it through the slab roller? dunno, might work? This stuff.

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@Min This is a good idea, but I am not exactly sure what your saying.  I was thinking of some type of foam, as it wouldn't crack under the pressure. 

Edit: I just reread what you said. That might actually work. I think I understand now.

I have another friend who showed me some kind of way to make a soft plastic mold. Basically I would make a grid out of clay, then use clay to make a mold of that counter grid. Then put it in a box and pour out some type of silicon/plastic type material that sets. But it never gets super hard. It might be more trouble than it is worth. I tried my best to find some type of custom silicon mat type company online and I couldn't find anyone who could do the job. I found plenty of people selling all types of clay silicon mats that were already cut, but no one who would make a custom one.  The only issue with silicon is it is probably to soft for making grids. I don't know all of this type of thinking is new to me. But I definitely need to make grids faster, as I am going to be doing 12 or so a week if I can keep to my testing production plan.

I need to figure out how I am going to modify the grid tiles first. There is no reason not to have some type of slight elevation inside of each of the 35 grids. It makes no sense to not have some type of slope in it. I am sketching ideas currently. But mostly I have been focusing on throwing jars and lids lately. I am kind of entranced with the design of a jar.

Just for reference this is the type of mat I would like to use. https://www.chineseclayart.com/Store/Textures It seems to be perfect for the job as it is a type of rubber plastic. It seems to leave deep impressions and would work really well.

Edited by Joseph F

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4 minutes ago, Joseph F said:

@Min This is a good idea, but I am not exactly sure what your saying.  I was thinking of some type of foam, as it wouldn't crack under the pressure. 

Edit: I just reread what you said. That might actually work. I think I understand now.

I have another friend who showed me some kind of way to make a soft plastic mold. Basically I would make a grid out of clay, then use clay to make a mold of that counter grid. Then put it in a box and pour out some type of silicon/plastic type material that sets. But it never gets super hard. It might be more trouble than it is worth. I tried my best to find some type of custom silicon mat type company online and I couldn't find anyone who could do the job. I found plenty of people selling all types of clay silicon mats that were already cut, but no one who would make a custom one. 

I need to figure out how I am going to modify the grid tiles first. There is no reason not to have some type of slight elevation inside of each of the 35 grids. It makes no sense to not have some type of slope in it. I am sketching ideas currently. But mostly I have been focusing on throwing jars and lids lately. I am kind of entranced with the design of a jar.

I think I got it bassackwards in my other post, I think if you cut the foam into squares and glued them onto a backing piece it would make more sense. Could you design it so a wedge of clay went under the grid so the whole thing was on a slight slope? Kiln wash the wedges and make them of raku type clay so you could reuse them? Just throwing out ideas, might all be utter garbage.

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@Min I don't think any idea is garbage. All ideas start somewhere. 

I totally didn't get what you were saying now that you retyped it. That makes more sense. I see what your saying. To cut some foam squares the same as the grid tile. Glue them to a flexible plastic or something then roll the clay over that, as it would push into it. That makes perfect sense and could work really well. Brilliant!

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Currie grid tiles
 
I prefer stretch-throwing slabs followed by compressing and smoothing the surface with a rolling pin or a squeegee.   I then place a tar paper template on the tile, trim the outside dimensions, and make the indentations with a purposely made stamp - currently the end of a broken tree limb shaped into a square.   The stamp provides some texture that helps evaluate the 'breaking' tendency of the melt.   Making a tile takes less than five minutes start to finish and only needs about 18 inches of work space and nearly zero of storage space for the template and stamp.   The stamp is then available for other decorative effects.  I have thought about making a wooden drape mold, but it requires ~40 individual stamps and a lot more storage space.
 
After a making a few tiles it is easy to estimate the correct amount of clay needed for a tile.  A good starting amount is by volume: V = width x length x thickness in cm.   Take that amount of soft clay and make the flat smooth tile. My tiles are about 16 x 26 x 1 cm and I start with about 15x15x2.5 (cm) chunk of clay from the bag and wedge it into a cube before starting the stretch-throwing technique.  When there is not sufficient space to throw, I just use a mallet to 'beat the clay into shape'!
LT
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LT,

All the slabs I have made up until now have been handmade by beating the clay into a square shape with my palm quickly, throw pulling it until its pretty much even, then I take two dowels and roll pin it even cut the slab and then lay it over my mold that I carved out of clay and bisque fired. I then roll it over 1 time and I have a uniform grid. I flip it onto a board and pull off the bisque tile mold and done. 

What I would like to do is make a slab with my slab roller like normal, then just lay a mold on top of it and roll it through the slab roller 1 time and have a perfect mold without all the effort. I really want them the same exact size and I want them the same thickness and uniform shape. This is so that I can stack them with wadding between them for extra space in my kiln for the other tiles I am going to be firing.

I did some experimenting a few months back with the idea of a standard tile but with a mountain that was sloped on it. Here was what I tested, although I never ended up carving the large slab I prepared for this grid. 

This was just an example I made quickly the actual tile would have more flat area around the mountain and in the front. I was thinking something like a 1.5'' grid square with .5'' of it being the mountain and the rest being flat. Just looking at this example you can see how much more information is shown just by the slight decrease. The glaze is clearish and glossy on a vertical surface, but matte and grey when on a flat surface.

Sorry for the blurry pictures.

IMG_20171119_181824.jpg.bfcd2eb5a4c70907495f811685634d71.jpg

IMG_20171119_181759.jpg.e6dff94baedc2aa7aea6d0bf1de5b923.jpg

Edited by Joseph F

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Joseph,
Good ideas worth consideration.
I use the Currie tile as a quick technique to cover a wide range of composition(s) for the purpose of 'zeroing in' to a range that will justify detailed effort.  My preferred glaze test tile is an inverted "T" with stamped details similar to what I use on my work.  These are extruded (about 3-4 inch tall inverted "T") and cut to about 1.5 inch wide (wet).  These are used for line blends over a narrow range.  Yes they may take more kiln space, but their purpose is different than the Currie tile.  Also the narrowed line blend needs less tiles therefore less kiln space. 
 
I also work on one glaze at a time.

 
LT
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@Magnolia Mud Research I am not too worried about kiln space. My kiln is practically always been fired for test since ive had it. It is 2.7CuFT. So I can fit a lot of test in there. I also fire vertical tiles as well after I run a grid test. I find several glazes I like on most grid test and I follow up with vertical test. The issue is that a lot of them end up being a poor example of what the glaze on the grid shows, I am sure we all know this. It is part of the problem with the grid method. It is fantastic to get a general idea of what is going on with the glaze, the melt, the coloring, and the surface, but it doesn't really show the true appearance of the glaze unless you only work in flat tiles. I have talked about this before. I would like to get the most information possible without sacrificing the grid for what it is. I think that a small mountain doesn't really change the results of the grid much at all but it does give a slight bit of information about what starts happening when the glaze gets the chance to be slightly vertical.

 I think it would allow me to better predict which glazes to further test with vertical tiles. Which would save me time, effort, kiln space and materials. Over a life time of testing this can add up to a lot of time. I don't like wasting time, so I try to avoid it as much as I can. 

The difficulty I am having is I don't want to carve 35 tiles with an indent. I thought about stamping the master mold with some type of stamp to create the small mountains. I don't know if this would distort it or not as they need to be pretty deep. Then I have the same problem with the grid tile itself being rolled over the mold. How can I be sure that the clay is going down in the mold. I would have to start with a rather thick piece of clay and roll over it several times. Again. Difficulties. Maybe the best solution is just to dip 35 tiles and fire them on a slab of clay to get a vertical test at the same exact time. It is a thought.

 

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joseph, you might be overthinking all this.  theory is one thing, practical application is another.

once you get your slab roller, try rolling things through with the clay.  start with a thickish piece and roll it plain.  then apply whatever texture you want, you do not have to spend all that money on those plastic mats that everyone else is buying, try textured fabric, small pieces of thin plywood, almost anything will work.  do not lower the roller and try running the texture through on top of the clay.  put a piece of fabric over the whole thing, an old pillowcase is one choice, that will give you a smoother background.

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@oldlady

I don't really want to buy the texture mats or add any type of thing to the surface. I really just want to be able to roll a slab through and have my mold instantly made at the same time. However I doubt that is a reality unless I figure out a way to do it with foam and plastic or something. I am going to try a few things to try to make it a happen, but if it doesn't end up working then I can just do it the way I have been doing it. 

----

My real concern is getting more information out of a test with minimal effort but accurate results. I think I might have a solution to that as well. 

Now that I have a slab roller and I can roll a slab to the same thickness every time it means I can create uniform test tiles that are the same thickness as well. So I roll out a slab, put ruler over it and cut out a bunch of rectangles that are flat. Then I will just roll a slab of clay take a tool(made from the slab size I want) and make 7 trenches that are the same width as the tiles that I am using.

Something like this:

gridforvert.png.83b830763d8109e5edb230683e2262cc.png

Then when I do a currie test I will have 2 tiles side by side, and 35 test tiles that are just rectangles. I will mix the cup with milk frothier, syringe the glaze into the square, then dip the tile into the cup and then place it into the trench on the other tile in the same place as the grid. Thus if any glaze runs or what ever it will be contained. This is a really fast way for me to get the all the information in a single firing! Of course it is doubling the amount of work per grid and it will eliminate the ability for me to do incremental test, but that is ok since I am going to be doing this three tiles: black ice, standard 365 and redrock. So I can't really use my incremental method since I will be draining the cups. So I wont be wasting all the glaze without all the information that I wasn't getting before.

This also keeps me from having to mix the batches up again later for any interesting tiles I wanted to test and it solves me from having to have another firing. So even though it is more work up front I will get more details in one firing. Which means I can use the 2nd firing to test the glazes in combinations with other modifier and base glazes that I think go well with certain types of glazes.

One problem I think I might have is depleting the cups so that I can't dip the tile. However I think I might just mix the cups, dip the 3 tiles for each clay and then do the syringe for each clay. So I will do all 3 grids and all 3 tiles for each cup. This way I only have to mix the cup one time per total 3 grid tiles and 3 test.

I think I am going to try this as soon as I get my slab roller *hopefully this week*. 

Edited by Joseph F

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Below some comments I made earlier in this thread when we were discussing currie tile design last year.    Not sure how much is relevant to your current line of thinking on this topic, but wanted to put it out there again.   What is not here is the later "rooks" discussion - an attempt to combine a horizontal currie grid with vertical test tiles in one go to get some additional verticality - but that is also amongst the last few pages of this thread, you may remember it.

My only general thought on the recent discussion just above is make sure you don't ask too much of the currie grid!  :-)  The horizontal nature of the grid delivers definite benefits in my view (see below), and raised portions in every cell may obstruct the ability to harvest those benefits to some degree.  I guess it kind of depends on how raised you are talking about, ie much further than the raised portions currie already included?   Seems you are saying yes to that if your initial pictures are an indication.   

If you do make the little mountains you are talking about in every cell, will they be hollow underneath the tile?  If not those mounds could be pretty thick compared to the rest of the tile, and represent extra thermal mass in that part of each cell which distorts how the glaze on the mound behaves somewhat.  Also might distort the glaze around the mound to some degree.  Would this matter?  Not sure, but just saying it may not replicate the vertical surface of your pots in this case, as this extra thermal mass probably amounts to extra heatwork on the glaze.  On the other hand, maybe that is extra information, lol.   Your call and will be interested in whatever you decide to do.

On ‎29‎/‎06‎/‎2016 at 10:46 AM, curt said:

I believe that the reason the currie "tile" is not simply a series of 35 independent vertical test tiles, and why it is superior to most other forms of glaze testing is this: having 35 very-similar-but-systematically-altered glazes all close together on one object on the same plane and the same orientation maximizes our human potential for comparison.  And given the high degree of subjectivity in this whole business, that is exactly what is needed. Tilting all 35 glazes at the same time in just the right light lets our brain cells divert all their energy to processing visual information from the glazes themselves, rather than the surrounds.  This sets us up to be able to answer the ultimate human question: "compared to what?"  Yes this glaze is good, but compared to the one next door is it better or worse?  And let's remember that color is only one aspect of a glaze.  Texture, smoothness, bubbles, durability, pitting, etc, etc, are also very important for any kind of functional surface and we need to be able to compare those things as well.  

So what does this have to do with tile design?  Well, I think the overall aim with a currie tile is to create a testing surface which replicates as many features of the situation for your pots without compromising the kind of information the test is designed to deliver.  At a practical level this means the same clay body as your pots, same firing conditions as your pots, same thickness of tile as the thickness of the walls of your pots, etc.,  Obviously we are firing on a flat surface not a vertical pot wall, but we can still replicate some of the "verticality" environment with tile features like small raised mounds, striding men, scratch tests, etc.  However, the main game is still the outcomes of the chemistry at this point (I agree that vertical test tiles come later). 

I worry about any feature which is materially different from the environment my pots face (other than the verticality issue).  For instance, I worry that the thermal mass of the kiln shelf under the tile will mean slower cooling - and different colors? - for my currie tile than a pot wall would face.  I worry that the cells of a tile which are closer to the kiln elements will get different heatwork than cells which are closer in to the center of the tile (or othewise farther away from the kiln elements.  I worry that when I put a prop in the center of a currie tile, that it, too, has a thermal mass which subtlely changes the heatwork on the cells around it.  I also worry (and am just annoyed) when bits of the prop break off on the tile and cannot be removed without risking breaking the tile (says someone who has glued several tiles back together).  I worry that all of these things interfere with me getting the best situation for comparability between cells. 

How would I redesign my tile?  I would probably start by getting a setup which allowed me to produce tiles of any thickness I wanted, and then get a thickness of tile purpose-built for the situation of the glaze I wanted to test.  For example, my smaller, more-delicate pieces of functional porcelain will have much different thickness - and require much different glazes and application - than my larger composite and coil built pieces meant for the wood kiln.  I am thinking about how to use a slab roller (which I do not have at the moment) or similar mechanism for impressing currie tiles of very consistent thickness and density. 

I am also thinking about props for between currie tiles in a stack.  For the reasons mentioned just above, I would love to fire all my tiles so that both sides of the tile have air around them, and then I would not even put a tile directly on the kiln shelf.  I would probably design the places for the props to be as small as possible, and I would be looking at using pre-existing standardized props of some kind.  Those three-legged firing stilts with pointy ends for minimizing contact with the pots seem almost ideal, as they minimize contact with the tile (minimizing thermal mass transfer) and also minimize the surface area for fluxy glazes to crawl up on to - or worse - spit up on to.  But one would need to have the supply of these three legged things in hand and play around with the tile design to place them in the best way possible.  And Joseph, I would not have one prop in the center, I would have two of them along the center line, but spread out from top to bottom.  Keep them away from the center of the tile where you are likely to see some of the best cells (18, 23, etc) just in case there is a mishap.  I would put small indentations for the props to sit in, so that every prop is perfectly below the one above it, and almost "clicks" into place when you are stacking them so that they do not move around. 

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joseph, had a sudden inspiration!:o  scrabble tiles!   do not know the size of the cell you intend to use but if you glue scrabble tiles or some small, uniform sized wooden items to a backing, you can use that as your pattern.  work out the details for your slope and done!  all at once, no fiddling.

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@curt I definitely agree being able to tilt the tile and look at it in different lights and such is very important. Also just being able to feel the surface of each glaze and take a butter knife to it to see how each one changes in surface strength is really nice. 

With that being said it requires some guess work on the "what is the next step" part of thinking. When you only get information on the flat surface you have to infer the look of the vertical surface. Sometimes this is easy and sometimes it has been completely different than what I predicted. So in order to maximize the test I think some type of vertical surface is really needed. Otherwise you could be completely missing something totally amazing on a vertical surface that looks bland when flat. I mean that is the real issue here, as scientist we should look at all possible outcomes and explore all the data we can within reason. If we don't see all the glazes vertical as well, how can we know what all we are missing? We both know from doing these test that even tiny amounts of changes in the ratios can bring apart completely different surfaces and some that are remarkable and are snuggled right between two similar cells. If we are going to go through the work of mixing the grid, doing the cups, adding the fluid to the grid and firing the tiles, should we not go one step further and test every single tile vertical as well? I think we should if our desire is to find every possible remarkable glaze that we can. 

I understand that most people(99%) would think it is way too much work to run tiles on every single glaze and clay body. I am talking about 105 vertical tiles and 3 grids each time I run a Currie test now(3 clay bodies). The issue is that we have the glaze for the tiles. It is sitting there for us in a cup ready to be dipped. Why don't we do it? I wish Currie was alive so I could ask him over email. I assume he probably kept it simple because like Neil and others have mentioned in this thread, a lot of the glazes produced by the grid method are mostly useless for dinnerware. But if we are only working for dinner ware, we would be excluding discovery of glazes for half of the ceramic field who do sculptural work and pieces not designed for food. 

There is definitely a problem with running glaze test consisting of 100% flux. What is the point of it at all? Well I am not sure, but I intend to find out. I imagine in the end I might end up abandoning this idea all together. But I can't find any documentation on the net of someone actually trying this over a long period of testing. As far as catching the glaze run off for the really fluxy C corners. I think the rectangle test tiles in a trench slab should work fine. The best part about the flat rectangle tiles is they have no base to stand on, so after the firing, they can be laid out flat in the same pattern as the flat grid and look at how they change vertically across the grid as well. Even the ones that get stuck can just be broken loose from the trench slab. 

Most of this is theory. I will test soon and report back as always. Hopefully it will prove worth it. 

The one problem I think I will run into is thin glaze on top of the vert tiles. I am thinking about bisquing the tiles separately and to a really low cone like Cone 015 so that they are super absorbent. As when we normally test tiles we do things like, dip once, dip twice, dip the corner the third time or something. I don't have time to do that for 105 tiles!  I am hoping that  a tile fired to cone 015 will absorb glaze so quickly I can do a single long dip and get a thick surface that will resemble something between the second and third dip or a normal test. I am probably going do to a gradient dip. Dip the entire tile in for 3 count then do like a 3 count as I pull it out so that it goes from thinner to thicker on the way out.

The last problem that I don't enjoy is I won't be doing incremental additions like I was before with SiC. Because I can't control the amount of glaze I am removing each time therefore I won't know within reason what amount of base still remains in the cup. Which means I won't be testing SiC as much as I had hoped to. My main plan for further SiC testing is just to find the glazes that I enjoy then do volumetric blending of SiC later on for the 2nd firing, this really bothers because again, I am missing results! If I wasn't going to do the work on 3 clay bodies I could continue to do the incremental testing, but my purpose for this is to explore, and having different backgrounds for glazes makes massive differences.

ANYWAYS!

I understand the desire to hold true to what Currie came up with, it is a brilliant solution to discovering glazes and looking at surface change as ratios change. It is probably my favorite thing to do. I still have tiles sitting on my desk right now that I go through often under studio lighting.

But if we don't question things and push forward to better solutions why are we even testing glazes! :huh:

I appreciate all the discussion and discovery talk. This thread has been wonderful to partake in. Definitely a great one. I value all your opinions!

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26 minutes ago, oldlady said:

joseph, had a sudden inspiration!:o  scrabble tiles!   do not know the size of the cell you intend to use but if you glue scrabble tiles or some small, uniform sized wooden items to a backing, you can use that as your pattern.  work out the details for your slope and done!  all at once, no fiddling.

@oldlady

Thanks for the idea. The scrabble tiles is genius but they need to be bigger.

Min showed me this last night. http://debuse-on-the-loose.blogspot.ca/2013/01/how-to-custom-texture-mats.html

I think that is the direction I am going to try. I gave up on the idea of adding some type of vertical surface on the grid itself and moved onto just using vertical tiles. However I still think this foam mat stuff could work brilliantly for creating a tile. I will probably just have to make several layers of squares in order leave an impressive deep enough for a grid tile to hold 2ml of glaze.  But I can imagine getting my slabs rolled through with this perfect foam imprint on top of them. How amazing!

Edited by Joseph F

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yes, craft foam is one of my favorite things to use.  it comes in different thicknesses.  the stuff from dollar tree is so thin it is about like a postcard, get the stuff from michaels or somewhere like that if you have one nearby.  try putting a tic-tac under a square for your slope.

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Just now, oldlady said:

yes, craft foam is one of my favorite things to use.  it comes in different thicknesses.  the stuff from dollar tree is so thin it is about like a postcard, get the stuff from michaels or somewhere like that if you have one nearby.  try putting a tic-tac under a square for your slope.

My slab roller will be here Friday. I have some projects to work on for school, but once its gets here I will probably try something like a tictac something to give it a little surface texture. 

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