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Member Since 04 Oct 2011
Online Last Active Today, 08:38 AM

#64753 Another Sales Technique ... Maybe?

Posted by neilestrick on 19 August 2014 - 09:12 PM

My trick is to tell them to take it out into the sun outside my booth. It gets the pot into their hands, and the glaze (which they were already like) really pops in the sun and seals the deal.

#64725 How To Get Started With Old Stains, Etc

Posted by neilestrick on 19 August 2014 - 11:35 AM

Stains can be added to glazes to color them. i would run small batch (100g) tests with 2, 4, 6, 8, 10% stain added to a glaze, by dry weight. Stains can also be used to color slip, but higher percentages are generally needed. You can also use them to stain texture on pots or as underglazes, but they will generally need to be cut with a little frit first.


I would also run small batch tests of all your glazes before mixing large batches. Start making test tiles!


Large batches of glaze should be sieved through an 80 mesh screen. Test batches can be mixed with a stick/immersion blender.

#64716 Kiln Amps Labeling Conflict

Posted by neilestrick on 19 August 2014 - 08:39 AM

You've got a Frankenkiln. Someone added a third ring but never changed out the serial plate to reflect the change.


The amperage rating on the sitter has nothing to do with the actual draw of the kiln. It's just a switch that power goes through, and it can handle up to 45 amps. The actual draw is determined by the service voltage and the resistance of the elements.


It's odd that a kiln of that size with 3 rings is pulling 45-50 amps. It should be around 35 amps. Someone's definitely been tinkering with it. I'd get new elements in it that are properly sized for that kiln.

#64713 Base Of Pots 'chipped Edge' After Glaze Firing - Why?

Posted by neilestrick on 19 August 2014 - 08:23 AM

You need a fresh coat of kiln wash on the shelves.

#64552 Interesting Dilemma

Posted by neilestrick on 16 August 2014 - 08:44 AM

One is underfired or one is overfired, or both.  With the exception of the silica, it's close to being within limits for both temperatures. The silica is quite low in both cases, though.


Personally, I tend to avoid glazes that rely so heavily on one ingredient.

#64459 Rust Red Glaze Recipe

Posted by neilestrick on 14 August 2014 - 07:05 PM

Harris Red (Revised)

Neph Sye  18.60

Gillespie Borate  9.20

Dolomite  9.20

Talc  9.20

Bone Ash  7.40

EPK  18.60

Flint  27.80

Total 100.00



Red Iron Oxide  11.00


Tends to be more red on stoneware bodies, lighter red on porcelain. Can be really bright brick red on brown stoneware like Standard 112. Looks great with the specks. I usually do a slow cool, 175F/hr to 1550F.

#64444 Pinch Pots

Posted by neilestrick on 14 August 2014 - 02:06 PM

When i do pinch pots with kids, they inevitably pinch with their index finger bent. This is a very aggressive way to pinch, and causes the clay to get too thin and lumpy. So I tell them to use 'crab hands'. Pretend you're making a crab claw motion with your hand- thumb and fingers straight out. This makes a nice soft pinch that gives more control and a smoother surface.

#64206 Reduction Kiln- Too Early?

Posted by neilestrick on 09 August 2014 - 01:59 PM

If it's a soft brick kiln, it must be under a shelter. If it's hard brick, a shelter is still recommended since you live in a cold, icy part of the country. You'll also have to consider the cost of plumbing it up with either natural gas or propane, and the cost of gas in your area.


The big question here is do you need a gas kiln to make the work you want to make? Or do you just need to gain more experience in glaze formulation? I used to think I needed a gas kiln to be happy, but now I realize that I have gone further with cone 6 electric than I would have had I stayed with cone 10 reduction. One is not better than the other, just different, and for me cone 6 electric is perfect for the work I want to make. So dig deep and figure out what you want to do. It's a hard thing to decide, and maybe you need to gain more experience with different firing techniques before making that decision.


$300 is a steal, but don't buy it just because it's cheap and different and new and exciting. Save that $300 and put it toward a wood kiln if that's what you really want to do. Or put the $300 toward spending some time learning to wood fire with some of your local potters. Michael Schael or Mark Skudlarek (both in Cambridge, WI) would probably be happy to have some help firing their wood kilns.

#64122 Please Help Me Choose Between These 3 Kilns

Posted by neilestrick on 07 August 2014 - 01:24 PM

I"m all for used kilns, if you know what you're getting into and can do repairs yourself. My first couple of kilns were used, and I got them at a great price. But if you don't know what to look for in a kiln, then you may not want to do it.


Say you spend $400 on a used kiln, spend $500 on a controller, but then it needs elements. There's another $300 in parts and $200 in labor if you aren't comfortable working on it yourself. If it's a 15 year old kiln then the switches and wiring are likely to be near the end of their life, so there's another $275 in parts and labor in the near future. Now you've got an $1675 kiln that's got 15 year old bricks and no warranty.


So if you decide to go used, find someone who knows what to look for and have them assist you. Ideally you want to check the element resistance, condition of the bricks, condition and age of the wiring and switches, and replacement parts costs. There's a lot of old Duncan kilns on the market, but elements tend to be expensive and a hassle to replace. There are other models of popular brands that have $90 elements rather than the typical $50. There are also a lot of Knight kilns out there, like the listing Schmism shows above. Those kilns are no longer made, however Euclids can make elements for most of them. I'd call Euclids first before buying a Knight.

#64047 Please Help Me Choose Between These 3 Kilns

Posted by neilestrick on 06 August 2014 - 02:00 PM

I can give you specific info about all of those kilns off forum, including maintenance costs and issues. It's a lot to go through here. Feel free to call  or email me direct.


Electrical code says that kilns should be on a breaker that is 25% greater than the amperage pull of the kiln. The Paragon pulls 28 amps, which means it should be on a 35 amp breaker, which doesn't exist so you go to the next one larger, 40 amps. On a 30 amp breaker it could flip the breaker if you have slightly high amperage. These are the reasons we don't put 48 amp kilns on 50 amp breakers.


Between the Easy Fire and the Liberty Bell, I'd go with the Easy Fire with the better controller. You'll be much happier with the full Dynatrol rather than the small controller. I can get you pricing if you don't already have a local supplier you're considering.

#64043 Craft Is Good; Crafter Is Not -- Cerf+ Survey Results

Posted by neilestrick on 06 August 2014 - 12:56 PM

Much of the time (not all the time) when I meet people who describe themselves as an 'Artist', I find that they are the type that dabbles in lots of different media, but doesn't necessarily excel greatly in any of them. They have a 'creative spirit', but haven't focused on any one media or method enough to really hone their craft. Most artists I meet who do have a high level of craftsmanship describe themselves with more detail, such as 'painter', 'wood sculptor', 'portrait artist', 'fiber artist', etc. I think they have a great sense of pride in their craftsmanship.


Personally, I describe myself as a 'potter'. I make pots, so it's a simple, easy to understand description. I have had people say that it's not an adequate description, that I should say 'ceramic artist', but I feel no shame in making functional pots. I'll let my customers decide whether or not I'm an artist or just a craftsman. It doesn't really matter to me.

#63625 Quality Of Firing In Short Kiln Vs Tall

Posted by neilestrick on 31 July 2014 - 10:04 AM

If you don't need the height, then go with the 28" wide by 18" tall. Your back will thank you. The wider diameter will give you more efficient loading space, too. Just remember that you're going to lose about 1.5" due to the shelf you'll put on the bottom. As for the firing, because your kiln will have zone control it won't matter how tall it is.


I'd be happy to give you pricing if you don't have a local L&L distributor that you're working with.

#63526 Used Pottery Wheels: The Good And The Bad?

Posted by neilestrick on 29 July 2014 - 05:26 PM

I'm a Thomas-Stuart/Skutt fan. I've got 11 of them. They run smooth, have the most torque for the money, and the big splash pans keep the studio much cleaner.


For used wheels, just make sure it runs smoothly, and check the belt for wear. Beyond that it's hard to tell if it will run for 20 years or break down in a week. Avoid the Brent wheels with the black control box with smooth/flush buttons. Those were not good- Brent was replacing them if they died, but I don't know if they still are.

#63206 Granite For Wedging Tabletop/element Wire For Fixed Cut Wire ?

Posted by neilestrick on 24 July 2014 - 03:45 PM

Hmmmm.....wondering how many potters/ceramists are also guitar pickers.


I'm a banjo picker, which is why I use guitar strings for a wedging wire. I need my banjo strings!

#63201 Raku - Leaving Pots In Kiln

Posted by neilestrick on 24 July 2014 - 01:02 PM

In addition to the issues of reduction posted above, dumping a bunch of combustible material into the top of a hot kiln is a very dangerous thing to do. It ignites so rapidly that there's good chance of catching a fireball in your face.