Jump to content


Member Since 04 Oct 2011
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 09:17 PM

#112788 Adding A 2Nd Medium To Booth

Posted by neilestrick on 08 September 2016 - 02:08 PM

I'm always leery of people who describe themselves as an 'artist', because more often than not it means they dabble in a lot of different types of art, but aren't a master of any. This is how the public will view a booth with two different mediums for sale. It dilutes the quality of each. Folks who excel at a particular type of art general describe themselves as such, such as a 'potter' or 'painter' or 'fiber artist' or 'graphic designer', or something that defines the specific type of art that they do. Also, a lot of juried shows just won't want want to deal with two mediums. If you could somehow work out the marketing as 'handmade items for the home', rather than 'pottery' and 'wood', it may be more successful, but you would have to really work it well. It would also help if there are a number of items that incorporate both wood and clay.

#112714 Convert From A Sitter.

Posted by neilestrick on 07 September 2016 - 09:26 AM

Ho do you plan to mount the controller and protect it from the heat? If I were you, I would build an external control box that you can just plug the kiln into. Much less wiring, much less work, better for the electronics. 8ga thermocouples in tubes is a great way to go.

#112663 Kiln Elements Sagging, Is This An Acceptable Fix?

Posted by neilestrick on 06 September 2016 - 04:49 PM

Just let them lay on the floor. If you can, pin them to the floor with a U shaped element pin. Just don't let them touch the bottle shelf. Raise the bottom shelf a bit if needed. When they are worn out and need replacing, replace the bricks, too.

#112396 Older Kiln Not Reaching Temp

Posted by neilestrick on 01 September 2016 - 02:11 PM

Does the sitter have a backup timer? If so, was it set long enough for the firing to complete? That timer does not control how long a firing takes, it just shuts the kiln off when it gets to zero. You'll have to set it high and figure out how long a firing actually takes, then set the timer to about 1/2 hour longer than the expected time on subsequent firings. If there's not a timer, you'll need to put it on high and see if all the elements glow after a few minutes.

#112376 Where Can I Find Soda Glass?

Posted by neilestrick on 01 September 2016 - 09:52 AM

If you can't find someone who supplies premixed powdered glass, you can probably find a frit that will work.

#112330 In A Rut?

Posted by neilestrick on 31 August 2016 - 03:07 PM

Start looking at pictures of pots. That's what always gets me jazzed up about making again.

#112314 Clear Glaze Forms Bubbles At Edges & Rims

Posted by neilestrick on 31 August 2016 - 09:27 AM

If another clear does the same thing, then we can probably assume that it's your colored slip/underglaze that is the issue. Chances are there is too much colorant in the mix.

#112277 My Cone 5 Glazes Don't Vitrify At Cone 5?

Posted by neilestrick on 30 August 2016 - 05:07 PM

If you were bisque firing some pieces along with the glaze pieces, then you were firing to cone 05, not 5.


You should not leave the lid cracked during the firing- you're just wasting electricity and you could cause the controller to get an inaccurate read. Crack it at the beginning if you want, but once it's above a few hundred degrees you're not gaining anything. In fact the top of the kiln will be colder than the rest. Leaving the top peep out will work just fine, or if you're running a vent then you shouldn't be leaving anything open because you're just spoiling the draft of the vent.

#112242 Narrowed It Down To A Couple Wheels?

Posted by neilestrick on 30 August 2016 - 09:26 AM

Giffin Grip



#112207 Are Cone 5/6 Ceramics Correctly Referred To As "stoneware"?

Posted by neilestrick on 29 August 2016 - 12:45 PM

Stoneware can be mid range 5/6 or high fire 9/10. Same with porcelain. Be careful when you buy commercial glazes, because many 5/6 glazes and 9/10 are referred to as high fire stoneware glazes. Always look at the cone number.

#111982 Narrowed It Down To A Couple Wheels?

Posted by neilestrick on 25 August 2016 - 09:16 PM

I also noticed that Brent is now rating their wheels by how much clay they can 'continuously handle', which is very different than centering capacity. Centering capacity is more important, because that's when you need power and torque. It's also really important when you're working far out from the center of the wheel. For instance, I made a few 8 pound platters today, which require flatting out a disc to 15 inches. When putting a lot of pressure that far out from the center of the head, you need torque in order for it to run smoothly without bogging down. Small motors just can't handle it.


That said, motor size isn't necessarily the best indicator of torque. The TS/Skutt 1/3hp models have more torque than the Brent CXC. The small motors on Soldner wheels have tons of power, too.


Get a 14" wheel head. Yes, you can put a 14" bat on a 12" wheel head, but it will be more stable on the bigger head.


I, too, am a TS/Skutt fan. I own 11 of them. The Classic will handle anything you want to throw. I regularly make 50 pound planters on mine. And like Joseph said, the big splash pan is a dream. Plus it's got more torque than the Brent CXC for a lot less money, and I think the controllers are a lot smoother.

#111964 Qotw: Epic Failures Anybody?

Posted by neilestrick on 25 August 2016 - 03:01 PM

My biggest mistake was in grad school when I forgot that I had the 30 cubic foot gas kiln running with a bisque in it. I remembered at 11pm as I lay down for bed. When I got to the studio it was at cone 10. Whole load into the trash.


Just last week I accidentally set my small kiln to cone 6 for a bisque. I didn't double check the program like I usually do because I was in a hurry. Into the trash.

#111954 Interesting Wheel Pedal Repair

Posted by neilestrick on 25 August 2016 - 12:46 PM

On Tuesday one of my Thomas Stuart wheels needed repair. The pedal wouldn't respond unless you wiggled the cord. On Wednesday the wheel next to it starting going full speed as soon as you turned on the power switch. It turned out that both needed the same repair, which was not replacement of the pedal guts/potentiometer as I initially thought. Instead, the problem was the cord, specifically right where it goes into the pedal. The plastic cord grip nut at that location puts a lot of pressure on the wires, and over the last 12 years wore them out. I couldn't tell specifically what was happening, but they were clearly fraying or shorting out. Anyway, I simply cut out that section of the cord, spliced the ends of the 4 wires, and hid the splices inside the pedal. The cord is now a few inches shorter, but the wheels are up and running again.

#111637 Can I Get Away Without A Test Kiln?

Posted by neilestrick on 18 August 2016 - 07:36 PM

Denise: are you getting the $25 cost from the COST function on the kiln? Just trying to figure out why my kiln is estimating costs so much lower. I fire to ^6.


When you calculate the cost of your electricity, make sure you're looking at your bill correctly. On my electric bill there are two different main charges, and several other small charges which go into the total- Supply Charge, Delivery Service, Taxes, etc. So if I just look at the cost per KWh, it won't be accurate. You have to take the total cost on the bill and divide it by the KWh used that month to give you the true cost of firing. That said, the cost of electricity can vary greatly around the country. Last time I checked, for it was just under 17 cents per KWh. I estimate my big 21 cubic foot electric to cost me around $35 per load, and I can get electric bills of close to $500 a month for my shop in the winter when the baseboard heaters are running, too. Thank God for budget billing! A 10 cubic foot kiln like a Skutt 1227 I would expect to be in the $12-20 range depending on where you live. A little 1 cubic foot test kiln should only cost a couple of dollars, so within 100 firings you could make up the cost over firing the big kiln empty.


Whether you end up getting a little test kiln or fire the big one empty, you'll need to put in a cooling cycle. An empty big kiln or a little test kiln will cool much slower than a full big kiln, and that will dramatically affect your glazes. It doesn't necessarily have to be a 'slow' cooling, but something that will be consistent in all firings. You should set it to cool from the peak temperature, since crash cooling from the top will also be different in each situation. I cool at a rate of 175/hr down to 1500F, which takes about 3 hours. My big kiln hardly clicks on at all during that cycle once it gets down a couple hundred degrees, and I get identical results from all 3 of my kilns. My test kiln cools so quickly that many glazes come out really bad if I don't slow down the cooling.

#111630 Reduction Fire ^5/^6 Gas Length Of Time

Posted by neilestrick on 18 August 2016 - 05:14 PM

If you don't reduce at the low end, cone 012-06ish, the clay and glazes will be sealed over and the reduction won't penetrate into the clay. That's why they call it body reduction, it reduces the clay body. Reduction at the high end can have an effect on glazes, but in my experience it's minimal. With some glazes, like american shino glazes that are high in soda ash, the soda ash that has precipitated to the surface will melt out very early and seal off the the glaze, preventing good reduction, so they have to be reduced very early, like 014-012. Once you reduce at the low end, it doesn't really matter much how the firing goes from there. You can fire neutral or reducing the rest of the way up. Once it's reduced, it's reduced, but it has to be done at the low end.