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Member Since 04 Oct 2011
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#61040 Most Difficult Aspect Of Making A Pottery Business Work?

Posted by neilestrick on 17 June 2014 - 07:02 PM

Like my friend Fred always says: Making pots is easy. Selling them is the hard part.

#61032 Canvas Texture On Handbuilt Work

Posted by neilestrick on 17 June 2014 - 04:25 PM

I cannot stand the canvas texture being left on slab pieces. Unless it is integral to the design, it should be removed. I have no problem with texture on slabs, but canvas doesn't really leave enough texture to really stand out, so there are much better choices.


As for the work of the woman mentioned above, I see little to no technical skill in what she is making. Rough cut edges that could literally cut someone, texture that fights with her glazes, no sense of form or function- I can appreciate the minimalist quality that she is going for, but without some proper clay handling it's just junk. My kids classes do a better job of finishing their work. This is literally some of the poorest work I've ever seen being sold. And at those prices people are really getting screwed. It's another case of marketing winning out over quality.

#60778 Clean Up After Reduction Firing

Posted by neilestrick on 13 June 2014 - 09:30 PM

A hold at the end of the firing can serve one of two functions, or both. First, a hold time can help to smooth out any glazes that may have problems such as pinholing. This can be true of any type of firing, whether reduction or oxidation, gas or electric, etc. The second type of hold that many people do at the end of a reduction firing is a period of heavy oxidation. This can affect the color of some glazes. I used to do this for my copper red glazes, since without it the white rims were often more grey than white. I stalled out the kiln for 15-20 minutes with lots of air moving through, then shut it down. Neither type of hold/cleanup is necessary unless your glazes warrant it.

#60740 Glaze Making/ Testing Again!

Posted by neilestrick on 13 June 2014 - 10:54 AM

Start with fusion buttons: Melt a little glob of each material on a tile. This will give you a good idea of how each material behaves in the glaze melt.


Then do line blends: 90/10, 80/20, 70/30......10/90. You could just do two materials, but you won't really get anything you can use. Instead, add some EPK and flint in there so you might actually get a useable glaze. I'd go with:

10% EPK

20% flint

70% flux material

Mix up 2 batches of this formula with different fluxes, like maybe a frit for one and a feldspar for the other, and do the line blend.


Then do a triaxial, where you use the same 10/20/70 formula for each corner.


Then do a quad blend, where you take a glaze from the line blend or the triaxial, and increase the alumina and silica across the grid. You'll need glaze formulation software or a good grasp of how to work unity formulas by hand in order to do this. Personally, I'm a fan of Hyperglaze.


Once you get something that works, run color tests. 

#60599 Kiln Vent Questions

Posted by neilestrick on 11 June 2014 - 11:17 AM

If you're using a downdraft kiln vent (Vent-Sure, Envirovent, Orton), the vent is only pulling a small amount of air from the kiln- just enough to keep negative pressure in the kiln. That air is then  mixed with a large volume of air from the room, which cools it down to about 150 degrees, no hotter than what comes out of your clothes dryer.

#60490 Kiln Disclosure

Posted by neilestrick on 10 June 2014 - 03:26 PM

My Olympic 1827 came with a plug. I paid to have an appropriate breaker installed and it is only used for the kiln I also have the wire run on the outside of the wall in metal conduit brom the breaker box to a special shut off box and switch then down to the the plug still running in conduit. The kiln is plugged in to this special plug. My question is how long before oxidation builds up, is there a way to look at it and see the oxidation and know I need to replace, I have not removed the plug from the outlet since first plugging it in since was told that can damage the plug.

Also reading here it's got me thinking I need to go pull my insurance policy and see if they listed it on there. I called and spoke with my agent a few times before and after getting the kiln to make sure I did what I needed to on my end to get coverage. Was told what I needed to do, which I did and then told verbally once everything was installed I was good to go and had coverage. I just assumed that they would put it in the policy but am now wondering.

PS. Fires scare me and I am extremely careful throughout my whole house having special hard wired detectors in each room that is one sptriggers they all go off on all 3 floors. I also have several fire extinguishers on each floor and bought one to sit near the kiln as well. I won't even burn candles or use a space heater. This topic has me wondering what else I can do to safety proof the kiln. It sits on a stand on a concrete floor in my garage. It's 2 feet away from the wall... Do I need to think about installing a sheet of fire proof board on the wall? What else am I not considering? OH and I installed a video camera with a motion sensor facing the kiln so I can monitor it throughout the firing cycle.


It sounds like your kiln is set up right. But do unplug the kiln once or twice a year and inspect the plug for corrosion. Also inspect all the connections inside the kiln control panel, and your breaker panel on the wall. This is especially true if you live in a humid area. Humidity will greatly increase the speed at which connections corrode.


Electric kilns, when wired properly and set up with safe clearances, do not start fires. It is virtually impossible for a kiln to melt down and have all that heat pour out across the floor. The electrical system should fry out long before the bricks melted out. What you can get are electrical fires, like John mentioned, where the wiring is inadequate for the kiln, or there's corrosion in the wiring. You can also get fires if the kiln is too close to something combustible. I recommend a minimum of 16" clearance to my customers. With regular maintenance and checkups you shouldn't have any problems. But if you see corrosion on any of the wiring in your breaker boxes, or at the plug, then you should strongly think about replacing that wiring. I see plugs that corrode and fry out occasionally, but I also see hard wired systems corrode and fry out. I've seen many melted breakers. More often I see wires fry at the power cord terminal connection inside the kiln, rather than at the plug or the breaker, because that area has to deal with a lot more heat than the plug or breaker do. Again, regular inspections are necessary, and will save you money in the long run, because when thing fry they usually damage other things, too, which means more labor and more parts to get it up and running again.

#60117 I Want To Make My Own Bathroom Floor Tile.

Posted by neilestrick on 06 June 2014 - 08:10 AM

You do not want to make your own tiles.


But if you really, really do, cone 6 clay will work just fine. 10x10 is a big tile, and you're really going to struggle with keeping them flat. Like Babs said, keep them sandwiched with weight. Take your time, don't rush them. You will probably not be able to fire them on a tile setter. Flat on a shelf will work best, which means you need a lot of shelves.

#60093 Noob Seeks Advice Building Kiln On The Cheap

Posted by neilestrick on 05 June 2014 - 09:23 PM

When you cook a pork roast, you can cook it at 350 degrees for an hour or 275 degrees for 4 hours. Either way you get a roast that's cooked to 170 degrees inside. The heat work is the same even though the temperatures were different. In a kiln, the temperature at which you achieve the heat work will primarily depend on how fast the kiln is heating up. Faster climb equals higher temperature to achieve the heat work.

#60062 Glaze And Oxide Question

Posted by neilestrick on 05 June 2014 - 04:14 PM

It will al depend on how thick it goes on. Too thick and you'll get a nasty matte wrinkly metallic surface. Too thin and it won't show up well. So keep notes on your water to RIO ratio and try several different applications.

#60041 Simple Runny Glaze

Posted by neilestrick on 05 June 2014 - 10:04 AM

I am intrigued by your request.  most public kiln owners would be horrified to find that someone deliberately put a runny glaze on a pot and it ran all over their shelf.  what is your purpose in using such a glaze?


Many of the glazes I mix for my students to use are runny. But I train them on how to use them so as to avoid ruining my shelves. Yes, I do have a few that stick in every firing, but most aren't very bad and clean up easily. And once they see how it can ruin their pots if they stick to the shelves, they are much more careful in the future.


Runny glazes make for very interesting surfaces.



#59962 Glaze Layering Using Different Manufactors Products

Posted by neilestrick on 04 June 2014 - 11:09 AM

Mixing manufacturers products is not a problem- the problems arise with specific glazes. Many product lines aren't even the same formula from color to color, especially in cone 5-6 glazes. Laguna's Moroccan Sand series is a good example of that. Lots of different base formulas in that series. So test, test, test every combination you can, even those that don't seem like they would work. Some of the best combos in my studio come from glazes I never would have thought to put together. You'll get some ugly ones, some great ones, and possibly some that even bubble and do all sorts of nasty things.

#59907 Ready Made Celadon Glaze For High Fire- Gas ...like Coleman

Posted by neilestrick on 03 June 2014 - 02:20 PM

Commercial glazes for cone 10 aren't nearly as common as for lower temperatures, but there are some out there. You may have a hard time finding them pre-mixed, though, because brushed on glazes at cone 10 generally come out looking pretty splotchy and uneven, since they tend to be very picky about thickness of application. You should be able to find some cone 10 glazes in dry form, though, which simply require mixing with water and sieving.


Just do  Google search and you'll find some options.

#59894 Can You Double A Wood Burning Oven As A Kiln?

Posted by neilestrick on 03 June 2014 - 12:21 PM

Yeah.... now that I've said all that.... I'm nuts.  Think I'll go get a couple big L+Ls with nice computerized controllers.  Sounds REALLY good to me right about now.  ;)






Give me a call. I accept Visa, MC and Discover.

#59685 Anyone Know Of Us Kiln Manufacturers That Do Anything Like This?

Posted by neilestrick on 31 May 2014 - 01:33 PM

Flame stratification on  the cheapie venturi burners that those hex conversion kilns or even the commercial hex gas kilns tend to use are SO reliant on secondary air. 


And yet those kilns have little to no chimney height to actually create the draw needed to provide that secondary air. Power burners are perfect for kilns with no chimney! For the price of the 2 to 4 venturi burners they typically use on the little round kilns, they could build a single power burner with the same or greater output. The real cost of burner systems is in the safety equipment- solenoids, flame sensors, etc.- not the burner itself.


The other great thing about power burners is that you can drastically change the orifice size without messing up the burner. So if you don't have enough power, you can fix it by increasing the orifice size (as long as you have enough gas volume coming in, of course). And if you find you need more air, you can put on a larger blower.


I think that many of the folks who convert the round electrics into gas think that because the round raku gas kilns work well, it should also work for a cone 10 reduction kiln. But the truth is that any crappy burner setup can get a raku kiln to temperature. 1850F degrees is easy. But as you get into higher temperatures the lack of insulation in those kilns becomes a real issue, as does the uneven temperature and atmosphere.

#59664 Duncan Da820-2 Good Choice For Beginner?

Posted by neilestrick on 31 May 2014 - 10:43 AM

If the bricks are in good shape then it's likely worth it. Take a look at the elements. They shouldn't look fried or rusted or brittle. Coils should be standing upright, not sagging down on each other. Open the control box and check the wires. They should be flexible and not crunchy when you bend them. If the the elements need changing it will cost you a couple hundred dollars. If the wires need changing it will cost tens of dollars. If you can plug it in and test it then do. Call Paragon and make sure it's a model they still have parts for. Try to get the down to $300 regardless!